A love story.
In a love relationship, as Jung once put it, you risk everything. You put yourself on a table, you stop the power game and the trying to dominate or conquer the other person. If you succeed in really loving the other person, if you really relate, then all sorts of miracles happen. But in the beginning stages a general state of blindness possesses you, illusions or wrong expectations, disappointments, recriminations. You have to work through all that first. And that’s how you become more conscious. I didn’t say it is agreeable. So if you don’t love the other, you run away after a while. — Marie Louise Von Franz
“You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there’s a way or a path, it is someone else’s path.”
– Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss
I had to wander a long time in the country of swamps and quicksands of love. I experienced infatuation, I knew attachments based on illusion and false assumptions, on physical attraction only, on everything except real love, in fact. I was a lost wandering donkey braying at the moon.
Suddenly I was led out into a small clearing and tossed into the fires of the real thing, or rather something that could mutate into the real thing. It almost bucked me off several times, but I held on for dear life. I sometimes felt I was walking on hot coals. I kept my pain and confusion secret. Awakening the true bonds of the heart was slow for me. It required letting go of lifelong doubts and self protection.
Seeing with empathy wasn’t foreign to me, but living with another person who stirred so many passions and fantasies, who woke so many childish insecurities was a trial. I still view her enveloped in a silver-golden aura, even after three and a half decades. I don’t see her as just another human with all the normal foibles, even in moments of fleeting irritation and misunderstandings. I still can’t help but believe she’s a better example of humanity than I am.
Something pulled me through. Maybe it was that. I know I’ve got that donkey in me somewhere but I’ve never spied that element in her. I do know it took awhile for me to grow on her but that’s probably because she was exhausted at the time, not because I looked like a goat to her. She had a history of relations with unreconstructed and difficult men.
What’s interesting to me is how fundamentally real love changes you, and how fraught the process is. Falling in love, getting married and living happily ever after is an adolescent fantasy. It is actually a resetting of all your psychic bones and postures in the world. It’s not painless, not least because there are few directions and guidance. You’re on your own, filled with both inspiration and doubt, on your unique path.
I have come to a new and larger clearing of certainty and peace in this process. Thank God, because I’m not getting any younger. Looking back I see my inner landscape as raw material for the real love I sought. The promised land is different than I imagined it, but I look back at the young man I was with a certain indulgence. I was an idiot, so what?
We all have a ways to go, tests to take and pains to suffer. Becoming human is a grand project. It’s best to just take the leap and hope for the best. There are no formulas to save us. Only courage and kindness will make a viable path for the soul.
- Anima Fire is my publication