Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wanted: The Grounded Muse

I function most productively with a muse - a friend or a teacher or an article that gets me thinking, writing, researching, or creating. It's really hard not to be stimulated in this way. And hopefully there's a chance to continue developing the conversation, because I often move ahead with that expectation, whether its realistic to expect a continuing engagement or is just an assumed or hoped for wish. When it's a fantasy, or simply a poorly planned reality, there's a strong chance of disappointment, which usually causes my mood to take a nose-dive, and become disillusioned or get stuck and have to withdraw to recover....If I pick the right kind of muse, though, and proceed with a healthy dose of both honest desire and realistic expectations, then I might get the opportunity to work through the issues that arise with the people involved and move on to the 'advanced level' - or at least the things I work through won't be as frustrating for as long the next time they surface. That's the best kind of muse to have. If you can't get this kind of muse, I suggest being a little more detached from your lofty visions and expectations so that you can function with less disruption, and then maybe things will work out just fine on their own.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Maybe this is what my friends can't figure out about me

I wrote a long letter to a friend who's been struggling to understand me, as I often do, too. It seemed to have enough valuable insights to shape it into a blog post. I adapted it because I want to keep some separation between my personal sharing and my blog posts, and because the writer in me wanted to make it appeal to a wider audience - not that I'm expecting one, or anything like that - well, maybe I am. At any rate, here it is, mildly altered for your reading pleasure.

I've been wrestling with defining a certain issue lately, one that inevitably drives friends who try to get close to me absolutely bonkers (and it's no picnic for me either!). It has been the downfall of several attempted relationships. If you'll allow me to use a system that I know will explain things precisely and quickly, I'll tell you that I keep going back to something I read about Capricorns in a book called The Inner Sky. Its by Stephen Forrest, who's written some wonderfully accessible astrology books, and it provides the simplest and best fitting explanation for my eccentric behavior in relationships that I have right now. Having that reason is comforting, if only intellectually.

Capricorns, first, love to work- they feel it is their duty to work, and I feel that. So, if I'm pushing myself past my comfort boundaries, trying to do social things with new friends or trying to meet other people, for instance, then I think I must be doing something worthwhile, just because it feels like hard work.

Capricorns, second, need to succeed at what they do. Which adds an additional requirement to the mere presence of a feeling of hard work. And when the goal is to learn how to have fun or to "do something fun" (as friends will occasionally tell me to do) you really need something more than just the feeling of hard work. :) In other words, I need to feel comfortable hanging out or doing things with others, and not just wanting to feel that way, or thinking I should feel that way.

Finally, Capricorns are by nature, solitary folk who do what they commit to doing and usually see it through, but the most important thing, Forrest says, is that, even though they often do what they do in the public eye and get recognized for their work, they can never play to the crowd (as Leo's do, for instance). They know when they've succeeded and when they need to do better. In fact, the only one who really defines success for a Capricorn is himself, because he or she alone knows what it means for him or herself. If they define success by others' standards, they are lost. This for me, is a bold new idea, because it means its okay to accept my feeling of working apart from others as natural and healthy, that I'm not just standing apart because I'm angry about being excluded.

So, what I think is going on with new friendships, is that I try really hard because I think it's worthwhile work, but I'm not always honest with myself about what I really want, really need, and am really experiencing. The focus often goes to others and their reactions, rather than what I want, need, and know how to do. For example, I might be thinking that I need something just because I'm afraid others will leave if I stand on my own. But I feel strong when I do things to stand on my own, and that can mean making an effort to be more socially connected, as long as that effort grows out of my own values rather than my fears of being accepted by others. Simple and complex as that.

When I'm trying new things, I, like some other friends I know, can get really scattered. I simply don't connect things that I've just been doing to conversations I'm having, for instance. Then I think I actually make myself bothered about that, because I want to be seen as being responsible (the Capricorn energy again) and always bettering myself (Virgo energy). My folks reinforce this behavior continually, and it is just starting to lose its power over me - thanks in large part to the other people I'm getting connected to in my life, and the 'work' I'm doing in analysis, astrology, and writing.

