TrueHeartWork | Divorce
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Divorce Tag

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How Long Will You Love Me?

cake-2082939__480Today we casually or consciously un-couple. Today our friends have benefits and Tinder is our one-stop 24-7, pocket-sized convenience store for regret-free hook-ups with just one swipe. Ours is a Supernova Consumer Culture where our Perfectmatch.com relationships have short sell-by dates.

Over the past 60 years, nothing and everything has changed. We live in what Marshall McLuhan prophetically called “a global village”. Social and cultural forces have intruded into our intimate relationships. Antibiotics and contraception which have liberated sex from its reproductive function. Women have claimed hard won political power, kudos to the Womens’ Movement. The Gay Movement has made sexuality an issue of identity. Technology has changed the way we date and mate. Love takes on new meaning.

“If monogamy was one person for life, today monogamy is one person at a time,” says psychology’s Super Star, Baby Boomer Esther Perel. “We have left our villages. We have travelled to the cities. We are free, no longer bound by tribal strictures and rituals of continuity and belonging. Now we are more alone than ever. ”

Nothing is the way it used to be – or is it?kuala-lumpur-170985__340

In the astrology, the long outer planet transits define generations and each generation leaves a legacy for the next one. Sociologists and demographers appear to differ on the actual dates but a broad-brush stroke will give a general cultural theme, of course which applies to the self-absorbed, affluent West, not those living in the slums of Brazil or Nairobi. Pluto, like all the planets, is a celestial mirror to the interests, obsessions, and legacy of each generation born then.  Pluto takes between ten and twenty years to transit through each sign of the zodiac.  Pluto was in Cancer from 1913 to 1938 and it was this generation that endured the Great Depression, futility of two World Wars, the Holocaust. This generation experienced displacement, destruction, starvation and death.  They sought security, a place of belonging, they focused on home. They had white picket fences and somewhere over the rainbow they believed they could see the alluring glimmer of The American Dream.

rock-concertPluto’s transit through Leo between 1937-1958 produced the narcissistic “Me Generation” and as each new generation pushes against the ignorance and excesses of the previous one. The Divine Child (or spoilt brat) rebelled against his staid Cancerian Parents. This is the generation that has destroyed vast tracts of pristine forest and coastline to erect golf courses and holiday resorts or set off to “find themselves”. This is the generation of the hedonistic “Rock Star” and the individual who spends years lying on the therapist’s couch talking about his unhappy childhood. This is the generation obsessed with staying forever young. This is the generation that divorces because they deserve to be happy! Baby Boomer, and author of the bestselling, Something More, Sarah Ban Breathnach says it all: “Do I deserve to be happy? Damn right I do. Am I ever going to be unhappy again? Not if I can help it.” … now you can reshape, reclaim and recreate the world in our own image.”

baby boomers 1Divorce is The Boomers’ legacy. And even in mid and late life this star-dust golden generation makes it up as they go along.

Teacher and author, Caroline Myss proposes that beneath this sense of entitlement to happiness, this naiveté coupled with the Boomer’s intense interest in all things “spiritual” is a child-like notion that being “conscious” or “spiritual” will bring an end to all things “bad”.  And when things get bad we leave. American sociologist and sexologist and Boomer Pepper Schwartz writes that “Me Generation” Baby Boomers’ obsession with individual identity and creative self-expression makes us the most divorce-prone generation group.

For the ancient Greeks, happiness meant Virtue. For the Romans, it was Divine Favour. For the Christians, it was the after-life.

“It’s only within the past two hundred years that human beings have begun to think of happiness as not just an earthly possibility but also as an earthly entitlement, even an obligation, writes historian Darrin M. McMahon in Happiness: A History. 

