The imagery of this card was chosen specifically because there is no creature more selfless and poetic than the luna moth. With an adult lifespan lasting on average for 7 days, it is truly the definition of Just Passing Through. It brings to mind a peace, yet poses the question, do they know their lifespan will only be a week? Do they understand mortality? Do they understand time? The psychology of the luna moth is of course unknown, and while majestic, there is a gentle layer of sadness draped upon it, or perhaps that is our inability to let things come and go freely from our lives. And there lies the true depth within this card. Can we simply observe? Can we look without touching? Can we love without controlling? Inevitably, this card will strike a resistance in our hearts, as we have become creatures of ownership, but yet again, nature teaches us the lessons we need to hold closest to our hearts. Like the leaves of fall and the flowers of spring, may we move through the phases of life with grace and effortlessness.
This tale is more or less a confession, of a number of words I have never spoken aloud. Mostly because they are fairly new and also because this is the first time I am officially writing them down in story form. At this point in my life, I consider myself well seasoned in love, having the opportunity to live a love story many dream about. From afar, it was bliss. And even up close there were many moments of bliss. It’s funny, when you’re in your early 20’s, you have such a plan for your life. You think you know all you’ll ever need to know with the undeniable bravado that accompanies an early 20 year old. But at that age, I wasn’t emotionally intelligent enough to be able to know what I actually needed and I was much more willing to sacrifice my well being for the security of what I thought was “home.” I was looking for attachment. I was looking for something solid to cling to, seeing as how much of my early life was as stable as a brick house built on mud. My time living in NYC brought me some of the most profound personal connections I’ve ever known. From friends, to family, to lovers. All of which I honor to this day. But none of them were as impactful as the time I got to share with M (that’s what we’ll call him.) I met M when I was just 20 years old in the dead cold of NYC December, fake ID in hand, sneaking my way into a Hell’s Kitchen gay bar to support a friend of mine doing a body painting exhibit. M was the model being painted that night and like the wide eyed baby gay that I was, it was love at first sight. I mean, he was wearing very small underwear with an amazing body staring right at me, could you blame me? As I watched with fascination, it was easy for me to visualize what I thought my life would be like with M, despite the fact that he and I had never exchanged a single word. But there was something, I couldn’t tell what, perhaps my own will, that knew that I’d be with him again after that night and that he would see me and I would see him in a way we had never been seen before. We spent that night having one too many drinks, making out against a bathroom door and stumbling outside, where I tried to convince him to come home with me to my New Jersey college apartment, to which he laughed and said “I’m not going to New Jersey, but you can come to my place in the East Village.” I drunkenly said sure and we hopped in a cab heading downtown. There was a moment in the cab that night when he sweetly began asking me questions about my life, where I was from, what I was going to school for, what my family did, all the classic questions one would ask during a first encounter, except for me, those questions always made me anxious because it either meant I had to make up a fancy lie about my life, or dump tragedy on them during our first moments together. That night, my very sad drunken heart chose the tragedy. I placed my head in his lap and started to hysterically cry, telling him that my mom had died just 4 months prior and that my whole life was fucked up and I didn’t know what to do. He sat there, brushing my hair, listening so closely. I don’t think he had ever seen someone in so much emotional pain before. As the cab stopped outside of his apartment, I got out and said “Hey, I know I’m a mess. I think I’m going to head home…” and with a chuckle and a devilish grin, he grabbed me by my hand and said “Shut up. You’re cute,” and lead me upstairs to his tiny 2 bedroom apartment where his bed was quite literally the only thing that fit in his room. Charming is the word that comes to mind. That night, M held me tighter than I had ever been held before. There was no demand for sex, no expectation, just him and I intuitively knowing that for the next little while, we were going to take care of each other. After that night, M remained slightly aloof. I would text him things like, “Hey, just wanted to say that I had a really amazing night with you. Hopefully we can hang out again sometime,” to which he would respond with the incredibly frustrating side eye smirk emoji. That’s it. I was sure I had messed it all up, but for some reason, he began reaching back out. Asking for me to come see him and spend the night with him a few different nights over the next couple of weeks. He would take me to his favorite restaurants in the East Village, we would get wine and margarita drunk and smoke bowls on his fire escape. It felt like some dreamy summer love, except it was below freezing and we had to huddle close to stay warm. It was on December 21st that he asked me officially to be his exclusive boyfriend, under the brightly lit Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. And it was no more than 20 minutes after that, he received the call that he had booked his first national theatre tour and