When I'm anxious in this way, I can't process things. As soon as I feel I've taken care of those needs - usually by finishing off a list of things to do, or letting someone else help me, or by connecting with an old, familiar friend or way of being - then I lose the paranoia and things start to reconnect, and I feel calmer. The challenge now is to stop myself from automatically jumping into these anxious states when I am doing something 'new.' New things are often variations of old things - the template is in place, and widely applicable.

Reminds me of a situation at a high school music performance where a girl I was obsessed with getting to know finally paid attention to me. Turns out she just wanted me to remove a chair that was vacant from the row of instruments in front of me. I smiled and demurred - no, I didn't want to come up and sit next to her. She kept trying to get the point of what she was saying across to me, but finally rolled her eyes, sighed quietly, and stood up to remove the chair herself. Cute and silly example we can all relate to - she was taking care of a minor, practical thing; I was thinking of all the roses and candy hearts I had been wanting to give her for the past two months and worrying about I could present them without earning rejection. I guess it's still like that for me, but there are more things I've gotten anxious about than being the guy who gets the girl - or doesn't. I guess that one is still there, though.

Things are getting easier. It used to be, I always be trapped in this anxious state, unendingly suffering and feeling lost. And while I was feeling that way, I was also getting a PhD, teaching full time, creating course innovations for students (and my own sanity), planning trips, reading novels, making this or that thing for the home…a lack of talent, flexibility, or fortitude isn't the problem. Feeling okay about things at my core and knowing how to take care of my emotional self (versus dramatizing it) is the problem -sorry, challenge - sorry, opportunity. :)

There is a groundedness that some people have - a comfortable, earthy patience that says, "I can take all you got and it won't phase me - how 'bout coming to sit on the porch and have a glass of iced tea?" even while chaos rages around them. It's probably something successful hairdressers and bartenders and nurses have - I hope I have it too, since I can visualize it. Sometimes I think I remember how to be that way. That I don't have to create some big, important, impressive persona to be accepted by others. My folks did that, like when my dad got his office job in the big city on the east coast and my mom had to host a fancy party at a place that wasn't even her house. Well, knowing that people who say they're always overwhelmed actually can do what they need to do and learn the rest...that's a topic for another blog post. In the meantime, I just note that that anxious people pleasing has never left our family…though we've done worthwhile things, too.

I can stop myself a little more easily now from running around like its an anxiety emergency, if I try to remember that I'll feel okay by being my usual self. But sometimes I can't find the place where my usual self resides in my mind or in my body. That's also getting easier, but it takes a long time to build that comfort level with others around, and when I'm in situations that feel stressful. These might be those situations I thought were valuable just because they felt like hard work - I feel better and better about declining to get involved with many of them. But, I've run all the way to a frikkin' PhD for chrissakes, and learned astrology by myself, not to mention how to care for a house on my own! :) That's a lot of frantic activity, and its finally getting through that I don't have to do all that to be okay or to be accepted by others - in fact, I have to stop, just to know my self, be my self.

I've also said that I'm a dreamy-eyed romantic idealist. The saving grace there, is that I actively and continually search out lessons and learn from new or stressful situations, so that this dreamy, idealistic romeo can define and experience his own brand of success in this harsh, unforgiving world. I've been following the idea that a guy gets the girl and is okay for life since kindergarten. I hardly ever get the girl, but I do make sure to get something valuable from every encounter. Its been the hardest damn desire to chip away at, to get to the place where I realize that I might want to let go of this way of looking at the world long enough to get what I need most right now, and that is to succeed at taking care of myself, developing confidence in my ability to choose activities and jobs and friends that help me feel like I'm a unit in the world who can support himself - emotionally and socially as well as financially. Saturn issues, I guess, but across a broad spectrum.

Given the slightest chance, however, I'll escape from doing those things quicker than the sparks fly from a roman candle. And when I do, even if it's to "have fun" or celebrate something or take a "vacation," I'm inevitably thrown for a loop. It seems that what I need to learn how to work without making it such hard work and so little fun as well as how have fun without escaping a healthy responsibility - my Pisces placement of Saturn doesn't seem to allow for strict boundaries or too much effort - it would rather just go with a nice, quiet flow, learning the lessons of life and the universe as they come to him.