Esther Perel describes how over the years she has observed a progression of three types of marriages: the traditional marriage which is family-centric. The romantic marriage which is couple-centric. The millennial marriage which is child-centric and HIP – High Investment Parenting. And yet, definitions, like statistics are fuzzy around the edges. Globalisation makes it possible to have a traditional marriage in New York, a romantic marriage in Pakistan and a millennial marriage in South Africa.

 As Boomers age, more than a third of Boomers (if you believe the stats) are single in the US. Manweddings 3y opt for a LAT arrangement – Living Alone Together – with partners they may despise at worse or tolerate at best.

And yet it’s generally known that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger has overseen a long-term study on adult development and come up with the hardly startling discovery that high conflict relationships are bad for our health. “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships in their 50s were the healthiest in their 80s. Good relationships protect our bodies and our brains.” Despite our most strenuous efforts to soften the edges of ageing and prolong our lives, there’s only time for Love.  In a letter to Clara Spaulding, 20 August 1886 Mark Twain (Pluto in Aries) wrote “ There isn’t time—so brief is life— for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”

Whether we’re Boomers or Gen X, Pluto in Virgo Group 1957-1972, Pluto in Libra 1971-1984, or Pluto in Scorpio 1983-1995, all our relationships, even those that involve brief genital stimulation, require us to grow from narcissistic children into adults. We choose to love. We choose to be happy. We choose to forgive. And if we are brave enough we un-couple with kindness and gratitude for all the milestones, all the tears and the laughter we shared together over the long years.

Inge (Ursula Werner) and Karl (Horst Westphal)

Like the genes in our body the astrological signs are indicators of the direction in which we may choose to travel this life time. We are a microcosm of a magnificent universal macrocosm. Our horoscope shows the exact position of the sun at the time of our birth and points the way, much like a celestial GPS to find out more about your own birth chart or experience  my next workshop, please Email: Ingrid@trueheartwork.com to find out more.

Video: How long will I love you – Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney & Ben Coleman

 

 

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Out of Reach

_72148568_9cec5944-2377-4fa5-97ed-deb0a0ca2518Like the shimmering wing of a dragonfly, a sliver of silver juts out of an ancient sea of sand.  It’s the wing of a DC 10 that casts a long shadow across the tawny sand of the Sahara. A delicate silhouette of an aircraft encircled by dark stones and 170 broken mirrors marks the place where the white hot fire of a bomb of terror melted the bodies of 170 men, women and children on September 19th, 1989. It’s where Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc and others have marked the place where the ones they love have died.

Guillaume was twenty-six years old when his father Jean-Henri boarded the UTA flight 772 in Brazzaville. The flight that never arrived in Paris. For Guillaume and so many others this monument etched across the shifting sands has been a quest for peace and for justice that has consumed eighteen years of his life. As the ghosts of grief haunted him, he lost his business and his marriage. But the memorial to his father and all the others that died then can be seen from Google Earth and from the aircraft that still fly over this vast sea of sand. And although the desert will irrevocably draw into its hot belly the debris of the plane and the 170 broken mirrors, his act of grieving has been given form. Though the pain of loss will be there, I suspect, for as long as he lives.

Closure has been assimilated into the common lexicon. Like the admonishment to “move on” after a devastating divorce or the loss of something we cherish like a precious pearl and keep enclosed in the chambers of our heart. Closure means to bring something to an end. A conclusion. Like lowering a coffin into a grave and shovelling lumps of soil on top. Closure is often accompanied by a gaggle of shoulds and ought-tos that suggest that closure is something we can order like a new app on our iPhone. Closure implies that grief has a time frame, a sell by date.  And that in our grieving, one size fits all.

imagesCA334DAJYet despite our best efforts and our bright smiles, we may find that we can’t fix grief or sew the frayed ends of grief together neatly. We can’t superglue the jagged cracks in our hearts. Grief seeps under the door at anniversaries. And stays over the holidays like an uninvited guest. It makes itself at home when we hear a certain melody or smell a scent that reminds us with a sudden sharp tear at the sutures of time, that our hearts are tattooed. Our loss is indelible. The one we love is out of reach, disincarnate. The only link we have is the silver cord that tugs at our heart. A reminder of what we had, what we lost. The temptation to return to the place of suffering is a siren call, for the rocks are jagged and the waves engulf us and suck us back with the undertow. So we straighten our spines stoically. Or invite Grief in like an old friend to brings us news of the one we love.

