Lessons Learned – Our Shadow Dance Partners - Part I
Our relationships are probably the best training grounds for wholeness that we can encounter. It is hard to see yourself in a vacuum all by yourself. We all need a partner to see ourselves, and life certainly obliges us all along the way if we are willing to see that the person in front of us is indeed a mirror.
Maybe in your complex life experiences (which we all have) you had to see that you were indeed taking care of yourself finally when you had the courage to walk away from psychological abuse after person number three was emotionally badgering you. Maybe you had to do the complete opposite — stick it out if what you were seeing in the “other” was repeating and you recognized that yes, you do the same thing yourself. An example of that would be selfish or unselfish behavior which is very commonly projected. Kudos to you — big insight! These patterns do exist because they are inherent in our own psychology and as we have all heard at one time or another, like attracts like and opposites attract as what’s inside is indeed outside.
The ancient alchemists had an axiom that describes this, and it goes: As above, so below; as within, so without. We can’t escape from this occurring because it is energy and we are all made up of psychic energy.
There is no better tool than astrology to give you insights to what you came here to experience and ultimately to integrate with a partner’s help. All those people (close friends included) who came in and out of your life were put there for you to see something and grow in your own self-awareness. The 7th house planets, the sign on the cusp and your own aspects to Venus will give you a clarity and insight like no other. I will describe some more of this later in this series, but first I want to talk about the inner world that composes our psychic life.
C.G. Jung postulated that we each have an intra-psychic partner that he called the Anima (for men) and the Animus (for women). This unconscious part of us is actually the one doing the choosing because it wants to be known. Our unconscious is striving for wholeness, and because of that we will project our own unconscious contra-sexual gender onto another person. (This actually still works for LGBT relationships also as they, too, have an inner feminine/masculine image in their unconscious). I have seen in the birth charts the energy that is constellated in relationships in the charts of homosexuals as well as heterosexuals just as clearly. No difference.
Our Parents and Our Partners
Let’s start at the very beginning of our most important relationships, and that was with our mother and our father. None of us has had or was a perfect parent. We either had too much mothering or fathering or not enough so that we all carry within us an archetypal need for a mother and a father. Whatever the inadequacy that was left frustrated by the human beings who were just imperfect enough that we incarnated with in this lifetime, we will seek to heal.
A man’s mother is his first relationship, and this will significantly affect his relationships with women as he attempts to relate, connect and find a partner. The same goes for a woman. Her father and what she experienced with him will carry the seeds of the kind of lover she will choose for her perfect mate. Inherent in this choice (and there is no choice) is the psychodynamic of projection as our own psychic contents leave us and enter the world. This unconscious mechanism is inevitable in human relationships where we establish any kind of intimacy/sexual attraction/fascination. We call this falling in love or ”madly in love” as one of my friends put it recently. Our unconscious inner male or female, as well as the ego complex, the NOT I part of us that Jung called the Shadow, will land on someone who will carry this for us. None of this is done consciously.
First Half of Life Relationships
When we leave home, we are each trying to separate from our parents, find our own identity and our own home and be our own person. Healing the inadequacy of these primary relationships that Harville Hendrix in his book Keeping the Love You Find calls imagos is what marriage in the first half of life is about. We are each making an attempt at healing these primary wounds. C.G. Jung called them our own mother and father complex. Some of us also have deep within us the biological drive for procreation to bring children into this world to continue our species as well as a desire to connect with the beloved/God/the transcendent. So much hope and longing falls on our partner, and he or she becomes the recipient of our needs for maturity and spiritual development.
A big part of learning the lesson in these first-half-of-life marriages is that we have to become our own mother and our own father or we will continuously go looking for this human longing and archetypal need through our significant other out there.
All goes well at first, and a couple may have even lived together for several years and gotten along splendidly and then they make the commitment, sign the papers and take those nuptial vows, and now the relationship radically changes. Hidden from us, these complexes in the unconscious psyche now have complete permission to show up. We come face to face with our complexes and especially the one that is the NOT I called the Shadow.