Perhaps this also takes a combination of commitment and patience. I feel like I've worked around another little corner in the census work lately. I reflected on how many more details of a new friend's story I know now than when I was pursuing them all intensely and sharing so many of mine with her - something new and lots of it all the time, every time. Now maybe the process is more relaxed, more stable, more realistic. And that's shifted my perspective, got it back down within the normal range of experience.

Well, okay, I'm also really hesitant to dream, because so many dreams get dashed so easily with Juno in the early degrees of Pisces. Sometimes that's part of the process, and it's okay. I learn not to be attached to my passions or their outcomes too deeply. Isabel Hickey says I also need to really work my ass off to pursue those dreams and to get what I need, and I never really considered that before. It's cracked open a whole new world of possibility and - chance to experience feeling okay about myself and empowered by patient, quiet work - if I can stay tuned in to that deeper, subtler wisdom that guides the choices we make. What Hickey says feels like a good fit, but I bet it can generate a hornets' next of anxieties as well as feelings of courage and competence. Kind of like getting into the pool for the first time after being afraid of the water.

I'm always needing to reinforce the idea that without a basic grounding in worldly responsibilities, thinking dreamily that I'm going to get what I need from friendships and romance, from the typical kinds of comforts and pleasures that people just dependency, and that brings in early childhood/past life/whateveryouwanttocallit issues that I'm finally getting to in analysis and with astrology.

I don't know what those issues, thoughts, and feelings are yet, except that its likely I've been deeply trained to suppress honest truths as to what's going on with me, or even suppress simple opinions, in order not to upset others or make them appear improper. I might react by rebelling and being super harsh in my critique. Like "the emperor has no clothes" story, only I'm really mean about it. There really are a lot of very basic fears I've grown up with that center around talking about basic human things, things most other people base everyday communication and interactions around - things that are just part of being human - unless of course, you're a repressed Protestant :).

I'm just getting to the point of understanding that and knowing, too, that it's okay to take care of those fears - not to push too harshly - to be okay with boundaries and achieve less than total awareness and solution as soon as you possibly can.

Maybe I don't know anything more clearly than that, so I might sound like I'm being evasive. Let's just say, one example, was my friend from Oregon who grew up on a farm. Biological processes of every kind are a part of life when you live on the farm. You don't last long if you're squeamish or muffle all talk of sex, birth, death, crap and body parts. Well, the only animals I lived with until I was in my twenties were fish. And the reason why, if you ask me, was that we lived in this atmosphere of fear and hurt that kept us from developing a healthy, communicative environment, which included the fact that we lived in bodies that were human, and I'd say it was greatly my mom's influence, though my dad didn't step up to the bat when he had the chance. Fear of death and loss, sex, and all the animal parts of ourselves - well, Virgo doesn't like all that improper stuff right off the bat, but still, I've not done my work to get over it the way I want to. I automatically assume everyone else feels the same way and censor myself unnaturally. You think I'm bad at this. Seeing how my mom is almost makes me want to cry or yell - it's that bad. At least with my dad there is an interest in exploring these topics intellectually or philosophically. My mom just clams up. Part of her history, I guess, along with the shadow of male intellectual superiority. I don't know how to talk about it. We were trained not to.

It's one aspect of what I'm trying to work toward understanding and releasing. Tierney says these things are the realm of waxing or lower squares, that first ninety degree point on the journey of two planets through their cycle of relationship to each other. I read the section on squares a couple months ago, and I'm still assimilating what I read.

I hope this isn't way more than people want to know about. I'm more afraid not to put things out there than I am to sacrifice my ego. I get to thinking and it's like, why not start to work on it...(Mercury in a cardinal sign). Of course, I do have a choice to control what I start - and what I share - to be responsible in that way. And its about time I started owning that responsibility. But, lacking a partner or other close friends that I share my activity space and emotions with on a routine basis, this kind of interaction and public exposure is a valuable source of lessons and growth. It's hard to keep bringing up the same issues once you've laid them out and posted them somewhere for others to see. Hopefully, they have less power over you and become easier to let go of.

