Finding Peace after being left in pieces

Done | Mixed Media Art | Tree Talker Art | Rachael Caringella

Happy New Moon!

My blog has been a major part of my life and livelihood for several years now. I've been doing my best to blog and update it regularly even though it got very difficult to keep blogging these last few years.

This post has been kind of eating at me for a little while now. It just feels like there are some things I really need to get off my chest. I've had a lot of time to reflect on things lately, and I need to update my blog about what's going on in my life.

Sterling left me again.

This time instead of moving the to a neighboring cabin, he chose to move back home to another state.

I’m feeling the swirl of emotions that come with any breakup... It’s been a few weeks since he officially left, and I’ve been on the swing of both confusion, anger and grief. (Though writing this post has helped me tremendously.) There is no real time limit on healing, and I'm not writing this to vent or lament and I hope I don't sound spiteful or resentful. But, I wanted to update my blog about what has been going on, because so many of you were "there" when we first began our relationship, and I had so much hope that we would see things through. I know you did too.

This post is also in part, a way of me reaching out to others who might be in a similar situation, but might not see it yet. I know it's important to respect an ex and not continue to air your dirty laundry, but transparency and honesty can save lives.

Lightning Strikes | Tree Talker Art | Offgrid artist living

I’m still feeling a sense of shock over everything that's happened these last few weeks.  Shocked at him leaving so abruptly, and confused why things turned violent. The murky memories of the past 6 years tell me he loved me, but his actions spoke otherwise. 

Substance abuse also played a major role in all of this, and as I’ve done my soul searching, I’ve noticed that there were other subtle and not so subtle forms of abuse that piled up without me noticing. It was like the moment it all came to light, he immediately threw me away to begin a new life.

I haven’t gone into too many details of what’s gone on in our relationship or how it all ended. I still am unsure how much I feel comfortable sharing, but at the height of this all, I did reach out and alert my Facebook tribe that I was feeling in danger and was needing support. I was in a place where I could no longer even think straight for myself and I was scared. 

Narcissist

The relationship began in what felt like such a "perfect" way, so when things got ugly, I weirdly clung to the hope that things would go back to the way they were in the beginning. When things were good, they were really good. But when things were bad, they were terrifying. Things got so ugly and intense that I feel like I get whiplash if I even try to look back on the 6 years and find out what went wrong. 

By the end of it all, he had been drunk and angry for 9 days straight and was hell-bent on destroying my life. I was actually afraid that he would begin making good on the threats he had made towards me the previous night. The cops were called the night prior, due to the yelling and my pleading for him to calm down.

He told me if the cops were ever called again he would take it out on me physically, reminding me that he doesn't hit softly. He screamed at me for 5 hours straight that night... Telling me he was an enlightened man, yelling at me- that I was lucky he hasn't killed me or raped me. Yet. Yelling at me that everyone dies alone.

I laid in bed that night, huddled under a blanket, clutching my fur-babies and holding up my phone... I was recording everything I could as he yelled at me through the door. I was terrified he would "catch me" and hoping it would not be the last thing my family would hear from me. I prayed the cops did come that night, even if it meant him trying to harm me. All of the statistics of domestic violence and homicide were running through my head that night. I don't remember what stopped him, but he eventually went outside.

The next day, he didn't sober up. Instead he drank more, and called and scared my family and then sent off a message to my landlords in an attempt to destroy my reputation and relationship with them as well.

Everything that wasn't broken in me shattered that day. I had seen his true colors, he knew it. Shortly after that he announced he was leaving.

Relief flooded my body. I had been living in fear of breaking up with him for months. I was afraid of what could happen physically if I even tried to say anything about it.

I poured out the remaining alcohol in an act of bravery and over the course of the week he sobered up... That's when the hard part actually started. That's when I had to get really brave.

He began acting like his normal self again... It was like he started acting the way he did when we met. He told me he understood everything now. He finally saw things my way. His eyes were wide open. He told me how amazing I was. How smart I am, even though literally the day before he was screaming "STUPID GIRL" in my face. 

Narcissist behavior warning

I realized his cycles of love bombing and the Jekyll and Hyde behavior (which he openly admitted to) were very real. Not just wonderings in the back of my mind.

