TrueHeartWork | Elizabeth Gilbert
665
archive,tag,tag-elizabeth-gilbert,tag-665,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,select-theme-ver-3.1,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.12,vc_responsive
 

Elizabeth Gilbert Tag

Trojan Horses 12

Here It Is

Trojan Horse 3I met an old lady once, almost a hundred years old, and she told me, there are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? And Who’s in charge―Elizabeth Gilbert

We sprinkle the word, empowerment like brown sugar over the snowy dome of a frothy latté. Popular self-help books and magazines deliver fast-fix formulae and labels that hook like velcro—Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Here it is—in bedrooms, boardrooms, in political power-plays, the subtext is: How much do you love me? Who’s in charge?

trump-may-0

The words we use to fight our personal Waterloos so often keep us mired in rigid roles. Our unexamined beliefs about other people’s pre-digested ideas surgically clamp our happiness and self-esteem.

 

We speak of empowering ourselves. Yet, so often standing up for what we believe is right and putting our partner down are part of an outmoded belief that power struggles and relationships are inseparable. How much do you love me? You emotionally disabledco-dependent, narcissist? (Narcissism is a clinical personality disorder that affects a small percentage—one to three, say some sources—of the population.)

In the war about who’s right and who’s wrong, how much you love me and who’s in charge, there’s no room for relationship. Says psychologist, Terry Real, “proving just how right you are can be a tough temptation to walk away from. But relationship grown-ups understand that being right is not the real point. Finding a solution is.”

In his book, The New Rules of Marriage, Real writes, “letting go of the need to be right is a core principle of relationship empowerment: learning to live a non-violent life. Non-violent between you and others. Non-violent between your ears. Scolding your partner as if you were his mother, passing judgement on him, humiliating him. These are all forms of psychological violence.”

hands clasped

Our expectations of relationships have changed exponentially. As we step beyond the confines of the old paradigms of gender based homemaker/breadwinner, women and our men and want intimacy—emotionally, sexually, intellectually and physically. Yet in our patriarchal culture, intimacy is relegated to the feminine principle. Mostly it’s women who embark upon Heroine’s Quest to better their lack lustre relationships. We buy the books and sign up for online offerings. We make the appointments for couples’ counselling.

And yet, so many of us still vacillate between becoming shrilly empowered and/or resigned to the “emotionally disabled” man from Mars. We complain about the state the world is in and continue to pollute our own relationship quantum field with words that nick and scratch and lodge in the sanctum of our lover’s heart.

1190.1“We always marry someone with the purpose of finishing our childhood,” says psychologist Harville Hendrix. And we’re unconsciously drawn to people who will guarantee a re-enactment of the old, familiar relationship dynamics we grew up with.

 

Our challenge is to rewire our brain circuitry with words that heal old wounds.

The astrological Retrograde cycle of Mercury occurs three times every year and moves through the elements of fire, air, earth and water in a procession across the zodiac, alerting us the rhythm of inner reflection that is needed for a more conscious experience of living. Mercury’s realm is magical trans-formation. He was the god of cross-roads and times of transition. Mercury was the only god who travelled back and forth from the Underworld.  stop

Astrological Mercury embodies eons of symbolism that can be traced to the Babylonian, Chaldean, Egyptian mythology and religious systems. A strongly placed Mercury in your birth chart enhances your ability to be humourous and charming. Mercury is the teacher, the comedian, the networker, the communicator, the trickster who brings lightness and laughter and a new perspective to our world. Mercury is also associated with Thoth, the Egyptian god of healing and fertility and it is with our words that we can heal, with our words that we can birth new possibilities. Mercury is an important planet in our birth chart, as he brings information from the unconscious. In these Mercury Retrograde cycles, our perceptions may shift, igniting the creative process, birthing brilliant ideas.Stand by me 1

Right now, we are all, on some level, experiencing a Mercury Retrograde cycle in the fiery sign of Aries—From April 25th to May 11 th , Mercury conjoins Uranus. The planet, Uranus is associated with upheaval, sudden change and with innovation—the Tower card in Tarot. So, our intuition, vision, innovation may be heightened at best. Our reptile brain reactivity may be on full alert at worst—the kind of reactivity based on that old lady’s beliefs about relationship.