I don't have to "figure it all out" before I dare to interact with anyone, but that's what I tend to do, or want to do. Reading through this as I write, I'm getting a sense just now that I'm putting all the focus on me, and that sounds pretty anxious in itself - trying to make it look like I'm super-responsible, but honestly, I'm feeling a bit egotistical and self-centered. That's a tricky moment, when you feel vulnerable because you've done something generally considered to be less than stellar social behavior. You can relax and realize the folly of what you're doing in a good-natured way or you can try covering up what you've done - or think you've done. It's easier to relax when your friends aren't adding to your anxieties by insisting on fitting in, and making you fit in. The Chinese culture values saving face much more than we do, and when its part of standard procedure, I think it helps a person to let go, because everyone knows the reality, but also takes care of the personal feelings.

I went to a few EA meetings way back when - my therapist pushed me in that direction, seemingly annoyed or harried by my complete and utter cluelessness and the fact that I didn't seem to take much action about correcting it. I felt compelled to follow up once the suggestion was put out there, and, despite the anxiety and the voices that said I didn't need this path, I went…I didn't really get it - I wasn't really aware enough to do my own work then and without support of friends, there wasn't much motivation either...but the first time I talked, a person across the circle says, "We're not expecting a PhD, just give us something simple."…That was before I started grad school, but I got that PhD, didn't I? and I still have a heck of a time talking in plain language. Get the picture? I do have to write a PhD sometimes - until I know I've said enough and got enough out in a format I'm satisfied with to let it go, be done with it - not because I should be done with it, but because I actually am done with it.

There's the need and then there's the compromise - giving up that hard headed attitude (I have semi-squares involving Mercury, and my Moon sesquisquares my Sun, which does the same to the North Node; Uranus opposes Chiron and trines my Sun.) Sometimes I get it - that I can trust the world - they're not the family I grew up in, so I don't have to come out in full battle armor, and even with my family I can trust MYSELF around them more and more these days. I can trust, and then I get a handle on that pigheaded attitude and let go of it. But not automatically, and not always in every situation. Still, it makes life so much less exhausting when you can get along and not be afraid of being unheard. When you remember that you can shut off the overactive defensiveness.

"Live" communication is not easy for me. Writing about things is and organizing things...that is something I've worked to develop. That's been my guardian protector.

I'm going to try to state a point more clearly with the hope that it describes a confusing part of my behavior that I'm very unsure of. To use shorthand, "in a past life" I think I may have been intense, adventurous, a good-time boundary stretcher, who probably enjoyed wine, women, and song...and paid for it, or maybe I wanted to do all these things, as well as perform some renowned work, but I was not ready for it and got into situations beyond my skill level that caused me to talk wildly and anxiously without much truth or power behind my words, and that led others to receive me very differently than I was expecting. This is the part of my personality that doesn't square with these other, more introspective parts I've been talking about, and I think I've figured something out by examining my natal chart from the perspective of Stephen Forrest and by using the techniques he outlines in his book, Yesterday's Skies. It is that healing those inner aspects of my personality by continually developing good, honest, and emotionally connected communication will help me grow by creating and maintaining the security of a home and a family (in the broadest sense of the word) that I want, and that's what my direction in this life is to be, already is - rather than the worldly achievement, adventure, and accolades. Its hard to change a heading, though...when I want to get to know someone, I'm still trying to be "good time Charlie," and the seductive, intellectual knight in shining armor, but even succeeding at that is not going to be much of a useful success. Well, maybe I'm just extra harsh with myself because I'm afraid to hope and to dream, except in private.

If I do go that path of boy meets girl, boy likes something about this girl, boy has to do something to "get" girl…I get so far and then I don't know where to go with it…not sexually - I'm skilled in that department - but interpersonally - and at that point checking in with myself emotionally becomes vitally important, as is connecting with someone else on that level - not in a "I'm so sensitive, don't you want to be with me" kind of way, but more like an honest, "I don't know what is going on or what the best solution to this situation is, but I'm in it again - do you know how to handle it?" Eventually I learned to frame this kind of process as a learning experience and an experiment. Somewhere in there, that quiet part of me is actually healing and connecting, but it's usually the first part of me that drives the car.