would be leaving at the end of the week for 4 straight months. I was instantly crushed. It felt like some cruel cosmic joke. I had opened myself up, been vulnerable like all the books on love had told me and it got ripped away in a moment. My reaction in that moment was completely selfish. I said “Seriously? You’re going to take it? What about us?” as if we had been together for years. But that’s how I work. When I open myself up, I am OPEN. I dive in head first and I give my all the second the guards are down. But there I was, feeling as foolish as ever. His response was very matter of fact. “Why wouldn’t I take the job?” And just like that, I knew that we were on different pages. His career was still first, and realistically, that made complete sense, but in my soul, he was already first with me. It felt like some strange spell, explained perfectly in the musical The Last Five Years. The way the musical takes place is that a couple tells the tale of their relationship, but one starts at the beginning, and the other starts at the end and they work their way back together overlapping and then passing each other again. That’s where we were. I was at the end in the beginning, ready to get married and settle down, just a month into our relationship, and he was at the beginning, barely knowing me and wanting to move very slowly. We played this tour game for the next year and a half. Him coming back from tour, him leaving for tour, him coming back, him leaving. That was the foundational first chapter of our relationship. And we fought….a lot. Many of the fights were provoked by me. Whether I had convinced myself he had cheated on me or that I was insecure and jealous. You see, I was also in theatre at the time, but my mom’s death had drained me completely dry of any sort of inspiration inside of my actor self and I had nothing to give to the gods of the stage. But M was full of life and energy and he had all the time in the world to audition. But me, I was so full of resentment and fear that I had just spent the last 4 years in college paying for a degree that I was almost certain I would never professionally use. I was sitting on top of a mountain of student loan debt. And he had none. We came from 2 completely different places and that was a fact that I could never make peace with. He lived in a consequence free world, which both annoyed me and inspired me because it created someone fearless and outwardly confident, but also someone demanding and unwilling to compromise. When he came back from the final tour, we sat down and had a long conversation. My intention was not to drop an ultimatum, but I was left with no choice. I placed 2 paths in front of him and said, “Here are our options. You can stop touring and stay here and we can really give this a shot. Or you can go on tour again and we break up and move on with our lives.” Admittedly, the bluntness of this statement to him was probably shocking. But I knew what I needed. I needed to know someone intimately. I needed to live with him, see if I was able to be a good partner and line up my life plan, married by 25. I saw the dream in my head, the roots I wanted to put down, the expectations I had in every category of my life. M decided to stay, we moved in together and that sealed a fate that the next 4 years of my life were going to teach me more about myself and my needs than anything ever could. The problems that M and I had at the beginning of the relationship were the problems we had through the end of our relationship. It was always communication and it was ALWAYS honesty. The white lies would turn into full blown sagas just to avoid the truth. The truth was always so hard to say, I think because he and I were creatures of immense shame. We were filled with it, from different sources, but ultimately around the same topics. Simply put, we had irreconcilable, fundamental differences that no one should ever be asked to change, and yet we demanded each other to change them. He and I bent each other in directions we never should have. From moving in and out of an open relationship, to being exposed to an aggressively perfect family unit multiple times a week, to becoming so suspicious that we’d look through each others phones and computers, then only to manipulate the other into being the bad guy. The game we played would become so vicious. We would actively ruin each others days just to prove a point. It became a vortex and we were fighting about anything and everything. We would get into screaming matches about how I stole the comforter last night, only to somehow land on that relating to my childhood trauma and abandonment issues and his desperate need for control. There was so much we needed to say to each other, and I actually think we always said it. But the other was never listening. We never learned how to not victimize ourselves in those moments and break out of the “my pain is greater than your pain,” battle. Every time a fight would break out, it was instantly about who was going to have the bigger emotional reaction. It was so petty, but the subtext suggested that he and I were no longer compatible. The ecosystem was poisoned. He cheated, I did it back, he 100% wanted kids, I wasn’t sure, he was obsessed with his family, I didn’t fit in with them. I was always sacrificing the better parts of me to fit in to his vision, and I expected the same. But at some point, the mirror shattered. M and I got engaged, we even got married. Only to be divorced 2 months later in a series of events I knew was going to be our reality even though I tried to sidetrack destiny. We’ve all tried to do that. And does it ever work? Never. But we will ignore red flags until we are blue in the face in order to preserve an image and hang on to an idea we think still serves us.
