It’s an easy thing to say, “I should ask for what I need more often.” It’s quite another to actually, yknow, do that. Especially when you’re told, in so many words or through subtle societal messaging, that your needs are too much. A burden. Which is often the case for those of us in the disabled/ND communities. Just getting our basic needs met can be overwhelming, much less asking for anything that feels extra.
I find that this abstract reminder (“ask for what you need!”) can be less than helpful. If I’m in the thick of a pain flareup, EVERYTHING feels like too much. Explaining how I need my laptop plugged in feels just as difficult as just getting up and plugging it in myself. Setting a boundary like “I’m overwhelmed right now, can we wait to talk about this until I’m less flared up?” feels harder than just letting a conversation happen while I struggle to listen. So it helps me a lot to think about what I need ahead of time. Now, obviously this isn’t bulletproof. There’s no way to plan for every contingency, especially with something as unpredictable as minds/bodies that get overloaded more easily. But for regular basics, things that are likely to come up, it can be useful to brainstorm what might help you in the moment. This helps you generate a list to keep on hand. For loved ones (especially those you live with), it can be a lifeline when they WANT to help but don’t know how. And even if you live alone or don’t have a community to rely on, having a plan in place for bad days can prevent you from completely blanking on how to take care of yourself.
But where to start? Well, one option is this tarot spread that I created for the occasion. It will pinpoint a specific need that you aren’t currently addressing well, and give you some methods for troubleshooting.
1. What need do I have that isn’t being met?
2. What’s stopping me from asking for that need to be met?
3. Who could help me meet this need?
4. How can I best ask for what I need?
As always, I’ve done a sample reading for myself to show you one way the spread might play out. I used my brand new Ophidia Rose deck, which may become a new favorite. I have a special fondness for botanical-themed decks, and this one is knock-your-socks-off gorgeous.
What need do I have that isn’t being met? Hilarious to draw Strength for this question, but I knew right away what my deck meant. I love being a source of support and strength for my loved ones, but when I’m going through a bad time, I find it much harder to lean on them. Or even let them know that I need them around for leaning. The Strength card often reminds us that vulnerability is true strength, and I need to let myself be vulnerable more readily with the people I love. This need is unmet because I’m not acknowledging it in myself, especially when it comes to emotional/mental needs. It’s hard enough for me to ask my spouse to get me a glass of water when standing is too painful. It’s several orders of magnitude harder to ask them to hold me while I cry. But that’s what I need to learn to do.
What’s stopping me from asking for that need to be met? Here I pulled the Two of Pentacles. Many of the Pents speak to self-sufficiency and getting your resources in order, but for the Two in particular I think of balancing many commitments and managing time well. In this case, in this spread, I…do not do that well. I get too excited about too many things, I throw myself into helping too many people, and then I find myself spread too thin and flaring up and struggling to admit to myself or my loved ones that I overdid it. My roadblock is poor time management, and a propensity to overdo it when I need to be prioritizing myself sometimes, too.
Who could help me meet this need? Justice is a peculiar draw for this question. It isn’t a card that immediately suggests any of my close confidantes. I think perhaps this points to the incredible community of humans I’ve built up as a whole. It’s easy to worry about overloading someone when you need to vent or ask for a lot of help. But I have so many good people ready to step up if I just hecking ASK them. If one of them isn’t in a good place to assist, I have other people who could jump in. As one of my favorite authors Alix E. Harrow writes in The Once and Future Witches, “She thought survival was a selfish thing, a circle drawn tight around your heart. She thought the more people you let inside that circle the more ways the world had to hurt you, the more ways you could fail them and be failed in turn. But what if it’s the opposite, and there are more people to catch you when you fall? What if there’s an invisible tipping point somewhere along the way when one becomes three becomes infinite, when there are so many of you inside that circle that you become hydra-headed, invincible?”
How can I best ask for what I need? Ace of Swords. If tarot decks could speak out loud, this one would be shouting at me, “JUST SAY IT.” The Ace of Swords stands for clarity and clear communication. Enough said, really. I am perfectly capable of using my voice to help others, so I need to be just as willing to speak up for myself.
As I said, this spread isn’t comprehensive by any stretch of the imagination. But it is a starting place. Once you’ve identified one need that isn’t being met and put a plan into place to address it, you could do the same spread again to find your next step. Or just doing this one time through might set your mental gears in motion and you might not need the full spread—you could just pull one card for “what need isn’t being met right now” and go from there. The important thing is, you have a springboard to jump from.
If you use this spread and find it meaningful, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Or if you’re feeling especially generous, send me a tip at ko-fi (link is below this post)!