Astrologically, I think its interesting that Mars and Venus in first house Aquarius and Pluto and Uranus in eighth house Virgo all quintile the South Node, while Chiron in the Cancerian decan of Pisces, the Moon in Virgo, and Vesta in Cancer all aspect the North Node in the Fourth House. Other objects have aspects to the North Node, most notably Juno in a nearly exact (to the minute) orb of a square to the nodes, but all three of the first aspects I mentioned, plus the Node itself, have a lunar component - the Moon, Cancer, or the Fourth House. Adventure and intensity versus home, healing, and inner life. That was what appeared in an utterly logical and unmistakable way on the diagram I made of each of the lunar nodes and their aspects. I drew it up after finishing Yesterday's Skies. It was like following instructions and being really surprised because they gave you a result just as predicted, because you saw it on the page rather than imagining it in your mind, or expecting it to flow from your theories. Kind of like plugging numbers that form no obvious pattern into a statistical formula and getting a result that actually means something.

I must look pretty goofy, confused, or downright brooding and spaced out to my friends sometimes, especially when they've seen me being so confident and engaged at other times. I try to look normal and sound enlightened. This is what is going on. Except when my evil twin wants to act however he wants to just to show that he doesn't have to accept the rules of the rest of society and that he can honestly find a good explanation that justifies any kind of odd behavior, like astrology, for example! Yeah, finally caught that dichotomy, as I was reading through the final post. Both of these things are going on at once, and the second one doesn't fit the self-image I feel like I should project (have been trained to project). The first part is usually mortified by the second. I've adopted personas to make the whole thing look rational and within the bounds of normal behavior. But now, I'm beginning to actually believe that I don't have to settle for that way of being. That I don't have to stand apart or wait forever just because my folks do, or because I'm different in some ways (who isn't), or I don't "get" things at all, it seems. I really am finally starting to believe that I am part of the regular human race, and if I want to be different, I can choose to be, and if I want to be part of it, I can learn to be. And it actually could happen! - That kind of thing. This is me trying to pull it all together, and I've learned from glancing back through old journals that there is often more truth in these things than I might know when I write them, but I'm afraid of being embarrassed for finding out they're a very elaborate concoction for a much simpler, but less comfortable truth.

What else? I'm also discovering that I automatically tell myself, and others, that I'm having fun doing things, even when I don't know whether or not I am, and whether that's even a relevant question. It might be that I am actually having some fun - I certainly need people to get me away from just 'working' on myself all the time or trying to be pure or perfect about everything in my life, and I also don't want to spew negativity about something a friend's done for me just because I'm trying to hold on to life by my fingernails that day. It seems so self-centered, but I really don't know how to simply be gracious. And, okay, the truth. I know it is really important for me to meet my friends' friends so that I'm not just focused on one person, which is not healthy. I've got a clearer picture of a new friend and what I been told about their world. It wasn't easy, and meeting up with anyone from my far past is a challenge, because of the uncertainty about whether I've moved on or am still stuck in the past, compared to others. I know I need to give myself time to work through things, and handle my insecurities and different ways of processing information. Like everyone else, I suppose.

That's most of it as far as I can tell. I'm afraid to express some things more directly, but I don't want to miss opportunities or shoot myself in the foot for no reason. It would be nice not to have to act naive when I don't really need to. I don't know how to read people - or I used to not be able to - so I stand back and observe and use my wizard of oz systems of knowledge to build up my sense of confidence. I wait for things to calm down so I can find out what I really need. Or maybe I'm just a garden variety neurotic. Trying to accept it, either way.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

this feels oddly like rocket fuel

The planets Uranus and Jupiter have just moved in to Aries, which is an impulsive, active fire energy. I believe I can feel that shift palpably, and my blood pressure has risen ten points, according the person who checked it last week. It feels like there's rocket fuel in my system, and just about anything will bring it to the surface and ignite it.

But, when I'm trying to find my way through the world, I notice my usual strategy is to try adapting on the fly, shifting things around automatically to accommodate people if I believe it will get me what I've determined is the thing I need or want. I'm philosophical about it, too, trying to find nuances. I study the problem, looking for ways to find it fascinating rather than facing it squarely and firmly.