He apologized profusely that week, and told me what a changed man he was now that all of it happened. How I was the best thing that ever happened to him. I had changed him.

He told me through his abuse, I was given the gift of inner strength and ability to strike boundaries. He told me I would make great artwork from the broken heart he gave me.

I felt that dagger in my heart twist. 

I held it together despite wanting to spew fire. I understand it is helpful to see our trials in a positive light and turn them into strengths, but hearing it straight from the mouth of my abuser made me feel sick. I began to purge my own belongings in a mad fury to cleanse my environment and prepare the house for myself. 

I had decided the moment he had told me he was leaving that I wanted it to end as well as possible and not in a fit of rage. I didn't want to even look at him, but I know in my heart of hearts you never regret extending kindness and compassion. We took loads to the thrift store, the dump and prepared him for his trip home. 

It was a long and tiring week. He pulled out of the driveway on a Sunday, at 5:30 am. Exactly one week to the minute of when the threats and yelling that still scar my memories finally stopped. 

Monsoon Season | Tree Talker Art

After he pulled away, I silently slipped into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror for a pep-talk.

Instead of speaking, I took a good look at myself. My eyes were so tired. My feet and hands were blistered and bruised from helping with the move.

My body weight is and was dangerously low. I’ve always been underweight and skinny, but I currently weigh in at a scary 85 pounds.

When I saw what the scale read, I kinda just crumpled onto the floor. I held what I could of myself together while realizing just how much of myself I had been giving away.

The stress from carrying the daily domestic chores, the emotional labor and full financial responsibility with the growing drinking habits and the constant fighting took a massive toll on me. He hadn't worked in over a year and wasn't unable to bring in any income to help me. On top of it all, I was desperately trying to stay creative and make the art that is inside of me, all while trying to keep and maintain a happy relationship.

Cob House | Rachael Caringella | Tree Talker Art

Now I am alone here, with the added full brunt of the physical labor too. 

I made a vow to eat 3 meals a day and lift weights daily and went to bed to have nightmares for the several nights.

I felt entirely depleted of myself. Like a paint tube with all the paint squeezed out.

I wanted to sleep for months.

I asked myself often over the next several days, how did something so wonderful turn this violent? How did it get this bad?? (Real talk- I just had to edit that from "how did I let this get this bad")

Things started off so perfectly, but the changes happened over time. I would receive love notes in the morning, but at night I would be crying myself to sleep over a fight that came out of nowhere. This behavior started off tiny, but grew and grew. I would make plans or deadlines, and watch drama come up that sucked my attention and energy away from my art and work. It happened every time.  For some reason, I didn't see it. 

After a while, I had such a hard time being able to connect with others. His jealousy would rear it's head often, and I slowly found myself not talking to anyone in fear of seeming like a flirt. It slowly turned into an inability to respond to messages, emails or even post to my own blog. But, I didn't see it.

Marissa and I were texting one day back when I lived at the cabin, and she asked how things were going. I mentioned another fight happened, and she said something that really shook me. It shouldn't have, it was so small, but it did. She said "Rachael, do you know that normal relationships are not like that." 

I realized I hadn't really known what a normal relationship was in a long time. None of my previous relationships were ever this tumultuous. While her comment did strike me in a profound way, I still thought "There is hope." I was still missing something.

He moved out to another cabin shortly after that conversation when a simple misunderstanding between us when awry. Back then he moved to the cabin next door, so we could work things out during the winter. When his contract was nearly up, he told me how much he finally saw my side. His eyes were wide open. He needed me in his life, and I let him move back in. Though he never even fully unpacked. He kept bags packed in the spare room and let me on to think he could leave at any time.

For years I felt like I was walking on egg shells. It was like there were invisible trip-wires everywhere. If I mentioned one complaint, or said one wrong thing, it somehow snowballed into a massive fight despite my desperate efforts to just maintain peace. Small arguments turned into huge outbursts where I was called names and insulted. My intelligence was questioned, and my sexuality and gender constantly held against me and mocked when I had tried so hard to avoid confrontation.

Off Grid Cob House | Tree Talker Art

Before we moved here to the desert, I tried to play my last card. I said, "We cannot move to an even more remote location if life continues to be like this. We need to figure out boundaries on alcohol, and the fights need to be tempered down into conversations... I just want peace." I told him I would move alone if he could not agree to these things. Maybe it was naive of me to try that but I did what I felt best at the time. He agreed, and I had hope once again.

