Relational alchemy and the internal Other

Usually when we speak about the “others” in our lives, we are referring to those on the outside who we are in relationship with, that we care about, that matter to us.It’s important to attune to them and to what it’s like for them – to see the way they see, feel they way they feel, listen to what keeps them up at night, and what opens their hearts.While we each bring our own unlived life into the psychic space where our subjectivities intersect, there is also a third thing, the field itself, that has its own autonomy and intelligence, and is an equal partner in the relationship.Whether we call this the interactive field, the analytical third, or the mystery of the Friend, this one is there with us in the liminal in-between.This is the realm of Hermes, the one who guides the alchemist in her work, which is one of devotion and love – love of the materials in the vessel, and of the vessel itself.In addition to the external other, there is also an “other” who is moving inside us, an unknown piece of soul who has become split off from the totality. Just like the external others, these ones also long to be known, held, and loved.They are shape-shifters and will manifest in an infinite number forms – as vivid emotions, dream images, somatic tenderness, even as color, music, and poetry as they seek us as a vessel in which they can come alive.In this way, relational alchemy, unfolds not only with an external other but simultaneously with the dissociated figures of psyche and soma, who carry light-pieces of our wholeness and essence.It is to the degree we are able to empathically attune, listen to, feel, sense, and hold the emerging inner Other that we will be able to truly accompany those in our lives.If we’re not able to attend with devotion to the inner darkness, chaos, and contradiction, we will never be able to practice intimacy with these same qualities as they inevitably emerge in our most intimate relationships.Photo by Pietro Merola

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