Well, Uranus and Jupiter in Aries are having none of that candy-ass shit, and Pluto, backing over my natal Mercury now, feels like the volcanic event that it is.

Until my session today, I had been complaining about the way the energy felt (and worrying that others would think I was devolving if I admitted to doing so). I guess I was coming at it from a perspective of holding things apart while I weigh them, balancing needs for others over my own if it didn't create too many problems, and trying to be responsible and aware by incorporating all I'm learning and reading about into all my decisions. And, just to appear appropriately non-depressed as well as appropriately responsible and up to date, I was trying to "have fun," i.e., convince myself I was enjoying doing things "everyone should enjoy doing," though, to be honest, there was little heart involved in the effort, and not much actual reason for trying (other than to avoid being a total recluse, which is important).

All that effort to cover pretty obvious inclinations has mostly resulted in my feeling very depressed and acting in what I can only describe, in retrospect, as extremely and transparently passive aggressive (almost to the point of being a little funny) whenever a set of challenging issues surface.

I've had some actual challenges in the past few weeks - my car wasn't running well, bringing back memories of July 1993 when my Mitsu Colt committed hari kari at a gas station in suburban St. Paul; I had a new health concern surface - a little blood after I urinated - that looked like it needed to be addressed, and that isn't something I usually have to deal with, even though I almost always seem to worry about doing something for my health; I don't know if I'm working with others the way I should in my job, and, more immediately, it feels like it has been taking over my personality, even though that pay and the routine interaction with my compatriots are probably two of the things I need most for my well-being. I meet new friends and feel like I don't know how to adapt enough to their ways of doing things - or keep myself from over-adapting, let alone simply relax and do normal things with others.

I feel like I'm using a lot of other people's words here, but like the symbols in astrology, they're serving the purpose to express both my understanding of what is going on and documenting the fact that I'm making an effort to do so, which seems inordinately important to me - I have a twelfth house Mercury in Capricorn.

Back to Pluto and Uranus and Jupiter saying "Enough!" Enough figuring out, enough fine tuning, enough sampling this and that. Okay, I'm listening. But what do I need to accept your perspective, to trust their energy to get me where I need to be going?

I guess you could say my life is like a house of cards, having been precariously built with extreme precision and easily blown to the four winds. I also think of my process as doing a puzzle - scanning all my experiences and learned skills and the facts that I've gathered (the assembled puzzle pieces) to find the exact place (or set of words) to fit the piece (or feeling) that belongs exactly there. Which is fine, but sooner or later all that hunching over, close scrutiny, and balancing of cards or fitting of pieces gets to feel really cramped, and I can't help but conclude that my complaints about this new feeling of "rocket fuel" in my system might be stemming from the way I am forcing myself to keep working on that puzzle or add "just one more" story to the perfectly balanced house of cards when there are other kinds of activities that are called for to respond to this new energy.

I started my session today with the complaint/joke that the only thing Uranus and Jupiter have done for me in Aries is to raise my blood pressure and make frustration erupt onto the surface more quickly and easily than I've ever felt before. The analyst asked if I would listen to a suggestion, which was that I start providing details about the events that were causing this frustration to surface. I got into a few of the details and was trying to construct a story with a definite beginning and end, then all these other details and associations poured out at the same time, but that was okay - I may be all over the place these days, but unlike before, I know I will get where I want to go if I can just get myself underway. It doesn't have to be polished.

Where we finally arrived (with more than a few loose ends I was still trying to tie up as I was exiting the room at the end of the session), was at the fears I had about what would happen if I gave away the events of my life in a detailed manner - how I would expose my secret fantasies and vulnerable feelings that provided the structure of my house of cards, and how that would make me feel open to embarrassment or even rejection from those I had or believed I now do depend on for security. This was not hard to articulate. There was no elaborate story with tortured filtering and distracting sidebars; rather, I replied by quickly stringing a few thoughts together that drew on things I have been reading and thinking about and free admissions to the thoughts that were probably behind the feelings I was actually having.

I generally feel solidly confident in my ability to convey an understanding of myself this way, but it does take time. I have to find some comfort first, before things flow. Without that basic requirement met, I'm an anxious mess!