Pierre Francois Ikias’s 14-year-old brother Fleury le Prince was on that fated flight. “You wouldn’t have thought that 18 years on, the shock would have been quite so palpable – but when you see the destruction, the pieces of aeroplane scattered around, the seats, the remains of people’s luggage – the emotion grabs you by the throat. Unfortunately my brother’s body was never found, so this journey was my way of grieving. While we were there, one of the drivers of the convoy found a human skull, which we buried on site. For me it really was like saying goodbye and burying my brother.”imagesCAGAMZXV

Says psychologist Stephen Grosz in his book, The Examined Life, “I’ve long thought that Kubler Ross was wrong. The “psychological stages” of dying and grieving are wholly different. For the person who dies there is an end, but this is not so for the person who grieves. The person who mourns goes on living and for as long as he lives there is always the possibility of feeling grief.”

Perhaps part of our experience on this earth is to experience a multitude of emotions. In the turbulence of confusion and the broken shards of loss, the human heart opens into its nobility. This is the potency of the soul’s response to Love.

And yet, for some the only way to lance the boil of grief is to plot our revenge.  To shrink and harden our hating hearts. To get back at those who have harmed us, an eye for an eye. Blindly we stand in the harsh glare of our loss. In our pain we spin the wheel of war, terrorism, holocaust and suffer still.  Revenge is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die, writes novelist Anne Lamott.  It’s a poison that prolongs our agony. Embalms  our grieving. There is no closure in revenge. Peace remains elusive, out of reach.

458015_386439001400355_1291352053_oSays Stephen Grosz, “We want to believe that the clairvoyant can bring our dead back in to the world of the living. Closure is just as elusive – it is the false hope that we can deaden our living grief.”

So in grieving perhaps there is no closure. No great literature, art, or music would exist if it were not for grief and suffering and the transcendent Grace of Love. As we bargain, beg, rage and rail against the brutal inevitability of endings, our wails become poetry and sweet music. The salt from our tears softens our hearts. In our grieving we build a monument to Love.

Gabrielle’s beautiful rendition of Out of Reach

Read the full story about this memorial that can be seen from space.

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Just show me how to love you

Sex is so often the first casualty on the battlefield of a committed relationship. Celibate couples live side by side, enslaved by their fear, their anger, and their hurt. Some slight, a rejection, a misunderstanding, a mistake in the past sentences them both to a marriage that is contains the pain of their disconnection devoid of touch, of carnal pleasure. Marriage is an initiation into the trials and tribulations of true intimacy. Alchemy within a marriage may require a period of mortification – those dark times, those catastrophic experiences that leave us stumbling through a nuclear wasteland, soul naked. Mortification means “making dead” and it may require a ritual slaying of some aspect of our personality where we cling white knuckled to our fears, our need to control, prescribe, to be “right” and oh-so-perfect. Many psychological models focus on the trauma and pain of being human. We talk of our “childhood wounding” and our “fear of abandonment”, seldom the triumph and the resilience of the human spirit, the ability to change, to grow new synapses in the brain. We focus on what is wrong with our relationships, our sex lives, seldom celebrating what is so damn deliciously good. We go round in circles. Blaming, shaming, subduing our soul’s urge to stretch and grow through the gridlock. And when the pain of being relentlessly honest with oneself gets too great, our knee jerk response is to separate, divorce. To tear our lives, our families asunder.
Like our inevitable death and the certainty of taxes, sex is a perennial part of this human experience. Collectively we are still removed from the deeper mysteries of alchemy to fully comprehend the subtle Mystery of human sexuality. We die many times in one lifetime. Relationships end, children move far away from home. A health crisis brings the curtain down on life as we know it. With every death there is a rebirth, as one form dies, and our hearts break open, our wounds are cleansed and  purified by salty tears. Death, like sexual intimacy demands an exchange – a coin to pay Kharon to ferry us across the river into the Underworld.  Most of us can only comprehend what we can literally see and touch. The subtle dissolution of death and la petite morte of orgasm are still distant frontiers, explored by very few who can contain these enormous energies within the slow vibration of our dense corporal form.

