Oracle Of Ybor: More Academia Strife

Nov 22, 2023 at 10:22 am
Welcome to the Oracle of Ybor.
Welcome to the Oracle of Ybor. Photo via Adobe Stock.

Dear Oracle,

My partner and I both work for a public university. Or, we did, until this week when we were told that Admin had decided to fire about 90% of the adjuncts, us included. We will be out of jobs and health insurance by the end of December. We have no idea what to do. Help?

-I hate surprises

Cards: Three of Cups (rev), The High Priestess (rev.), The Hermit (rev.), Nine of Pentacles.

Dear Surprise,

I am so sorry for that the rug got pulled out from under you, and so many others, in the middle of the semester. That’s exceptionally cruel and while it’s not uncommon in academia, it’s a fucking tragedy.

The Nine of Pentacles, the card of material well-being, is the only one right-side up, making it the most pressing, so the first thing you’re going to do is figure out your finances. Pull everything together and figure out what you have, if you’ll be getting severance or unemployment, if you need/want to move, and how to cover the basics. The “good news” is the healthcare marketplace is open, so you can insurance for January.

With The Three of Cups, it’s also time to lean on friends and colleagues and anyone you’ve gotten drunk with a conference or chatted with on a panel. The good friends can help you out emotionally (or give you a couch to crash on or whatever) while the network-friends might help with job leads.

But, before you get to that step, you and your partner need to ask yourselves: what do I want?

The meat of this answer are two Major Arcana, The High Priestess and The Hermit, both of which involve a lot of deep searching. The High Priestess in not only a card of the unconscious but of secret desires. These can be a secret that we even keep from ourselves. So, in this time of transition, when nothing is certain, ask yourself: if you could do anything, what would it be?

Is it to go back to teaching? To pivot to an adjacent field? Or to do something completely different? At this stage, you’re just spit balling. But honestly let yourself explore the idea. Is there some job that rings out like a bell? Good.

Now, with The Hermit, you’ll consider what it would mean to find a path forward towards that life. It could take time — you might need to go back to school for another three years or start cranking out screenplays, or develop a business plan and apply for loans. You might need to get day jobs that will float you while you work towards this one (unless you can luckily start your dream job in January).

Talk to your partner about your wants and their wants. What do these paths look like? Can they exist in the same place? At the same time? What would that future look like?  Of course, this conversation is SEVERAL steps down the road. Focus on finances now, and once you know you have a roof over your head somewhere, dive deep into your soul.

Best of luck my darlings.

Dear Oracle,

I’m thinking about breaking up with my therapist. She’s said some shit that felt way out of line and I don’t know if I trust her anymore. What do the cards say?

-Pissed off Patient

Cards: Ace of Swords, The High Priestess, The Hanged Man (rev.), Temperance

Dear POP,

While I often advocate for therapy in the column, I will admit: some therapists are terrible at their jobs. They can be actively harmful and if you think this therapist is doing damage, especially if there is a pattern, stop seeing her. The cards are moot.

Now, if your therapeutic relationship has been pretty good up until this point, I think a pause might be necessary. The Ace of Swords can be very black-or-white thinking, which could translate to feeling condemned if you’re therapist didn’t 100% agree with you. The High Priestess, like I mentioned above, it a card of the Unconscious and in Jungian psychoanalysis, it’s where the shadow lives. The shadow is a place where we stuff feelings we don’t want to experience — things we have been shamed for, things we’re afraid of, thoughts we don’t want to think and desires we’re scared to admit to. There are all sorts of things in the shadow — good and bad — but it’s a tender spot. If someone pushes on it before we’re ready to talk about it, it’s like they’re sticking their finger into an open wound: it hurts hell and we hate them for it.

With The Hanged Man, it feels like she might have misunderstood something that was far more fundamental than whatever specific thing she was talking about. She may have stuck her finger in a wound that has been open and oozing for years without realizing it. With that black and white thinking, it might tempting to see your only options as “quit” or “finger in the wound” but those aren’t the only options on the table. The Hanged Man does encourage a pause, a moment to stop and think. It might be true that your therapist had good intentions and said something shitty. Both can true.

Temperance also discourages black-and-white thinking and encourages us to hold possibly conflicting truths at the same time. No relationship is all good or all bad all the time. Complexities exist and have to be acknowledged if we want to restore balance.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to talk to your therapist and tell her exactly what upset you and your reaction to it. Together, you can address her hurtful actions and, if you feel like you can trust her, what may have triggered such a strong reaction. Sometimes a fight like this with a therapist can open the door to some deeper healing.

But, again, if you don’t feel safe with her, don’t go down the road with her. Find someone new.

I hope the conversation goes well, my dear.