When I was conceived, my parents’ marriage was already at risk of dissolving, and one of my parents has characterized me as a “save the marriage” type baby. Recently, I have thought of what sorts of messages I might have intuited even from the womb: the sense that home itself was unstable, impermanent, that relationships were the same. Aggregating these messages, I may have been born knowing the pervasive truth of ephemerality.
This last fall, I learned of an aspect of my astrological chart I had never before explored: my “Chiron” placement, with Chiron signifying the “wounded healer.” To my understanding, the placement of this aspect signifies a wound with which we struggle in life; additionally, should we work to overcome that wound, it signifies a potential source of our strength, the unique way in which we show up and message we deliver to the world.
In my chart, Chiron falls in Cancer, meaning that my wound is in the area of home. To people with this placement, it often seems as though they have been deprived of a stable foundation growing up; there is a sense of lack of either nurturing, resources, or both. In the positive manifestation, people with this placement also stand to become nurturers and healers for others, creating a home environment that gives those others what the Chiron in Cancer person, themselves, lacked. Through lifelong intentionality and reflection, the Chiron in Cancer person stands to become a builder of both home and family.
It is no coincidence that for me, these very aspirations have constituted long-term anxieties, worries, and hardships. For no reason I can discern, in middle and high school I took on the message that there was something deeply wrong with me, some inferiority that accounted for why I did not have romantic relationships; even as I began to have these relationships in college and beyond, the insecurity persisted, and I always worried I would “screw things up.” At core, there was a sense that either I would choose the wrong person, or something within me itself would change, eradicating the foundation of the relationship.
A pattern I have leveraged to quell these anxieties is that of idealization: in place of the natural and normal precarities of relationship, I have substituted the sense that my partner is somehow “perfect;” this being the case, my mind believes there can be no negative outcome in the relationship, protecting me from the work of being present. Too, ideologies and myths such as those of the “one,” “fate,” or “destiny” have provided this assurance, telling me that the work was over because God’s hand had intervened. Paradoxically, through this assurance I have shut off my heart and mind, thereby failing to be present in and dooming the relationship.
Too, this pattern of idealization has emerged in my career, wherein I have frequently told myself I have been “found” in the perfect job, rendering the job as a sort of apotheosis of my life’s journey. This being the case, the “work” of life is over and the rest can be conceived as a denouement; both here and in romantic relationship, I have sought to rid myself of the anxiety brought on by my fundamental insecurities. Similar to the pattern of my relationships, in my work environments I have generally been disappointed: the shadow side of the work emerges, and I become disillusioned and leave the job. This sequence playing out time and again, the sense of homelessness is reinforced and I renew the search for “ideals.”
As both relationship and career patterns show me, it is the very assertion that I have found “home” in some domain of my life that creates the opposite, idealizing that thing so that I am then disillusioned and feel I must break away. In relationship, mythologizing my partner has kept me from the ambivalent, challenging project of entering into relationship with an actual, shifting human being; that relationship may or may not work out, and certainly its mystery contains its promise. Similarly, in the working world, searching for and frequently claiming the “perfect” job has riddled my resume with one-year stints: I think I have both found the one job to rule them all and myself been “found,” then realize the job is imperfect and cyclically move on.
As I have written elsewhere on my blog, on my back I bear a tattoo of a rootless tree, and it has never felt right for me and I do not think it will feel right to append that tree roots. As an existential condition, it is a fact that we are all of us rootless in this life: no matter what we build, nor how permanent it seems, in time that thing dissolves, just as my parents’ marriage dissolved shortly after I was born. Owing to my Chiron placement as much as to my physical story of origin, perhaps both my gift and my curse is that I am uniquely aware of this condition, seeing before I engage in something that it is as sand in an hourglass, already running through my fingers. In response to this reality, I can either flee to the idealization of my mind, telling myself that somehow this situation, this thing, this person will be different… or I can engage with reality as it is, loving despite entropy, accepting despite imperfection.