Astrology: Haumea (an idea, based on a web page interpretation that seems to fit my experience well) tightly conjunct natal Moon trined to Mercury, but Moon is coming into opposition to Saturn and squares the North Node in Gemini. As a side note, the South Node ruler, Jupiter (in detriment) quincunxes Neptune and the Ascendant (which I bet accounts for the odd, inaccessible physical sensations that would be so distracting and worrisome when I was blabbling at the mouth in a classroom - and i do mean blabbling - that was a useful criticism of an ineffectually applied fifth house Gemini Jupiter).

So, the security concern was based on feeling unsure about how much to share and what details to include. It was met, not by solving the problem - fixing it, in other words - but by articulating it! That released the pressure and created a significant shift in what seems to have been a pattern of thinking in which I was stuck. Because...while driving home through West Philly a half hour later, I became aware of my mind connecting the complaints I was trumpeting about the new energy of Aries and the Pluto transit to my demonstrated ability to articulate my needs, feelings, and concerns. I suddenly believed that the energy I was trying to convince myself was unhelpful was actually helping me to release the pent up anger and frustration by pushing it past the fears.

I think the key was that once I saw that I could still put what I needed to into actual words that were articulate and being heard by someone else I had grown to trust on a feeling level (even when we're fighting on an intellectual level), I felt okay about the energy and being open to the potential it was offering me to keep growing (the planets are coming into a sextile with my natal North Node). I didn't have to be afraid of releasing this crap inside me, since I knew that I wouldn't lose what I had gained in terms of confidence and communication skill, nor would my sense of a healthier, more level-headed responsibility disappear just because I felt more easily angered - that a little blood in my eyes wouldn't blind me, but might actually help me get to a calmer, stronger place.

Immediately after that I thought of a situation where an assertion of my new insight would be challenged, and the energy sunk wordlessly below the surface. It will be a challenge to not simply swallow assertion whenever someone shames me for being "unthoughtful." Or whenever I'm fretting over finding the perfect words and wondering how to convince others that they are valid. Just as it is always a challenge to stave off the desire to grab hold of some argumentative, aggressive energy and fight my way to the "right" position (that ol' South Node Sagittarius).

This I seem to strongly believe - that sometimes its more important in healing to allow a person to stumble or thrash their way to the real words they need to describe their feeling or their idea than to demand a refined, pleasant exchange from the outset. Now, who be demanding that? Hmm...where's the mirror? (Also sounds suspiciously like that aggressive energy I was talking about in the previous paragraph. Moving on...)

The interesting thing about all this is that I've just realized that I've been having a similar issue with regard to my father and my finances, which he in part provides. My father doesn't know how to be diplomatic or clear about financial arrangements, and I literally felt threatened by his inappropriate and patronizing demand to know every detail of my spending habits. What was really strange was how free and honest I felt when I accommodated his demands and felt my anguish and struggle - as well as the threatening energy from him - disappear. Not because I was the "errant son" who came clean, but because when I found that I could be honest in a situation and not be harmed. It was as if some kind of grace entered into the equation and the threat disappeared. I don't really how to describe it, but it isn't the first time this has happened.

Once when I was really angry at my dad - I was a teenager, and he wasn't giving me my freedom, most likely, as he still doesn't really know how to do - but I responded differently. Instead of arguing myself into a tense, insomnia-filled night, I wrote the letters "D" "A" "D" on a card envelope that I had in my bedroom, over and over in all shapes and sizes until the entire envelope was filled, and magically, in that process, the ranting anger and frustration transformed into a feeling of love and appreciation - not for the way he behaved, or the way I did, but just for the person, I guess. I don't know what caused me to do what I did that one time, but the memory has stayed with me and can still be useful when I want to melt some of that hard edge that I get. The gifts my dad gives me are very subtle and spiritual and don't come directly through his personality or the words he communicates with. Nor are they tangibly practical, though not too long ago, having listened to his opinions long enough without dismissing them in favor of my own equally strong opinions, I discovered that I've been automatically dismissing some normal sounding practical advice - some. I guess having confidence in yourself and knowing what you have to say is worthwhile - as well as having a sympathetic audience that is willing to consider what you are saying - are two very important components of an effective interpersonal communication. That, apparently is my father's day message.