We moved here and those terms were not met. In fact, everything got so much worse.

I began to think it was all my fault.

I was seeking therapy. I wasn't eating, I was always stressed trying to make rent, keep the house clean and come up with meal ideas. I was nauseated all the time from the vitamins and supplements I was taking to stave off the panic attacks that met me every morning.

By the end of this, I was looking up different mental conditions that I might have had... because over time, not only was I doubting my own thoughts and emotions, I was doubting who I was entirely. 

Even the week he was moving out he was giving me simple tips on driving, "teaching" me daily simple tasks that I had been doing every day for years. It was like for the first time, I really saw how stupid he thought I was. 

Why didn't I see it all before?

Narcissism warning

Because it happened slowly over time. I was conditioned to it. The beginning seemed so good, that I always held out hope that it would go back to the way it was before. Because of this, I wasn't honest with myself or others around me. Because of that, I was blinded. 

I'm writing this blog post to those who might not see it either.

I was miserable for several months to a year when I didn't need to be. I was putting my hope in the wrong place and person. It shouldn't have to take a night of terror and violence to have finally gotten honest with myself, and so I hope it never gets to that point for anyone else.

Rachael Caringella | Tree Talker Art

Like mentioned earlier, I had reached out to my friends online during the height of this and I was flooded with love and support.

One of the biggest things that helped me the most was the other women who had been through similar situations. I hated to hear how many went through it... but they helped me see all of the things that I was missing.

Other women helped me recognize the patterns that were at play and even told me what to expect. They helped me name the monster I was up against. I was sent helpful articles and videos. I was so unsure what was going on, I needed other women to have been through it before to show me the pieces I was missing.

I would not have been able to navigate these waters alone.

I never meant to scare anyone, like I hope he didn’t mean to scare me. In fact, I still go through bouts of wondering how intentional his behaviors and actions truly were. But I've been told I may have many years of those questions and healing to go through.

I understand that some people might not think it's right for me to share some of these details that I shared here, but there is a part of me that needed to share this in order to remember it, in order to heal. I was against my every intention, but this is part of my #metoo story now.

I can only hope that others out there will recognize toxic abusive behavior before it gets out of hand. If you are constantly confused, reach out and hear the stories of others. It's so much harder to leave than anyone ever expects. I get that. But reach out if you can. Friends will be honest with you when you can't be honest with yourself.

I had been in the fight or flight mode for years. Alarms were constantly going off in my head and heart. My intuition for myself and my own needs was not always accurate. For years I felt a sense of dissociation from the fights. Reaching out felt hard. But I really wish I had reached out sooner. 

Being vulnerable the way I did was life changing for me. It forced light onto the situation that I kept hiding from myself.

 

Rachael Caringella | Tree Talker Art

Each day since has been getting a little better and I'm finding more peace as the nightmares slowly decrease with time.

I'm trying to give up feelings of responsibility and fault over all of this. Part of me feels responsible that he might hurt someone else in the future because I'm no longer the target.

I realize that'a not really mine to carry, but knowing the cycles that I've seen, shows me the likelihood of him laughing this off and treating another woman as carelessly as he did me.

Break ups are hard as is. Watching someone who said they will always be there for you, drive away with your dreams of the future is heartbreaking. 

But the questions that still bounce around in my head, bumping into the threats, and ricocheting off the names and insults hurt just  as bad as the abuse.

I don't think I'll ever truly know all the answers as to why this all happened. I hope the hurting doesn't continue to spread. 

Restless Disdain | Tree Talker Art | Rachael Caringella | Mixed Media Art

 

"More than a storm,

I am the monsoon.

You will never feel warm,

because I will eat the moon.

Foreboding rain,

Keep your restless disdain."

 

(The paintings shown in this post will be available this Full Moon in my next shop update!)

Rachael Caringella | Tree Talker

Sign up for my patreon to be the first to see my newest work! You'll also have access to my private blog, videos and other fun stuff! 

