The secret signal would be to tell me to take the kitchen knife and “cut the dog’s rope.” Then I was supposed to go out there and slash her car tire so she couldn’t drive away. That was the plan, anyways.

We lived on a defunct old country dairy farm in the rolling green hills of upstate New York, the closest neighbor a quarter mile away.

As the eldest, at ten years old, I was babysitting the other three kids while Mom and Dad went out for a date to dinner. We were free to be wild, watch television and do whatever we wanted.

I’m pretty sure it was my youngest brother who knocked over my dad’s chair at the head of the kitchen table and put a great big crack through it. Dad had recently bought that brand new kitchen table set. It was a dark stained, heavy set wood design, typical of the early 1970’s. They were solid wood captain’s chairs and a heavy set table with rounded, turned wood legs.

I was worried that Dad would be angry about the broken chair. But I didn’t break it. What could be done anyways? There it was. My dad’s chair at the head of the table with a great big crack right through the back of it.

We just kept on playing, jumping around and having a good time.

That’s when she knocked on the door. I’m going to say 5 foot 6 inches tall. Red hair, that much I remember for sure, and skin that had a matching reddish coloration to it. She was thin, not fat.

“Are your parents home,” she asked.

“No, they’re not,” I said.

She walked right in through the front door. “Well, I’m going to just sit here and wait for them then.” She walked over and sat down in that cracked captain’s chair at the head of the table.

“Ok,” I responded, caught off guard, and shrugged my shoulders. That was unexpected but, then, what could be done about it? There she was, a stranger, sitting in our house at the head of the table.

Us kids went back to playing and running around. We watched television for a while. I don’t know, maybe she sat there for an hour and a half.

The next thing I can remember is my mom having a talk with me in that kitchen, the very next day. The other kids were outdoors playing. My mom wanted to talk to me alone, as she sometimes did, when she needed a confidant to talk to.

“That woman last night was your dad’s girlfriend,” my mom said, slightly shaken and a little annoyed. “She came over here to try to take your dad away with her. Your dad’s been having an affair,” Mom said matter of factly.

Fooling around with other women was not something my dad was a stranger to. I never heard about it all that much but, then again, it wasn’t exactly a great secret either.

Mom had a plan.

“The next time that woman shows up here, this is what I want you to do. I will tell you to go out and cut the dog’s rope. You take the big kitchen knife out of the drawer and stick it in her car tire. Then I am going to call the police.”

That was the plan.

I can still recall that, as a ten year old boy, I was worried about if I was strong enough, if I would be able, to actually stick that knife into that tire and make it go flat. As a teenager, later, I would probably have called that “being man enough.” But here I was being asked by my mom to be man enough, at ten years old, now.

I carried an energetic charge with me into adulthood about “the kitchen knife”. I always felt that weird charge around my first wife; like I had to be careful to not accidentally stab her with it. There was a charge in my body about the kitchen knife and something to do with my wife.

Odd thing is that “the knife energy” never came up around other girlfriends. It never came up for me around my second wife either.

But recently, at the beginning of this new relationship with my current girlfriend, the dark “knife energy” came up again seemingly out of no where. It caught me by surprise. I even had to do some work around it with my life coach.

My first wife had a very strong personality. Our long relationship journeyed across a time from where I gladly followed her, the mature older woman, to a point in my own growth where I was no longer willing to follow and had matured into a position of leadership for myself. We had been true partners in business, family and recreation. We lived a life together where stuff got done; we made things happen.

After that first divorce, there were a number of other women that I dated and even another marriage. Those relationships, they never rose to the level of true partnership. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t willing. Something like that. Maybe there was even an adolescent quality to my dating for all of that time.

But more recently, I drew a line in the sand and said “I am done!” At that point, I was done with crazy dating and being coupled up with women with whom I wasn’t actually reaching for the “partnership” threshold.

In my current relationship, I am with someone who is equally as strong, articulate and as clear as I could want a partner to be. We get stuff done. She is a do-er. She has a long history of making things happen. We are true partners.

I take that right there to mean that I’ve grown up into being ready to have a life partner show up. I was done hiding out in places and with people with whom the “partnership” threshold was never going to be crossed.

On a deep, emotional level, having a true partner show up in my life is a scary thing. Living with and being with a true life partner is a situation within which I cannot hide. My “safety” is threatened. My heart risks being exposed and vulnerable to a person with whom there is the very real risk of going deep.

This is the kind of relationship for which I really do have to “man up”. I think that early on in this relationship, what got triggered inside of me was a little boy fear of “maybe I am not man enough to stick it in.” Yeah, there’s a sexual connotation to it. But in addition, and even deeper, there’s a little boy part who doesn’t know if he really has what it takes to step up in that way.

This, for me, is the hidden meaning of the dark “knife energy” that reared its head early on in this current relationship. Interestingly enough, with my choice to step up and open up into this current relationship, the dark “knife energy” has completely gone away. That dark energy never went away around my first wife.

There is something we can call “opening up as love” in an intimate relationship. Opening up is taking down the barriers and the defenses and letting the other person in. I am very familiar with relating to others with one arm outstretched, holding them back and at a distance. Been there and done that more times than not. There is such a thing as psychic daggers, energetically thrusting bad energy in the direction of another person. Or in my case, using a dark “knife energy” as a metaphor for keeping someone else back and at bay. My energy, my open or closed-ness, can be used to “protect” myself and keep others away.

Opening up is private work. In my experience, if I am closed down, defensive and closed off to one, then I am closed down to all and, in fact, to feeling my own heart deeply. A closed heart is a closed heart. Open is open.

Open hearted (or closed hearted) is a posture, a stance, from which I lean out into the world. The relationships that show up around me (or don’t show up) are perfectly correlated to my own posture of either openness or defensiveness.