M taught me one of the most beautiful and humbling things I’ve ever learned, something that I genuinely think has changed my life for the better. I learned that we must stop imposing timeline expectations upon the people that enter our lives. I know, I know. It seems IMPOSSIBLE. If you marry someone, you’re going to be together forever. That’s what we’ve been told and sure, for some that may be true. But it wasn’t true for me and some of the most important and impactful people of my life are no longer in my life. Sometimes, people come into our lives because we begged the universe for something and they presented it in human form. I begged the universe for a net to fall into after my mom died. I begged the universe to help me heal. The universe gave me M. He saved my whole entire life. Brought me back to the land of the living and he is literally the reason I am alive today. M wished to be fully seen and loved for exactly who he was. The universe brought him me, and I did love him and see him, with my whole heart and soul. But it was clear, the moment we were back on our feet, it stopped working. Even he knew that, through the utter grief that was our separation. This is not to say that we shouldn’t get attached to things. Attachment is beautiful. But when it develops into codependency, when you can’t exist in the world without that person or at least you’re too scared to, and when you still try and work things out even though you’re fighting multiple times every single day without ever reaching a real resolution, it’s important to see, that is not attachment. It is expectation and control. And love and control cannot co-exist. It is a grand idea to live fully inside of every experience you have. And it’s that grand idea that will help us to find ourselves away from such unnecessary anguish around trying to be lords of time and fate. No one owes us their time and no one knows how much time we have. And it’s better that way, because we get to decide how we fill our lives and how fully we fill them. This is a statement I wished someone had said to me: Just because you’ve been in an unhappy relationship for years doesn’t mean you owe them the rest of your life and the rest of your happiness, even if sometimes it’s good and you still love them. I still love M, I always will. And I anticipate he feels the same, even though we hurt each other so deeply. But our time ended and we gave each other exactly what we needed and now on the other side of that, we are better people for someone new. We may never speak again. We may never know anything about each other ever again. That reality would’ve shocked me just a year ago, but now, I couldn’t imagine it being any other way. Our luna moth cycle ended. We as a unit died and we both chose, out of love, to bow out gracefully and recycle ourselves back to the gods of love. We never fought once during the break up and we always maintained respect, which is ironic because we could never seem to do that when we were together. But it is healthy to examine the subtext of our relationships, those silent cries for release inside of our everyday words. Because only then can we see the natural end of things, when the cycle of a relationship is over even. We need to harness acceptance in these moments, so that we can allow the relationship to fall away as it is supposed to. You didn’t fail, you are not flawed, you are still worthy of love. But maybe everyone isn’t supposed to be everything to us. Maybe they’re just supposed to be who they are, and we are better off accepting that. When we try so desperately to keep a dead relationship afloat, it becomes some form of relationship necromancy, that in order to ensure it’s success, you must trade your own life force. When things naturally find their end, they do not drain us and we should celebrate accordingly. We should also celebrate the bravery it takes to admit that something is over. At some point nature has to admit that the leaves are dead and decide to let them go. It’s a simpler concept, but the trees do grieve, if only momentarily. Until they are once again full, blooming with hope and fragrant blossoms. We will go through many luna moth life cycles in our life and each time we should approach it with the same reality. What did this teach me, how can I honor it, how can I say goodbye and allow myself to observe and not get stuck inside of the grief? When the weight is too much, when you’ve convinced yourself that you’re broken because the perfect love wasn’t so perfect, maybe it’s because you just ended another luna moth cycle. Maybe it’s because you or that person were truly just passing through each others lives and neither of you were meant to stay forever. And sometimes, that means it’s time to have a deep cry, a deeper breath and to remember that it was just one moment and you will have a million more, all of them equally as important, impactful, and immortalized in your memory as the other, like the perfectly preserved body of the luna moth left behind, no longer containing a soul.