Trojan Horses 6Mercury’s Retrograde cycle is an opportunity to be honest with our selves about our style of relating, the part we play in polluting our relationship space. So, how do we conceal our own vulnerability behind the cement wall of intractable beliefs about our partner? How do we own our wants and desires? How do we listen? How do we set boundaries and assert ourselves? How do we back off generously? How do we embrace and accept the relationship we have? How do we actively champion our partner and our relationship?

woman on a road“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature”, says Thich Nhat Hanh. Today, let’s bring new vision, self-reflection and healing to our words. Today, we have a choice to re-write our signature.

Here It Is ~ Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson

 

0
1
couple-168191_960_720

The One I Love

in love 2In myth, Venus retrograde periods are cosmic magnifying glasses, amplifying our inherent values and intimate desires. We may be blindsided by the behaviour of our lover, pressed down by the weight of the frustrations, the drama of it all. We may have reached a crossroad where we wonder, as author, Elizabeth Gilbert once did, “do we want our belly pressed against this person’s belly forever—or not?”

In myth, Innana (Venus) is stripped of all her valued regalia and exquisite clothing. She enters the Underworld vulnerable and exposed. In modern times, the Underworld is a symbol of our own unconscious where we may encounter a truth that reverberates viscerally. The trial of these 40 days and 40 nights are a cosmic reminder for us to dissolve, discard, out-worn values and beliefs. To re-organise, re-examine, re-prioritise those things we value around a more truthful, authentic place that nestles at the hearth of our heart.Venus 26

In astrology, Venus is about relationship. Retrograde cycles emphasise those areas in our lives where we unconsciously lead with our wound. Where we move through life like a somnambulist. Where we make Shadow choices that we draw from compulsive, unexamined cultural programming or adaptations to past trauma.

Psychology uses the language of self-empowerment, internalisation. In therapy, we may learn skills that help us leave behind the legacy of our old conditioning, surpass our constricted hurt lives, all by ourselves. And yet it is in relationship that we encounter our Shadow and our Light.

“It’s a tough, anti-relational world out there. Relationships between men and women have never been more difficult,” therapist Terry Real believes. “Close to half of couples getting married will divorce. And there are far too many couples who suffer in relationships that lack the passion and closeness we all deserve.”hand-1613399__480

These 40 days and 40 nights bring an opportunity to transform vicious cycles into charmed circles. The Archetype of Venus transcends gender and sexual preference. What your partner wants might not fit neatly into a heart-shaped cookie-cutter. As Venus magnifies and amplifies our most private and intimate relationships, do we dare ask ourselves, what do men want?  Pretty much the same as woman—with all the subtle water—coloured nuances and dappled light. To to be fully seen. To be heard and validated. To be loved. Just as they are.

Blood-soaked centuries of patriarchal conditioning have programmed men and silenced women.

Writes Robert Bly, “many men numb themselves so they’re not expressive. If you’re too expressive in IBM, you get fired”.

Terry Real believes, “men are just doing what they have been programmed to do—work hard, try to be more involved in the family, try to be responsible and responsive—and feel that they will never get it right.”

Venus in her retrograde cycle invites usTrojan Horse 3 to slow downour speech, our movements, our breath, the beat of our heart. To be present with ourselves, with our man, in a way that engages all the cells in our body and makes our heart expand like a Super Nova…

In A Plea to Women, John Wineland imagines that what all men want isLess. “Our nervous systems can’t handle more. We love range. Especially in bed. We want the Divine Mother, the cock-worshipping whore. Find ways to playfully and lovingly bring that to us. Try to separate the tools that you use to succeed in business from the tools that you use in our relationship. We want more of your vulnerability, more of your fear, more of your pain, we don’t want to be told what book to read, what seminar to go to what therapist to see, we want to be told how painful it is for you when we don’t show up for you… we want you to find something in us every day that you trust implicitly…. because the thing we want the most is to feel that you trust us and that you would let us lead you anywhere and find some way to continually surrender.”love actually 2

Now as Venus withdraws from the light of the Sun, she’s “in the dark”. A fragile, vulnerable, a faded version of her former splendour. Venus has the same eight phases as the Moon. As she aligns with the Sun, a mythic mating, a Venus new “moon”, an alchemical union with our soul-self. She reveals herself, resplendent and radiant once more, as Venus the morning star (March 24th,) offering clear vision, new revelation of  our heart’s desireimagesQNGE4N2G.