 

 

Rachael Caringella

I am an Artist, Mystic and Oracle. I have been creating since I was little, and am constantly working on something new in the studio. I also have a passion for illustration. I have illustrated a few children's books as well as some Tarot decks and Oracle decks. Aside from creating art, I am also a card reader. I specialize in Tarot and Crystal readings. I love all things mystic, and spiritual and I delight in the mixture of creation and intuition.

Fall in Love with Mandalas! Free mandalas for coloring & meditation

Happy New Moon! 

If you know me, you know I love mandalas. I always has have. Circluar and floral designs are and have always been my “go-to.” I’m pretty sure I started doodling them as soon as I could draw.

Tree Talker Art Mandalas

They helped me overcome my need for perfection in a lot of ways, and kept me inspired when I couldn’t think of what to draw or felt bored. 

I got a lot of practice in church and math class. They helped me pay attention, despite how it looked, I’m sure. I usually just started with flowers, and expanded them over the entire page with time.

In high school, one of my art classes required a concentration of twelve different, but themed set of  works. I chose people and portraits one year, but the other year I chose to concentrate on mandalas. 

The project required research and resources so I was able to learn a bit about them. This was back before google was widely used and I really couldn’t find much information on them! A few books at the library, and the information on the temporary sand mandalas of Tibetan monks was really all I had.

I didn’t learn about any of Jung's work until after several years of creating mandalas of my own. 

I’m glad I kept creating and researching them; they’ve have a profound impact on my life. I even taught a segment about them when I was teaching art class, and online courses several years back.

Tree Talker Art Mandalas and Spirit de la Lune Card | Free Colorable Mandalas

I usually never know what my mandalas will look like when I start and that’s the best part. 

Mandalas came up again when Marissa invited me to collaborate with her on Spirit de la Lune and that’s when my knowledge truly deepened. Pairing them with the moon phases and intentions opened up a whole new world. Spirit de la Lune eventually led to Untamed Truth Oracle, which also features a lot of mandalas!

A few years ago I made some colorable mandalas and honestly was never truly happy with them. I mean, I was, but they just didn’t look like the mandalas that I draw in my journals.

I recently was able to get two new programs to help me create the mandalas that I feel are mine. It actually takes 3 (sometimes 4) programs to create these new ones, but the end results are SO worth it! 

I've been creating a lot of mandalas this month, and today, not only do I have 4 free mandalas for you below, but I am releasing some new colorable mandala packs in the shop

There are 5 new “elemental” mandalas packs. You can get them separate, or the entire pack!

These colorable mandalas are a great way to embody the elements and meditate! Especially when paired with an intention. 

 

Check them out here!  

In honor of the new mandalas in the shop and the launch of my patreon,

I’m giving you 4 free mandalas today! No contests or drawings. Just a free download. 

(I mean, you can sign up for my newsletter if you want. ;) )

Please feel free to download these mandalas! There is a sample from the "Air", "Aether" and "Earth" packs, and one that I made especially for today! Color them in and use them! I would love to see what you create with these. 

I use the colorable mandalas for meditation while I color them. They are great ways to slow down your brain and focus while utilizing color!

Colorable Mandala Crystal Grid

Color has a huge impact on our moods and emotions so coloring in a mandala is just as much a meditation as drawing one, especially if you set an intention, or look for a lesson while you color.

When the mandala is finished, not only do you have a beautiful creation, but you can use it as a crystal/intention grid or use it to charge your decks or cards.

I’ve also have a free downloadable mandala wallpaper design for your devices as well! 

I seriously create mandalas all the time... But most of them stay tucked away in my art journals or saved to my computer or phone. Some do go up in my Etsy shop as downloads...

but I'd like to share more so you can fall in love with mandalas too! 

Download this wallpaper background and let me know what you think! It is 25"x25" and 300dpi, so let me know if you have problems or suggest another format. It's been a long time since I've offered wallpapers.

Free Mandala Desktop background

If you enjoy mandalas too and would love a new colorable one as well as a new wallpaper for your devices each month, please check out my Patreon! 

There are several different options you can choose from to support me and my art! I even have tiers that include bi-monthly prints, mail from me, and even original paintings.

Plus, supporting me on Patreon will give you a better behind the scenes look at my my life as an off grid artist and oracle deck creator! You’ll get to see things first, and have access to the private feed and blog, including tips, behind the scenes photos and videos. I would love to have you join me on my Patreon journey! 

