love you to death

A few of my friends are in newly committed relationships. After the heady high of romance, things can get rocky. From listening to their stories, I’m reminded of the challenges a relationship faces during that precarious and magnificent time when two people decide to merge hearts & lives.

John and I very quickly decided we couldn’t live without each other; time was made irrelevant by the fact that we had found our other half. There is no more glorious feeling than finally finding the one you love. Cue: angel wings and the horns of heaven. So why then was the first year or two of our relationship so fraught with dramatic fights, fears and cry-fests (mostly mine)?

During those first years of commitment we seemed to bring out one another’s worst fears. He: that no woman would want to commit to a man who already had three children. He had proof of this, as a staggeringly high number of single women refused to give him, a single father, a chance. He also had other, more personal fears I won’t name here, irrational fears whose origins still bewilder me today.

As for me, I ping-ponged back and forth between care-taking his fears and verily actualizing my worst nightmare. Every fight was another opportunity for him to abandon me, for me to abandon me. Every fight inspired an ancient anxiety in me, the feeling I needed to flee, to save myself from being hurt. I was so deeply afraid that every argument meant our relationship was over, and so defiant in my self-protective instinct to save myself before it happened, this virtually guaranteed a fight would end up leading to that deep dark place in myself. My yo-yo behaviour could cause me to walk away, or plea in tears for his understanding. Sometimes I would go cold as ice while internally hugging my fragile self  (held together by band-aids, paper clips, chewing gum at this point) so tightly that I would come close to hyperventilation –a nod to the way I used to hold my breath as a child when my parents would fight. Where was the self-aware, courageous, open-hearted woman he fell in love with? I was becoming a hot mess.

It was horrible and glorious at once, to be so in so much love and so much hurt. Both of us knew we were one another’s soul mates, so why was this happening?  It was as if… our magnificent joining brought out our very best and our very worst. It was as if… we finally found the lock to the key that neither of us could unlock alone. When love really opens us up, everything opens up. The blood, the guts and the wounding.  There was no more hiding the fact that somewhere deep inside we each felt deeply unworthy, unlovable, abandoned, and that all the crimes visited on our hearts by those we had loved would be revisited by the person whom we now loved  – and more than we ever thought possible.

This is the point in the story where things could have gone either way. Looking back, I see that we were going through a powerful and painful process of trust-earning. By showing one another our respective wounds, we were asking each other, albeit unconsciously: Will you betray me? Will you go away, too? Are you sure?   If we had remained unconscious to those questions, if we had allowed them to secretly lurk behind every fight, our relationship would have spiraled out of control. But what happened was this: Neither of us left because neither of us wanted that. We wanted to be together. Over time, we caught on to what was happening. We realized that if we didn’t talk about and include our deepest wounds in our newfound love, we would destroy it.  As we both began to trust that the other person wasn’t going to leave, we knew the relationship could survive our deepest demons.

The Scorpio Full Moon sheds light on the honest, bloody, ooey-gooey guts of things. The truth is, we cannot be wholly loved without being whole, and we cannot be whole without being fully seen and loved by another, our icky, wounded parts and all. Whether we’ve been struggling with hidden patterns in intimacy, or we feel blocked from moving forward in our lives, this Full Moon shines light into the darkness. Under her cool light, our resource is the degree of emotional intimacy and honesty we have with our self.

There’s always a breakout moment in relationship, a critical point where all our shadow stuff is, often gracelessly and perhaps dramatically, revealed. Yet this isn’t a disaster. It could be the moment where we find the courage and love in our heart to fully face our self, our most unattractive parts, our deepest fears.   It could be the moment where our greatest love meets our greatest pain, and loves us through it.

During those first years, we learned to restrain our selves from compulsively pushing our relationship to the edge. We learned to understand exactly how our train went off the rails, and perhaps more importantly, we learned to pause during those high-emotional-stakes-moments and refuse to engage the story. For instance, if the thought “this is it, this is really the end” crept into every disagreement, it brought unsafe energy into relationship, energy that does not inspire trust and so undermines the container that can hold it all. We learned to back off during those moments, and to gently befriend our own wounds, sometimes in the privacy of our own self. Scorpio needs calming Taurus as a balance; it takes guts to quell one’s fears, to be gentle and kind. It takes wisdom to back away from the edge of a too-intense conversation and get an ice cream, instead.

We survived each other and lived to tell the tale. From the other side I can confidently say that being seen wholly by the one we most love, sticking together through hell and high water, has big healing power. Intimacy unleashes a river of healing and forgiveness that we cannot access alone. It is the ultimate compassion. At this Full Moon, look into the mirror of your Beloved, or the Moon herself. It takes courage to face your deepest fears, your disowned self-parts, to take a deep look at the truth and to finally… breathe.

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