The truism goes, you have to love your self before you can truly love another. Like most truisms that sound too simple to be true but have the gravity to change your life, this one hit home when I’d given the love I should’ve been giving to my self to another and wound up empty & unloved. I worked this one, mantra-like, throughout most of my twenties and thirties.
As I age, relationship truisms develop in subtlety. For instance, the idea that before we can be a “We” there must be an “I” – a Self. This is very different from loving your self, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, becoming a confident person with goals and vision for her life. What I’m talking about is being deeply and utterly Self- centered -and being okay with that. I mean really okay with it. In a way that (most) men are born and raised knowing but (many) women aren’t. After all, if we were lucky enough to have escaped being mistaken for a parent’s appendage in childhood, society will socialize us out of putting our Self first.
He may not appreciate me telling you this, but marriage to my partner has taught me oodles about the importance of becoming more Self-centered. After all, I married a Leo. My Leo is awesome at putting himself first. He is most excellent at taking care of his own needs, whether at the dinner table talking about his day, or having a “John Night” every Wednesday night, he will make sure his social and physical needs are met. At one point in our marriage, the point right before I realized I was putting he and his Lion’s Pride’s needs before my own, I became deeply unhappy. Angry. I would voice my anger, despair, and yet nothing would change. In fact, the more I insisted on my unhappiness, the more it reinforced his own insistence that he was perfectly happy and that my problem was my own. He couldn’t understand my frustration, he said. Why would he? I was meeting his needs; he was meeting his needs. For him, everything was working out brilliantly. As for me, I didn’t know how to put myself first. I wasn’t brought up that way. I’ve got Libra Rising and a Cancer Sun, dubiously conjunct the South Node: I was brought up to compromise myself, to nurture others and sacrifice my own needs for them. I am still training myself that it’s okay to have a Self.
I remember when I realized the problems in my marriage didn’t stem from his selfishness but from my lack of Self. That was a moment I started viewing my partner as a teacher. At my a-ha moment, “John is great at being selfish, at doing exactly what I need to learn to do,” John ceased to be my enemy- the person who always got what he wanted, and John became my model teacher, the person who always got what he wanted. I realized I coveted the way he always got what he wanted, from me, from life. I admired his easygoing assumption that other people wanted to make him happy, and that when they didn’t value him he could let them know and set them straight. Of course living with your “teacher”, the person who is helping you learn one of your biggest life lessons, is a double-edged sword. He is so good at consistently reinforcing the fact that I need to meet his needs and put them first, I have to stay on my toes. I’ve had to cut him some slack. When his assumptions anger me, as they will, I remind myself: He is a privileged white man, and he is a Leo. I am sure he is learning what he needs to learn from me, too, but back and forth in our relationship, in different permutations and forms and in multiple ways, I get to experience firsthand that: One can have one’s needs, wants and desires met, but never at the expense of another. Never at the expense of our Self.
Here’s the thing: I am still married to the man I love. Even though I think we experienced a big crisis (of course it was small to him, because you see, nothing bothered him, being as madly in love with me as the day we first met), I did a lot of personal work, and in the end I became stronger. I began honouring my Self like I’d never done before. Even though I blamed him at first, the healing process actually required very little from him (though he has been amazingly receptive about it all, listening, taking instruction and being open to doing what it takes to make me happy) because it was mostly about me and my relationship to my Self. I pondered couples counseling for awhile (moot, if you don’t have a Self). Marriage takes two people, each with a whole Self. The idea of fixing another person never appealed to me, anyhow. Maybe we can each do much more for our ailing partnerships by working on our own wounds and core issues.
Aries, and Mars, it’s ruling planet, hold the archetypes of selfhood. Mars and Aries gives us both the anger at being trespassed, and the courage to draw a boundary and stand up for our Self. We each have needs, wants, thoughts and desires that deserve honoring – no matter how inconvenient this is to others, and whether they like what we say, feel, want, or not. Are you feeling fired up at this New Moon? Rightly so. It’s a season of “me first”. In some area of our life, it’s time to courageously claim our voice, anger, right to exist. No patience for the meek, with Mars/Aries you are either the hunter or the prey. Only the strong survive.
We rarely think of a relationship as a battleground for Self-hood, but for many women living in a patriarchy, even if we do not consciously recognise it, it’s what marriage becomes. Through love and adversity, my marriage has made me stronger. It has also forever shaped the way I see gender roles. I have learned that when I Self-diminish, put my Self down, refrain from using my authentic voice, from asking for what I want, desire and need, it is not because I want to, but because as a woman I have been taught, reinforced by culture and sometimes by my partner, to do this. Aries New Moon points to new ground to break, victories to be won. Where does this new moon fall in your chart? This is where you are ready to experience a victory. This lunation falls in my seventh house of marriage and mutual, democratic partnerships, and this is where I am celebrating my biggest Aries victory, to date: Having a substantial Self.