Two archetypal energy forces are activated in ourselves and globally as Venus moves between fiery Aries and watery Pisces these 40 days and 40 nights. In Aries, Venus hunts Mars. She’s the warrior, the activist, the persecutor, the feisty rebel. In relationship, tone down the volume. “Try to separate the tools that you use to succeed in business from the tools that you use in our relationship.”

In dreamy Pisces, she’s exulted, raised on high in love but also in escapism, delusion, illusion and fantasy. She may be the victim, the rescuer. She may search for the Mystical Lover in the vain hope of redemption. Use this symbolism to appraise your own relational style.  We want to be told how painful it is for you when we don’t show up for you…

Philosopher, Lao Tzu once said, “being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

When Venus appears again as the Angel of the Dawn, dare to love generously, deeply, expansively, creatively. Bring forth the Divine Spark within you and blaze brightly out into the world.aphrodite-the-olympians-16599123-1000-579

R.E.M.The One I Love

 

 

1
0
Flo

Wonderful Tonight

Venus 27February is the month of seduction. Hearts laid bare in the guise of cuddly teddy bears, clichéd greeting cards and red roses. Amidst the turbulence and negativity in the world right now, it’s in the pleasure of preliminaries that our life force swells.

Somatic life-coach and dancer, Chen Lizra, describes seduction as an untapped power that we can use with integrity and charm if know what we want and have the courage and confidence to go out and get it. Seduction comes from the heart, she says in a TED talk well worth watching.  And seduction is played out against the coral-coloured breast of the western horizon this month as Venus ardently pursues her lover, Mars, confident and cocky in Aries. He’s on home ground. Venus in Aries is Zena the Warrior, Lara Croft. She blazes forth, resplendent and seductive, playing with possibility then on March 4th  she withdraws, dives once more into the shimmering waters of Pisces where she swims until April 16th.

imagesHIU142MC

This is reminiscent of the same celestial dance choreographed and performed eight years ago when Venus in Aries stationed, then retrograded in Pisces.  So what does this all mean for us in a culture that’s permeated with corporate political correctness and a work ethic dictated by linear time and light-saturated nights?

Venus has her own cycles. Like those of our bodies, they’re ancient and mysterious, beyond the reach of the rational mind, secreted within the moist wisdom of our cells. In her chase across the skies, she slows, then regresses for forty days and forty nights. Within the dominant culture, forty days and forty nights is associated with deluge, temptation, trial, and tribulation. In astrology, Retrograde cycles invite us to go back over familiar ground, to reflect, re-evaluate.  She’s staying a while in the fiery sign of Aries so from February 4th until June 5th except for when she dives back into the iridescent waters of Pisces on April 3rd, remaining there until April 29th, revisiting that fragile 29 degree of Pisces which will affect, on some level, all those who have planets at that degree of mutable signs. She’ll whet our appetite for passion, the delight of play, the boundlessness of our imagination, if we allow her to.

black and redVenus’s seductive charms beckon us away from the intellect. She invites us to follow our heart’s desire, to revel in fantasy and sensual pleasure, dance, music, deep relaxation to re-claim our eroticism. Octavio Paz writes, “eroticism is the poetry of the body, the testimony of the senses. Like a poem, it is not linear, it meanders and twists back on itself, shows us what we do not see with our eyes, but in the eyes of our spirit…”

 Says sex therapist, Esther Perel, Egalitarianism, of course, is one of the greatest advancements in modern society, but it has exacted a toll in the erotic realm. It invokes such civic rights as respect, care, compromise, and other morally laudable principles, whereas sexual excitement is all but politically correct. It is known to thrive on power plays, role reversals, and undemocratic acts.” 