Please check out and download these colorable mandalas and wallpaper and let me know what you think!  Which one is your favorite? I’m partial to the birch tree one, but the teeth one is a close second. (I’m an Aries, I read we have a thing for teeth!) Let me know your favorite mandala in the comments and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram so I can share your mandalas!

Rachael Caringella | Tree Talker Art
 
 
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Rachael Caringella

I am an Artist, Mystic and Oracle. I have been creating since I was little, and am constantly working on something new in the studio. I also have a passion for illustration. I have illustrated a few children's books as well as some Tarot decks and Oracle decks. Aside from creating art, I am also a card reader. I specialize in Tarot and Crystal readings. I love all things mystic, and spiritual and I delight in the mixture of creation and intuition.

Breaking Through the Creative Barriers with the Lefty Oracle deck created by Kathy Crabbe | Deck review

Happy Monday! I am hopefully spending this week in the art studio! Luckily it will only be dependent on time, (and off grid chores) not artist block this time. Which is really nice. Last week I was up against a bit of a creative wall, and am so happy to have found this new tool to help me battle through these blocks. I couldn't have asked for better timing to have gotten this new deck!

I’m really excited to show you this fun and inspiring oracle deck today! This one is perfect for those of you who may suffer from creative blocks like I do. 

My last review featured some darker themes, and this one is what feels like on the opposite of the spectrum. I just love having such duality in my collection. This deck holds a very light and playful energy to it.. and I know you will love as much as I do!

The Lefty Oracle by Kathy | Review by Rachael Caringella

The Lefty Oracle

The Lefty Oracle Deck is a whimsical 54 card oracle deck created by Kathy Crabbe. The deck comes in a white box with a downloadable full color PDF guidebook. This deck was created entirely with Kathy's non-dominant hand! Each card features a playful fanciful character to guide you deep into your subconscious.

This deck made me giggle out loud as I flipped through the cards. It is bursting with playful childlike energy that I was desperately needing!

Deck Title: The Lefty Oracle

Creator: Kathy Crabbe

Buy the Deck  

About the Deck and Creator: 

"The Lefty Oracle Deck and 92 page Guidebook will help you break through creative blocks, identify your gifts and empower your intuition so you can move forward in a playful and profoundly life changing way.”

Kathy is a soul-reader and professional artist and creator. Aside from being a full time creative, she also offers classes and workshops. There is even a special class just for this deck!  She is also living in a hand-built house (built by her own hands!) surrounded by desert and forest. Her and I chatted a bit and it turns out we have quite a bit in common, and I've got tons to learn from her! She truly lives life creatively and is an inspiration.

(Read more about Kathy here

The Lefty Oracle by Kathy Crabbe | Review by Rachael Caringella

first impressions:

I giggled and laughed as I looked through each card! My initial impression of this deck was love at first sight. It's so fun to work with and the energy is just so refreshing. 

Something about the art is thought provoking enough that it makes you stop and really notice the beauty and message in the details. 

I absolutely love the white minimal background and the simple handwritten/hand stamped words. The simplicity makes for great self interpretation.

The deck is so playful and raw. Just flipping through it, I can tell it holds tons of healing opportunities as well... and I hadn't even gotten to the guidebook yet!

Size: 3.5'' x 5.75'' Larger than typical Tarot Cards

Number of Cards: 54 cards, with 2 "Mantra Cards"

The card's stock is 300 gsm, which probably doesn't mean much to most people, but this is the standard stock for most card decks. Which makes them on the thin side but proves to be a positive thing as the thin stock helps make shuffling the larger cards easier. No complaints here. The size of the deck is perfect for the artwork on it.

The Lefty Oracle by Kathy Crabbe | Review by Rachael Caringella

The doodles and drawings are so unique and fun. Each card is pleasantly unexpected and surprising. Like I mentioned, the entire deck was created with Kathy's left hand! This makes the movements and gestures raw, authentic and channeled straight from the most creative part of Kathy's brain. Brilliant.

When I was little, I broke my left hand, and my left wrist, so I've always had a hard time even holding a pencil with my left hand. I even got kicked off the Steel Drum club in jr high because I couldn't roll my left wrist. I still really can't. 

