Sometimes you have to give people permission to stop running. Let’s unpack that a little,
because no one hates a pithy solipsism more than me (just kidding, I love a pithy solipsism).
To be desiring of love is to be human – a constitutional “happy, healthy, successful person” need,
some Maslow-ian necessity that every piece of art, every self-help book, every consummable
and marketable piece of whatever-the-fuck tells us we are meant to want, to yearn for. Most of
the stories which craft our cultural narrative, many of the mores and values we are taught to
assimilate, and a significant amount of the professional services this world offers contend with
this need for love, and, subsequently, how we can meet that need when we aren’t naturally
arriving at it.
A problem arises, however, when we are not taught how to accept love. All the expert
orchestration of the desire, the longing for the thing, is communicated ad infinitum, and yet the
seemingly obvious act of accepting that love once it has been offered – once we have “Won” the
hunt for such a rarified beast – eludes many of us.
Let’s be clear about a thing: you can be loved, and in a relationship, without being able to accept
love. You can find yourself complicit in all the trappings of couple-dom, the double dates, living
together, the holidays with family, the starting of families, the building of homes, and still not
have accepted the love from the person you are doing all of these things with. Many people
spend their whole lives running away from the thing they ran into, never gaining traction and
only allowing a skeptic sort of anxiety to roil away beneath the surface.
It’s a protective mechanism, a defense against the primordial fear – maybe of annihilation, of
being consumed by the Other, maybe of having to relinquish all of one’s core beliefs around
being unlovable, maybe it’s as inane and pathological as an avoidance of true intimacy or
commitment. Perhaps we often try to imbue a deeper, richer interpretation to something that is
so basic and obvious that we recoil against accepting the reason we are so dysfunctional is over
something as asinine and mundane as fear. Not us! We’re courageous knights-of-faith,
unyielding sentinels on the battlefield of love, willing to die for that most transcendent of
virtues – that thing which seems to make us unequivocally human. To bequeath us with some
special personhood, like Byron and Browning seemed redolent with.
But it is a great, daunting labor to accept love: to allow into this shaky carapace of our identity
something as totalizing, as consuming, as love from the Other. How alien, how invasive, to allow
into our carceral defenses something so accepting and adoring of all of our…what? What is it
that we despise so much about ourselves that the quality of love becomes untenable? What are
we afraid the illumination of love will expose within the labyrinthe darkness of our True Selves?
We don’t get to decide whether other people love us, but we do decide – with every choice we
make, with every word we utter, with every story we tell ourselves – whether or not we will let it in.
We endorse or condemn relationships with defensive mechanisms, with every wall we erect: we
are, in truth, always running.
And sometimes, you have to give people permission to stop running. It sounds ridiculous, but it
can really be that simple. Our fear of what we want prohibits us from accepting it, and
sometimes it requires a courageous and stupid (to paraphrase Kierkegaard) leap of faith, of
tenacious vulnerability in the face of loss and humiliation, and give someone permission to stop
running. They may not choose to accept it, they may choose to keep running, but one of you
has to stop running long enough to grant the other permission. No one wants to be the first
person to stop running and to risk emotional vivisection in the name of intimacy, to be the one
sacrificing their own safety, but frankly, someone has to do it.
So many of my conversations with my peers, my friends, my clients, my world around me have
been surmised by this apparently fundamental and yet treacherous problem of acceptance. The
agony of love, the torture of acceptance. The virulent fear of the thing we fundamentally crave,
and a great rebellion against the act of…submission? Is it that we conflate acceptance with
submission? I think it’s that it feels safer to be a moving target, and that it will, quite frankly,
always be safer to be a moving target because we infrequently allow ourselves to remain still
enough for our heart to be broken.
But the great mysteries of love require a sacrifice, often specifically of our defenses. If we are to
be immersed in the cosmic delirium of true intimacy, that stellar bath of connection, we must
choose to allow it to happen to us and with us. This, for me, is such an intrinsic lesson of
Saturn’s rulership of Venus when our fairer benefic adorns herself in the seagoat’s vestments. A
deliberate, intentional stillness – like the moments where she will soon station retrograde, and
subsequently station direct – create deep canopies of space in which the silence gives way to
astounding emotion. Where we are humbled by our choices, our intentional and actionable
choices, to commit, to connect, to knot ourselves together in tandem with that surreptitious tidal
flow of love.
I believe that Venus’ retrograde in Capricorn is not limited to love and relationships, sure – so
many factors play significant roles in the way in which any transit will, or will not, impact you. But
I feel a certain bristling in my bones which Saturn has taught me to listen to, and this rustling of
calcium burrs is whispering a mantra: “sometimes we have to give people permission to stop
running”. I believe, in one way or another, we will all be confronted with our fear of accepting
love, if that is a psychodrama which hasn’t played out ’til resolution in your life. I believe that we
will contend with myriad walks down memory lanes around the ways in which we ran when we
were asked to stay (sometimes for the better). And we will reckon with what we are running
towards, or perhaps away from, and why that answer is usually simply “ourselves”.
It feels no coincidence that for many of us, this will be our first holiday season where travel has
been normalized since the onset of Covid. I believe the space will allow room for us to recognize
patterns, identify stories, and more deeply understand our response to intimacy and connection.
Many of us will be with our family of origin for the first time in two years, or perhaps with our
partners, maybe with chosen family, or maybe with no one at all – but all of these options are
generative of a certain investigation of connection. Often, we define ourselves by what we
believe we are not, and in this negative space of difference, I posit that our Venus Rx will begin
to share what it has to teach us about closeness. About sharing in difference. About choosing to
overcome difference, perhaps, most importantly. The magic happens in the sacrifice, the magic
happens in the act of intentional vulnerability. The magic happens when we permit ourselves to
connect in ways that aren’t so easy to untether. When we stop searching for the emergency exit.
All of this is a very long way for me to say that if you’re still running, maybe this is an opportunity
to stop. Maybe this is an opportunity to give someone permission to stop running from your love,
by sacrificing your safety as a moving target. Maybe this is the time to just tell someone you love
them even if they don’t accept it, because someone has to stop running first and it may as well
be you. And this is especially the time to remember that often the people most hungry for love,
the ones most desiring of connection and who seem most occupied with expressing it, are the
most afraid of love. So if you see someone squirming, give them permission to rest.
The problem with being a moving target, is that even the things you want won’t find you if you
can’t stay still. If you’re looking for permission to stop running: I’m formally granting it to you.
Now tell someone you love them.
Painting: Orpheus and Eurydice, Frederic Leighton, 1865
Bio: Sasha Ravitch is a writer and creator specializing in stars and spirits. She is a professional astrologer and spirit worker by trade, who periodically teaches occult philosophy, astrology, psychoanalysis, and witchcraft, while living in New Orleans and traveling frequently to New York. She casts her magic through a passion for meaning-making, relationships, and a devotion to: ancestral dead, psychoanalysis, sublunar spiritwork, folkloric witchcraft, intranquil daemons, and an affection, in particular, for Freud and Saturn.