Religious dogma, rationality and our addiction to technology devalue the body as a sanctuary for self-revelation, pleasure, and sensual connection with one another. Eroticism is relegated to the collective Shadow. We tame and shame our bodies, terrorise ourselves with thoughts that mostly begin with “Not enough…”Aphrodites Mirror

Writes Elizabeth Gilbert—we are not some early Dell Computer Operating System, here to be de-bugged. We are not some new product for sale, here to be perfected. The goal is not to become an immaculate golden orb. The goal is to return to a place of kindness, where you can be gentle with yourself and others, no matter what arises. This requires, I think, a friendly sort of loving humour about who you are and who we all are.

Esther Perel describes Venus in Aries eloquently and imaginatively—the lust for adventure and the crossing of boundaries, are often interpreted as fears of commitment and infantile fantasies. In the conflict between the drabness of the familiar and the excitement of the unknown our therapeutic culture has often seen the solution in the renouncing of these fantasies. Rationality must prevail. Fantasies are perceived as clouding reality, the idealization of romance as immature love, and we tend to encourage our patients to really know their partner. Marcel Proust the wonderful writer of the subtleties of romance, warns us that sometimes it is better not to be too familiar with our partner, for certain kinds of knowledge can reduce our interest in them and are in fact counter-erotic. Eroticism, which calls for the celebration of ritual and imagination, the infinite fascination with the hidden, the mysterious and the suggestive for no other reason than pleasure does not have a place in this objectivist view of life.red hot

Scientists in the field of neurocardiology are only just beginning to acknowledge what the mystics and lovers have known for eons. The intricate network of nerves, neurotransmitters, proteins, and cells in our heart act independently. Our hearts remember, intuit, learn and know in advance what is going on in the world around us. We must feel wArgentina_tango-dancers-ssresized-616x447orthy to feel desirable. We must love ourselves fully and deeply and intimately to generously love another.

So come away from the hard harshness of an unfeeling digital world. Walk away from the mirror. Darling, you look wonderful tonight.

 

Eric Clapton—Wonderful Tonight

0
1
dancing-girls

Can’t Pretend

pretend-6As this year draws to an end, there are many of us who feel as powerless as a serfs in a feudal kingdom. Mother Earth is ravaged and bleeding. Her climate is changing. Democracy is hollow talk and the strutting Emperor wears no clothes. We can believe that we are helpless, hopeless, hand all our power to forces and systems outside ourselves, or we can harness our courage, step out of the box.    We can send love not hate to those in the brazen Towers of power.

Real presence is what’s needed at this time in our collective evolution. The Jupiter/Pluto square accentuates those areas in our lives were we  still cling to fixed and dogmatic beliefs, where our righteous “truths” merely mimic the righteous “truths” of someone else (November 2016, April and July 2017) . We may have to to be counter-intuitive: the “little boxes made of ticky tacky that all look just the same” may not be comfortable any longer.  In her superbly moving tribute to Leonard Cohen, Maria Popova quotes him saying, “Most of us from the middle-class, we have a kind of old, 19th-century idea of what democracy is, which is, more or less, to over-simplify it, that the masses are going to love Shakespeare and Beethoven. That’s more or less our idea of what democracy is. But that ain’t it. It’s going to come up in unexpected ways from the stuff that we think [is] junk: the people we think are junk, the ideas we think are junk, the television we think is junk.”

pretend-7

Western culture celebrates the individual, the original. Yet the tribal mind craves conformity. Now as we face a regressive pull into the undertow of polarisation and fascism we must dare to think out of the box.  Venus in pragmatic Capricorn sparkles against the blushing breast of the western skyline this month. Her consort, Mars moves through Aquarius, a sign associated with detachment, logic, ideals and fairness. What these two planets symbolise are our inner values and our drive to be real in the most private, deeply personal places in our lives. Being real might mean leaving a relationship, a guru, or a work situation that tames or amputates our joy. For some it might mean questioning the value of submitting to a spiritual tradition that breaks the ego of the body. For some it’s reconnecting to that deep well of our creative life, surrendering to our authentic selves with a sense of ease and belonging. For us all it means remembering that for all our apparent differences, our human hearts look just the same.57a0eebb2a00002e004f7e56