With Saturn’s ingress into Scorpio from October 6th until December 2014, we may experience, collectively and personally, the profoundly destructive, healing, regenerative energy of The Serpent. This is a time of initiation into an often painful stretching of the heart and the imagination. This is a time of re-visioning our relationship with life, death and intimacy in our sexual experiences, and in the psychic space that lies in between us in all our relationships. We must recognise that out of each apparent accident, crisis, obstacle, there is something deeper to be explored.

Saturn’s placement in our birth chart symbolises the areas in our life where we feel thwarted, inadequate, fearful, crippled. Where we must endure painful circumstances. Where we must push against obstacles and grow through self-awareness into our completeness. Saturn’s sojourn in the sign of Scorpio may excavate our buried loneliness, our fear of intimacy, our guilt, our terror of death, our obstinate resistance to change the thoughts that create our external “reality”. In Scorpio, we re-enter the cave where Hekate dwells. It is within the hallowed temple of intimate relationship that we must confront our self-deception and dredge the murky swamp of our own unconscious fears, our dark longings. Here we must push against the barriers of our self-isolation, must renounce our unhappy martyrdom. We must go down into the obsidian darkness of the labyrinth and engage fully with the silent inner experience. The old excuses just will not work any longer; the glib lies, the seductive stories we tell ourselves to sedate the Wise Woman and Man within us all.

The only person we can change is ourselves. We are responsible for our own sexuality, our own pleasure, our own joy as we open our hearts to love. Porn exults sex with our genitals. Intimate relationships require sex with our hearts, connection with our minds and the wet succulence of our bodies. Saturn in Scorpio’s wisdom is that in authentic union with the other we will experience the intense transformation and the renewal we crave if we excavate the deep knowledge from the gold mine of the unconscious. We are our own Magician. We already have the unction for our own healing.

Says sex therapist David Schnarch: “people have difficulty with intimacy because they’re supposed to. It’s not something to be solved and avoided. Problems with sex and intimacy are important to go through because this process changes us. These are the drive wheels and grind stones of intimate relationships. The solution isn’t going back to the passion of early relationships because that’s sex between strangers; it’s about going forward to new passion and intimacy as adults.”

Proust once said, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

So today, let us with new eyes gaze with gratitude and acceptance at what we have manifested for our lives. Let us open our hearts and celebrate what is right in our relationships. Let us give thanks for the enormous courage of that special soul who has chosen us for his or her soul mate. Then just show him how to love you.

Art by Gerda Wegener – Lovers.
Sarah Brightman and Jose Cura Just Show Me How To Love You.

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Cannon Ball

Sometimes it is a slight tremor that cleaves a reservoir of ancient sorrow.

A rebuff by a friend or family member. An email, a text, you thought you had deleted, that besieges you, ravaging your heart. Sometimes it takes a cannon ball to crash through the structures of our carefully constructed lives: a trauma in the shape of death, divorce, or terminal illness…

This week, grief came to call, throwing a dark shroud over the landscape of my life. The death of my beloved, chocolate-coloured Burmese released a deluge of sorrow, plaintive echoes of an unbounded lamentation.

Each one of us has a unique journey. A timeline marked by graves of grief, some neglected, some still tended daily or on certain occasions. For some, letting go, moving on, comes easily. Others flee from the ravenous jaws of grief, buffered by a smokescreen of a smiling face, or the distraction of a full schedule.

