Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy website.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day of ROMANCE! Romance is an innate, quick-acting solvent, capable of dissolving boundaries, with the promise of blissful union. Ultimately, romance engages us in a process of projection where we encounter both our inner blockages and ideals in the reflection of our beloved. The challenge in romance is to truly individuate, that is, to overcome our inner resistances and be available to love, versus seeking resolution through changes in our projected reflection in the other, for instance, trying to overcome a deep sense of unlovability through our lover’s convincing us that we are lovable, by their unrelenting, adoring attention, yet never truly believing this within, remaining compulsively bound to our lover’s reassurances.
We are all born from solution. Our bodies gradually coagulate and differentiate as we float blissfully in the ocean of the womb. Leaving the womb is hardly a blissful experience. Some have suggested that birth is indeed the primal trauma. Like the expulsion from the Garden, nature forcefully separates the babe from its creator. Our search for love as romance, throughout life, is our deep craving to recapture our primal oneness, wholeness with nature and creator.
The opus of the alchemists was to restore matter, the stone, to its prima materia, solution, the womb, where it could coagulate and be reborn as gold, wholeness. Our challenge in life is to discover and dissolve our hardnesses, our stones: our traumas, defenses, resistances, fears, that we might be reborn a unified whole, capable of true love.
Romance is the most powerful human solvent. In romance, all boundaries dissolve as we merge in magical oneness with our beloved. Most of the images of romance depict solution: champagne, wine, hot tubs, warm pools, clear lakes, waterfalls, ocean waves, warm sandy beaches, cruises, etc. These images of solution return the couple to their womblike origins as they are swept into blissful union. Or at least that’s the promise!
There are some drawbacks to this most desirable and rapid solvent, romance. The morning after often tends to not be so blissful. Aside from a potential hangover, the light of day and the differentiated clarity it offers can shed incredible doubt upon last night’s beloved. Nonetheless, the underlying drive for union is so great that romance eagerly and rapidly projects its golden glow upon yet an other, this time, hopefully, the right other. There is a vast pool of others, many fish in the sea, to project upon.
Often the chosen other reflects an old blockage, a stone in the heart, a frozen experience from the past where great expectation resulted in deep disappointment that shut down the heart. In this case, the golden lover, an obvious wrong choice to the eyes of objective friends or family, is the necessary mistake, the necessary obsession, an attempt to project, encounter and dissolve the old blockage, to once again allow love to flow. This strategy rarely succeeds, as union with this beloved other, in reality, is often most inappropriate, i.e., they are too old, too brutal, too immature, incapable of commitment, incapable of loving, etc. After many successive romantic failures we might, through a depression, be ready to turn inward and begin the opus of dissolution of the stone at its source, within the heart, in the process of recapitulation and individuation. Despite its promise, romance cannot supply a quick fix for necessary deep inner work.
The other major concern with solutio is drowning. The difference between finally being able to cry, to grieve over a loss and break down a long held blockage versus drowning in a pool of tears protesting birth and change, is the difference between floating in preparation for rebirth and clinging to and drowning in the womb, seeking wholeness only in primal unconscious union and oblivion. This is the difference between the child finding nurturance in new life versus the child clinging to the placenta, union through conscious individuation versus unconscious union. The object of the opus is rebirth, to dissolve and resolve, to be born anew, whole. This is the birth that includes consciousness, separateness, and the ability to be whole as separate, to drop separate boundaries and unite with another, yet be able to return to “separateness in wholeness.” Isn’t this the ultimate romance, love without possession, love without clinging; partners, separate and whole, together on a journey?
And so, Happy Valentine’s Day. Whether it be a time of hope with a New Valentine or a time of rebirth with an Old Valentine, just remember to find the greatest love of all, inside of me!
If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.
Until we meet again,