Stepping out of our little boxes, becoming real, takes a life time and it certainly requires valour. May Sarton writes, in her beautiful poem, Now I Become Myself, “it’s taken time, many years and places; I have been dissolved and shaken, worn other people’s faces…”

In Margery Williams’ beautiful story, The Velveteen Rabbit, Skin Horse describes the long and often painful process of becoming Real:

 “Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY Loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?”  asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,”  said the Skin Horse,  for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”pretend-3

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit? ”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,”  said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Most of us define our identity, our authentic selves by the beliefs and opinions of others. Until we can’t pretend any longer. Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the book that inspired us all to Eat, Pray, Love, writes, “Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real. In that space of stark and utter realness, I was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya. And I have no more time for denying that truth.”

f84ef897-eaa4-4933-a0dc-8f3cb8c80eacThe spirit of our times is the spirit of our collective thoughts and intentions. Our private thoughts mingle with the private thoughts of myriad human beings and affect the unwavering advance of world events. The immeasurable power of our blessings and prayers directed towards a situation or an outcome can transform people and circumstances if animated with Love.

Writes Elizabeth Gilbert, “at such times, I can always steady my life once more by returning to my soul. I ask it, “And what is it that you want, dear one?”little-girl-on-beach

The answer is always the same: “More wonder, please.” 

Tom Odell – Can’t Pretend

Little Boxes words and music by Malvina Reynolds 1962

 

3
1

Whisper a prayer to the moon

Our creativity is the full expression of Who we are. It unfurls, like the rainbow-coloured tail of a kite on a windy day. It arcs through the clear blue skies of our imagination. It soars to distant galaxies. It whispers a prayer to the Moon.

Yet so many of us give up on ourselves so easily. Our inner critic curls her lips and whispers, “what a stupid idea” when we believe six impossible things before breakfast. As we hop-skip along the stanzas of a poem and turn cartwheels across the notes of a melody, we stop, suddenly, foolish.  Then she says a little more sternly, “and just who do you think you are?” Awkward. Self-conscious, we judge and condemn ourselves to a life behind the bars of our meticulously constructed prison cells. Perhaps we blame the gaoler husband. Perhaps it is the ailing parent, the needy child, the punishing work schedule that keeps us securely padlocked, safe from our spontaneity, our joy. Pablo Picasso once said that “Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”  Jung spoke of the “Divine Child” archetype, “the child is that which brings the light into the darkness and carries the light before it.”  Emmet Fox mentioned “The Wonder Child” – the true self, the Child that lives within each one of us that beckons us to spiritual regeneration. The Wonder Child archetype represents our soul’s yearning for trans-formation.  It manifests as the sense of wonder, the awe that we feel when we look upon something greater than ourselves. The magic of believing, with unwavering certainty that miracles do happen. That everything will be alright in the end. It manifests in our delight as we follow a silvery snail trail that meanders across a dewy lawn to the fairy toadstools at the bottom of the garden; when we gaze in awe at the Milky Way. For so many of us The Wonder Child is an infant in exile, banished from our adult lives. Says Marion Woodman “As long as we are determined to move at our swift, logical pace, our child remains hidden. The soul-bird put away in a dark box in childhood needs time, needs silence to learn to trust again.”  In the clatter of our over-scheduled lives, we fear our little soul-bird’s joyful song; we shy from the exuberance of our scarlet creativity.