Times of sorrow are not events, but transitional processes that unfold slowly.  These are sacred times in our life journeys. We are obliged to review, to reminisce. To embrace the lacerating pain, and make up a story that makes sense of it all, for us. It is at times of mourning that we must forgo the busyness, the anti-depressants, the avoidance and embrace the weight of silence that descends in the wake of loss. It is at these times we must fully experience the darkness, contemplate the nothingness, without trying to replace or substitute. Our inner children require nurture (not a spa-day of pampering), our bodies require rest, nourishment, a withdrawal of the senses. Our souls require silence, so that grieving can become sacred, rituals relevant.

Grief can be deeply unsettling, disturbing, and uncomfortable for others to witness. So often, I find myself stumbling over words, mumbling platitudes, sending my “deepest sympathies”. Shakespeare knew that grief requires framing: “Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak, whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bides it break.” And physician and pathologist, Sir Henry Maudsley wrote at the dawn of the twentieth century “sorrows which find no vent in tears may soon make other organs weep.”

Kahlil Gibran observed “Tears and laughter are inseparable. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain…. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced…

We cry when we are joyful, and when we are overwhelmed by grief. Emotional tears differ from the slicing-of-onions tears. They contain hormones and endorphins which are a moist balm to the searing pain. Tears herald the depth of feelings, reveal relics of unresolved emotions. But only words can identify what lies buried in the heart.

In life, there are those people and animals we deeply love, those we meet in body and mind, a few very precious souls who know our souls. They may be born into homes, cities, countries, so far away from our original starting points. Through our choices, and the complex interwoven chainmail of synchronistic events, our journeys converge; mingle, often for just one brief tremulous moment. Tempus fugit … time flees. With each passing milestone, an anniversary of a death, or a birth or something new, the sweet remembrance of a time tinted now with nostalgia, we become aware of the transience of this life and the Mystery of it all. Sorrow can be a gestation period, long cold waiting in the dank bunker of nothingness… The bittersweet memories, “little bit of your taste in my mouth…” the faint perfume of sadness, the remembrance of deep sense of aloneness that pervades our lives cyclically in a heap of broken images. The inconstant ebb and flow of feelings. The fallow periods of sorrow that herald the bright bud of hope. We may appear less efficient in the world of doingness, and feel as though we are falling apart. We are. Everything will be a mess, and we are required to laboriously re-build from new foundations.

Sorrow, melancholy, depression, like the clouds that scud across moonlit skies to obscure the pure luminescence of the lunar face, are ephemeral, always cyclical. Like the ocean, they ebb and flow, to flood our shores with boundless energy and inspiration, or recede like the tide, revealing shards of broken shells and glistening pebbles etched in the wet sand.

Do we really ever get over ourselves? Should we even try?

“I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; A stage where every man must play a part, And mine is a sad one” the bard said.  Some walk lightly, some dance and sing along the way, others have a more sombre journey. A friend of mine shared that she had discovered a pair of pearl earrings in a velvet lined box. She had worn them only once. On her wedding day, a dewy-eyed bride, dressed in white. For her, these lustrous orbs from the watery deep enclose two tear drops of a frozen memory, the chronicle of a sacred day. She described how she had enfolded the cool silky smoothness in her hand, revisiting that time in her nascent life, to feel once more  the featherlike nudge of innocence, and the bittersweet lamentation of enormous loss.

Many of us may cope by framing a new narrative for the lost dreams and disappointments  that lie in wait like sharp stones on our path.  Nelson Mandela told a friend of mine who had a private luncheon with this iconic figure of the joy he experienced in his incarceration when he and the other prisoners would sing together as they worked crushing rock in the quarry, day after day in the searing sun and scalding wind. Many public figures have a narrative of their lives which fits their public persona. Often their birth charts may suggest otherwise. Nearly all of us have misty water-coloured memories of the way we were … our version of a prism of an event, faded by time, embellished by the re-telling.