But in art class, I used to practice drawing left handed. I actually got pretty good! But working with Kathy's deck made me realize that getting "good" at left handed drawings isn't really the point. Working with the non-dominant hand holds so much more creative potential than that. 

The Lefty Oracle by Kathy Crabbe | Review by Rachael Caringella
The Lefty Oracle by Kathy Crabbe | Review by Rachael Caringella

guidebook and box

The deck comes in a simple white tuck box with a window to display the card backs. 

There are 2 mantra cards included with the deck, and a downloadable pdf guidebook. 

While the cards are great for self interpretation, I would recommend the guidebook for sure! The guidebook lists several unique suggestions for working with the deck.

The guidebook is 92 pages with each card’s interpretation and meaning, as well as expressive body movement challenges, non-dominant hand excercsises and other helpful insights you can use to fully embrace each card. I especially love each character’s song.

My favorite thing about having a digital guidebook is that I will never lose it! My phone is always with me, so I can always carry the wisdom of these cards with me. If I’m ever out of the house, and want to remember a part of my reading I don’t have to go home to learn more.

the CARDS

The Lefty Oracle is heartwarmingly silly, raw and truthful. This deck was designed to stimulate your intuitive abilities as well as wake up your creative self... and you can really feel it by just flipping through the cards! 

This deck is actually very versatile. It can be used for regular readings for clients or yourself, but it is also an affirmation deck and a story telling deck! There are so many possiblities with this deck.

This deck would be great for writing groups, Moon circles and artist prompts just to name a few. The guidebook even has creative prompts for making your own deck or working in your journal. 

 
The Lefty Oracle by Kathy Crabbe | Review by Rachael Caringella
 
The Lefty Oracle by Kathy | Review by Rachael Caringella

What is different about this deck is that each card features a character. It’s almost like a deck full of court cards... but so much easier to read.

Court Cards can be a bit intimidating, this deck however is not. The messages are gentle but still bold.

Each card is unique and empowering. The cards are simple, yet intricate. I love how some cards offer an empowering phrase, while some are silly and some are left blank. This leaves so much to self interpretation and self reflection.

The left handed drawings are delightful to look at. Working with and even looking at art from the non-dominant hand offers us a fresh perspective. It causes us to see things differently.

I pulled a reading for myself and decided to follow the prompts in the guidebook when it came to creative journaling. I gave left handed art a go again... and loved the results.

     

It was so much fun working left handed again! Like I said I used to push myself to do left handed work in school. But this experience was different because I had a newer perspective than the last time I tried.

I really had to try to "loosen up" this time.

I started with the fox, (a trickster aspect inspired by the Carolee Card) but soon had to remind myself that it didn't have to be perfect. I moved onto the little tree gal in the corner, and again had to remind myself to not get sucked into the need for perfection.. by the time I was scribbling in those aspens, and flames  I knew what my affirmation from the reading was going to be. (I apparently give too many foxes and need a good reminder.)

Working with this deck was like a breath of fresh air. This process inspired some new ideas for the future, and brought up a lot of past memories. Reminding myself to draw with my left hand felt healing for my own inner child as I finally did let loose. The reading and creative journal prompt helped me realize quite a bit about myself!

I love combining tarot and oracle cards with my art and art journaling. I'm thinking I may use this deck for my next segment in Pull Pen Paint!

This definitely will be one of my go-to decks to break past creative blocks! 

It's also a great deck for self readings. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time reading for myself. Sometimes even with my own decks! I love how much you can interpret this deck on your own, but I also love all of the additional ideas the guidebook has to offer.

This deck makes for a great tool for anyone wanting to get to know themselves on a deeper level, break down creative walls, and feel empowered while doing so. The deck is a soothing one, created to awaken your intuition and stir your creativity in a gentle manner.

 Photo Credit: Lori Ann Beach

Photo Credit: Lori Ann Beach

  

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Rachael Caringella

I am an Artist, Mystic and Oracle. I have been creating since I was little, and am constantly working on something new in the studio. I also have a passion for illustration. I have illustrated a few children's books as well as some Tarot decks and Oracle decks. Aside from creating art, I am also a card reader. I specialize in Tarot and Crystal readings. I love all things mystic, and spiritual and I delight in the mixture of creation and intuition.