The 17th century heralded a new evolutionary blooming on the World Tree. In the West, the Age of Reason – the Age of Rationalism – ushered in a philosophy that snuffed out the belief in miracles and wonder; relegated the “unseen” and the “mysterious” to the slag heap. The “irrational” was feared, trivialised, disowned. Science became the new religion. For almost 500 years, The Wonder Child lived and played with  musicians, performers, poets, and painters. He lived in myths and fairy tales – the hero, the baby in the manager, The Little Prince. Collectively, we internalised the concept of the suffering artist. The creative person who carried the success and the failure of his or her own endeavours utterly alone. This heavy burden  crushed the creative life force from those who embody The Muse.  Keats, Byron, Plath, Jonker, Joplin, Winehouse … crumpled wings, broken bodies piled high upon the funeral pyre of creative genius.

Is this a symptom of the hubris that lifts us on feather and wax wings that melt as we fly too close to the Sun? Do we carry the Collective Wonder Child on our shoulders, stagger under the weight of our divine burden? Must we, like the wretched Eve, be condemned by a misogynistic psychopath god who proclaims spitefully, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.” Must we perish as we give birth to our creative progeny?

Carl Rogers and a team of psychologists made a study of the dynamics of creativity. The consensus would certainly not surprise a pre-schooler: the necessary ingredients were playfulness, spontaneity, the ability to be present, to live in the now, the ability to focus, a sense of wonder and the capacity to be one’s own “locus” of evaluation – to delight in what you have made. A tough call for the fragile psyche to straddle the magical, imaginal realm and the insatiable demands of a material world where we are only as good as our last offering on the altar of creativity. We speak of creative blocks. Resting actors. We silence the baying voices in our own heads with narcotics, alcohol. We open the door of the gas oven. To be playful, spontaneous, present, focused. To delight in what we have produced. A tough call when the rent is due and we must chop wood carry water. Not always easy when our teenager stays out all night drinking, when our father is ailing. Not always easy when we move through the lunar cycles of our relationships.

The ancient Greeks had Nine Muses, each one a chthonic divinity who bestowed in-spiration upon mere mortals – poetry, art, music, astronomy, and writing. The ancient Romans called upon The Genius. Author Elizabeth Gilbert proposes that we do not have to internalise the Muse. We do not have to live anxious, tortured lives. We do not need to self-destruct as we race after our Wonder Child.  If, like the Greeks and Romans, we allow the anthropomorphic goddesses to bring us inspiration– from afar – we can remain mortals, not custodians, not neurotic wanna-be gods or goddesses. Not Wonder Children – 24-7.

To restore the Natural Order, these magical divinities must remain in their sacred groves. They must dwell at the crystal clear springs of prophecy. They must inhabit the walls of our work places. They may inspire us from afar. All we must do is show up when they call.

Says Elizabeth Gilbert, “Just do your job. Do your dance. If you glimpse some kind of wonderment just for a few moments… ‘Ole!’ to you, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.”

Art by Kay Nielson. Out flew the Moon.

Eleanor McEvoy – Whisper a Prayer to the Moon.

My darling, my darling

So crazy, so charming

It’s just that it happened too soon

But I send you my wishes

My hugs and my kisses

And whisper a prayer to the moon

 

 

4
0

Wishin and Hopin

So often our approach to Love reflects the narcissism of our attention deficit times. We yearn to meet our soul mate, “The One” who will instantly ease our ache for intimacy, breathe hotly on the dim embers of our libido. We search for our soul mate who will share our interests, hear us, hold us, make us feel alive, young, bright  and beautiful again. We encounter our soul mates in the first rush and blissful fusion of romantic love. That feeling that we have met before, that we are meant for each other. We return, innocent again, to The Garden of Unlimited Possibilty. A soul mate is defined as a person for whom one has a deep affinity, especially a lover, wife, husband – The World English Dictionary. This deep affinity awakens us from our slumber when we  fall in love. When the shaken-not-stirred heady cocktail of chemicals bursts like champagne bubbles in our brains as we delight in the beauty of The Other; recognise the Divinity in ourselves. We  float weightlessly, deliciously, in the amniotic warmth of our Return.