When we are ready, we re-frame the story in the picture gallery of our life… or float like a cannon ball… until we understand why we are sinking… Damien Rice

THE TINY BOAT

God bless this tiny little boat
And me who travels in it
It stays afloat for years and years
And sinks within a minute.

And so the soul in which we sail
Unknown by years of thinking,
Is deeply felt and understood
The minute that it’s sinking.
Michael Leunig (1945- )

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No More I Love Yous

Love never dies when soul meets soul. Our souls never stop loving the significant people who appear as actors in the various scenes in the play of our lives. Because once we ignite the flame of love, no matter how briefly, or how fiercely, devastatingly, that flame burns and chars, Love endures, long after we part, long after we die.

I met my former husband for lunch yesterday. He appeared taller, younger, and happier than I have seen him in  years. “She’s the One,” he said, eyes sparkling. “I’m going to ask her to marry me.” Still sprinkled with the glitter of his happiness, I left this man I had lived with for 26 years, my heart a – bloom with flowers of joy for him, for her. There are never No More I Love Yous. The container of marriage may fracture and break under the avalanche of an affair, a cot death, an intrusive in-law. Love affairs are extinguished not with a bang but a whimper, realtionships stagnate as the current of passion dwindles to a trickle. Even in the No More I love Yous, are small seeds of renewal.  There are really no “lessons” to be learnt so we do not make the same “mistake “again.  Our marriages are the holy sanctums for the in-breath and out-breath, the cycles, and twists, of our soul. From the moment we say our wedding vows, through all the in the years we may spend grinding off each others’ rough edges, even in the heartbreak and despair of the endings, are our soul’s rites of passage; our circling Home.

A divorce can be a sacred act of renewal, if we transcend the power plays, the anger,  discard the role of Victim.  Love can be transformed into a caring friendship if we are willing to step into Gratitude for all the memories, and experiences of our past, that have made us who we are today. When we are able to look into the eyes of our former tormentor-husband, wife, lover, mother, father, friend – and feel the lotus flower of compassion blossom in our heart, then we will know our own Wholeness. The ancient Greeks knew that Love wears interchangeable costumes: Agape meant the deepest sense of true love, that sense of contentment and mellowness, the holding of another in the highest regard. Eros was understood as  passionate love, sensual desire, and intimate love, which did not have to be sexual – it could be the power of beholding something beautiful within that person. Philia was the love of friendship we feel in community and family. So what is this thing, called Love? Even after death, divorce, frozen years of separation, the sacred vows reverberate. We may find, after the atomic fallout, the love we never dared admit, even to ourselves, is there still. We find a wedding photograph, a piece of jewellery, a gift given in the innocence of that love that carries a fragrance of sweet memory. There is remains a fragment of something noble and pure in the the vows we made all those years ago.

These days when I go to weddings, what I celebrate is the Hope that comes, an invited guest, to the bridal table. The noble belief in a love that will endure as the dark storm clouds gather on the horizon. First marriages are sprinkled with Hope and Great Expectations that we believe no man will tear asunder. Second and third marriages are more sober affairs. Jean Kerry said wryly, “being divorced is like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and to the left.” We are not always wise in the choices we make. We do not always listen to our inner guidance. But in our fumbling, in our folly, in our delusions, will always be the seed of great passion and enduring love.

Says Marion  Woodman,  “real love happens when soul in the body meets soul in the body. Not in that disembodied world of spirit where we want to be perfect, but in life, where we’re changing the diapers of the one we love who is dying, swabbing the lips, doing things we never thought we could do. Stripped of all pride, of everything unreal, we have no false modesty. Where soul meets soul that is Love.”

How can there ever be No More I Love Yous when Love never dies. It simply changes form.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5z7R-5Znoc

 

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