After ninety minutes of “This planet is lining up with that planet in that house,” all I could remember was one sentence: “This stage of your life is about slaying dragons.” My friend Jim, a brilliant astrologer, was reviewing my natal chart.
Jim explained that I was being challenged to face my biggest fear, and it wasn’t going to be easy. As Bette Davis said in the classic movie All About Eve: “Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
Career was easy for me, Jim said, but relationships were not. My emotions could be somewhat frozen. No shit, Sherlock, I said silently to myself.
Since my marriage fourteen years ago, I haven’t been in a relationship that’s lasted more than three years. Looking back on these relationships, I realize that almost every one of my ex-partners complained about my lack of feeling.
Several years ago after I broke up with the first man I had lived with since my divorce, I plunged into a dark space. I turned to a therapist for help.
The therapist helped me see that I had a fear of being present. I was also afraid to face intense emotion, especially sadness. In order to defend my heart, I covered it in a hard shell. I learned that in order to free it, I would have to go to the place I fear most: my sorrow.
For the past year, I’ve tried a wide range of modalities to help open my heart including ecstatic dancing, craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, talk therapy, and psychic healing, but it wasn’t until I met with my ex-partner two years after our breakup that something in me broke open. There’s a rabbinical saying that the only true open heart is a broken heart.
In that meeting, I became the man I longed for: I was present, vulnerable, and open- hearted. The anger and hurt dissipated, and the love I felt for this man flowed through me.
For months, my therapist has been telling me to welcome the sorrow. While I understood what he was suggesting, I couldn’t imagine actually welcoming anything as painful as sorrow.
I know sorrow has been my muse. Sorrow has helped me create some of my best paintings and write some of my most poignant pieces, but it’s still tough for me to welcome it. Yet when my ex-partner and I talked I allowed my pain to penetrate me—if only for a minute. By becoming vulnerable and undefended, I rediscovered the love that had been there all along.
While I’m a long way from slaying the dragon, I got a glimpse of what life would be like without this dragon in my life. I now have a felt-sense of the man I want to be. I know what it feels like to allow love to freely flow through me.
Sorrow still scares me—any intense emotions do—but a tiny crack has appeared in the wall of my resistance. If I can keep chiseling away, I have to believe it’s just a matter of time before the wall crumbles. The dragon will be slayed.