As a foundation for a lasting relationship, the drunken intoxication of meeting a soul mate is a Grace-filled initiation into the art of Love. And yet those of us who have endured times of travail on the long and often rough road of a committed relationship, or been shipwrecked on the inhospitable shores of loss after a brief ill-fated love affair, may wonder how this bliss of affinity  is possible? In even the most compatible of couplings, there surely will be moments when a cloud of discord darkens domestic bliss?  Barbie and Ken struggled to get through the brambles in their on-off romantic relationship –  Mattel announcing in a news release that they had split up. Barbie’s broken heart healed once more when she become “friendly” with the Australian surfer, Blaine – never trust a woman with torpedo boobs and 3m femurs!  The search for our soul mate is so often a fruitless quest for some ideal, some  fantastic object of transcendence. A Big Ask, when most of us are little children in adult bodies.

If the relationship is to emerge from the chrysalis, there will be drops of blood. We will be required to strain and struggle from the warm, creative cocoon of romance in order to stretch and grow our wings, or they will remain forever crumpled. And when we fly free, as we must,  we will collide with situations and behaviours that test our tenacity, bring us face to face with disowned parts of ourselves – and our lover.

The Imago model evangelises the concept that our soul mates are our wound mates. Says the high priest of this school of thought, Harville Hendrix, “We always marry someone for the purpose of finishing our childhood.”  So when we are ready for adult commitment, more often than not, our unconscious mind selects someone who has positive and negative traits similar to those of our parents in order to have another chance to heal ourselves. All too often, though, we end up reliving the patterns that hurt us in the first place and stay stuck in a furrow of frustration, expressing our pain through criticism and angry words. Relationship guru, John Gottman believes that it is not conflict itself that lies at the root of relationship problems, but how it is handled. “Venting anger constructively can actually do wonders to clear the air and get a relationship back in balance,” he admonishes. But when what Gottman calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” – criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling – come crashing through our bedroom door and remain there, this is when the real work of repair and behaviour change begins.  Or we  can choose to descend into the sulphurous hell of an invisible divorce, where we live disconnected, like marionettes, going through the motions of marriage, “for the sake of the children”. And  some of us hurt so badly, we dismember our love in the gruesome carnage of divorce.

Energy follows attention. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” Albert Einstein said, yet we stay in the battle zone, guns blazing. When our needs aren’t met, we cry, sulk, have tantrums, withdraw – or walk away in the darkness of the Nigredo before the alchemy has worked its magic. Every time you “invest” in the negative, you are honing your ability to detect faults. Your energy amplifies the annoying and the fragile, and you create the conditions that allow your problems to grow like weeds in an unkempt field. Our spiritual work is in the templum of our relationships. “Only in Relationship can you know yourself, not in abstraction and certainly not in isolation. The movement of behaviour is the sure guide to yourself. It’s the mirror of your consciousness; this mirror will reveal its content, the images, the attachments, the fears, the loneliness, the joy and sorrow. Poverty lies in running away from this, either in its sublimations or its identities,” says Krishnamurti.

And still we wish and hope. We cast wide our net online. We sign up for soul mate encounter groups. We think we have found The One, and embark on the perilous journey of commitment with meagre provisions, believing that with minimal effort, no change in our rigid behaviours, things will organically grow and we will live happily ever after. Relationships are like gardens. They require tending and frequent pruning to encourage new growth and fragrant flowers.  Often it is in conflict and despair that the real growth happens.  Rumi says, “When the grapes turn to wine, they long for the ability to change. When stars wheel around the North Pole, they are longing for our growing consciousness.”

Elizabeth Gilbert says “People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.”  This may be Ms Gilbert’s painful experience, but for some, a soul mate is the person who stays long enough to allow us to feel safe. Stays long enough to heal our hearts so that they can blossom and breathe intimacy.  It is with the soul mate that holds our hand as we journey over the rocks, knowing not all roads are smoothly paved, that we come to know what Love is.

Says Melody Beattie, “Accept each part of the journey as it comes. Let each stretch of your path be what it needs to be … slow down a bit if you need to, but don’t stop.”

Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’
Plannin’ and dreamin’ each night of his charms
That won’t get you into his arms…
Dusty Springfield 1964

Barbie and Ken

Artwork: Waiting, by Donato Giancola

 

 

0
0