An Unhealthy Continuum

Me: My husband was angry at his parents and couldn’t express it to them. I came into the relationship pretty naïve and believing in love. I believed that the woman gave all and if it didn’t work, it was her fault. My mother said so… It was my responsibility to make it work. All he had to do was sort of come home. If he was going off and getting drunk once-a-week, I was somehow to blame. I wasn’t enough in some way.

Daniel: Sounds like the mother thing, doesn’t it?

Me: When he came home falling-down-drunk, I cleaned up his vomit and got him to bed.

Daniel: And no one called him on his shit!

Me: He’d say “I had a goodtime and I’m going to do it again.” His response left me nowhere. I didn’t think I could leave because it was a value of mine to make this work. I didn’t have confidence that I could do it on my own as a single mom.

Daniel: You didn’t have the background. Didn’t have a model. A man has got to become conscionable. (with conscience) The woman isn’t aware that she is coming from the role of the mother. It’s her intrinsic nature and she’s comfortable in that role. The ungrown man, as most men are unconsciously, regard themselves as immature probably or young or sons. When they come into conflict, the man, on the emotional level, is dealing with quite a lot of immaturity. A lot of it is about men not being in touch with their feelings which is very opposite to the woman. Basically what you’ve got is a no-win situation. What you’ve got is a perpetual continuum.

Me: Wow

Daniel: The mother-child continuum.

Me: That’s discouraging

Daniel: It’s very discouraging. You ask what can be done here? It’s very necessary for both the male and the female to be aware of their intrinsic selves.

Me: That’s apart from their gender self.

Daniel: The intrinsic self as an energy, the intrinsic self as what they are representing in terms of light energy in the world.

Me: When you say intrinsic self, are you saying the higher spiritual self or are you saying the feminine that wants to mother and has to mother?

Daniel: Yes, I’m saying, going along with what Vitvan says, the woman realizes that she is intrinsically a representation of the world mother and she gives substance and form to life including the guy that she’s with. Contrasting the intrinsic self with the role-player and we’re all playing roles. We don’t’ know our real selves. That’s where the conflict is within the self and between the two.

Daniel: What is the male function on its highest level? As opposed to I want you because your sexy, I want you to mother my kids and/or someone to take care of me.

Me: I want you to go to work everyday and bring home the money.

Daniel: The woman sees herself as an independent being…the man as the breadwinner and she doesn’t necessarily see herself as going out to work. She is able to pursue creative interests.

Me: The self-worth factor has to be there. The thing I had to learn when I was married and to consciously bring into my awareness was that I was deserving. I had to say this to myself daily. I am deserving! By virtue of being born, therefore I am deserving. Deserving to become who I am. Deserving to be a whole person. Deserving of love and respect and appreciation.

Daniel: Both retain their independence and growth. She’s not a slave. She has the time, space and money to pursue her self-development. If they decide to have children and she chooses to stay at home, that is supported.

Me: In a better world this is revered as a sacred task. Honored by herself and the patriarchal society. It’s not looked down upon as “I’m just a stay at home wife or just a mother or just an anything.”

Daniel: As the mother, they provide everything!

Me: That’s true, but the economics of this society doesn’t know that. I’ve heard that in some European country, Sweden? they pay the women to do the work of mother, home, creating that environment. it’s viable work. She receives an income. I don’t know what the amount is, but it’s somehow recognized. In this culture, it’s not valued or monetarily rewarded. In order to have an equality, a monetary or some sort of system that honors this worthy task has to be in place. Because we can all say that it’s a sacred task, but the reality is that if she becomes a single mom, then she’s out there trying to find and do a lot of jobs to make ends meet.

Objectification

Years ago, my ex-husband took me to see a performance by a legendary woman stripper. Her name was Tempest Storm…she was from my parents’ era. “Do you remember her?” I asked Daniel. He wasn’t familiar with her.

Me: She was popular during the fifties, sixties and into the seventies–dubbed “The Queen of Exotic Dancers.” She was a burlesque star and also starred in a few films. I think that she was in her late 60’s or early 70’s when we went to see her performance. She had long white hair. Her skin was translucent-white; she was famous for her milk baths. Her image was projected onto a larger-than-life screen behind her as she stood on the small stage dancing and doing her act. The whole two hours, I couldn’t stop crying. The tears flowed and flowed. I tried to muffle them…but I couldn’t. My husband didn’t know what to think. Nor did he offer support or comfort. Years later, I realized these weren’t my tears. They were her tears that I was crying. I didn’t even know her! Here she was still performing, both beautiful and objectified…a body.

No wonder those tears couldn’t stop, I was feeling her. This was an empathic response from within me. Nothing about the mind.

Daniel: That is the attunement that you have with certain people. You’re very sensitive to frequencies and to being impacted. You are susceptible, vulnerable. This sensitivity is pushing you to self-mastery to control the frequencies that you surround yourself with–discernment and knowing so that you won’t get blasted.

Me: Yes, otherwise I’m buffeted by everything. I need to find ways to maintain my balance no matter what is outside of me. This all somehow has to do with mother, my mother in the care home, my daughter giving birth, this woman dancing–objectified woman…somehow it all has to do with woman or some aspect of mother. How do we bring honor and reverence? It’s the same old stuff–bringing honor to the World Mother if you want to call it that. Why do we have so much objectification of women in our society?

Daniel asked me to explain what I meant by the word objectification. Steeped in this view of woman across the world and over time, it might have been difficult for Daniel to see outside of this box. The idea of woman as an object of desire and that there is no person beyond that…no intelligent, wise, funny, flawed, wonderful whole person.

Daniel offered the term depersonalization rather than objectification. (I recently looked this word up and his word isn’t the correct one for what I’m intending.)

Me: Playboy magazine is another example of what I mean by the term, objectification. Glossy images, a centerfold displaying a woman’s fully nude body as if that is all that she is. They give a little bio to the side…but there is no sense that she is a woman of depth with emotions and with her own thoughts. This fantasy version plays into the psyche of men (and women). Women are seen primarily as objects of desire. If she falls short of that glossy perfection, she’s failed. If that’s all that he wants in a woman, he isn’t truly interested in her wholeness. That’s what I mean by objectification. Such objectification shapes a woman’s self-perception and a man’s perception of women.

Daniel: The object of desire. Hollywood has done a tremendous amount to support this idea…it regards women as inferiors…now that’s a topic to discuss…how men regard women as inferior. The predominant male attitude towards women. Why do men behave in a negative way towards women? Because they regard them as inferior.

The Personal is Universal

These conversations get intimate and we weave in and out of the personal and address universal themes. We are trying to be authentic. We considered whether or not these conversations might be something that others could relate to.

Are these perhaps the conversations that we would have liked to have had with our intimate partners in the past, but they didn’t happen? They couldn’t happen.

Daniel: What does the picture look like so far after three sessions. The old paradigm and the new paradigm we’re trying to create. The old one of not talking, not coming to the table. The new one is us coming to the table and talking. I feel that this is what we’re doing here. A new paradigm for a partnership. Both have to be into their self-awareness, self-honesty so that they can talk.

****
Our conversations were highly stimulating and there was never a lag time during the hour plus that we talked. These were serious topics, but sometimes, the humor would slip in. Once I was so sure about something that I wanted to say. Daniel’s focus was on me and I totally spaced it. I started laughing at myself. Daniel wanted to know what was so funny. He assumed it was about him or something that he said. I had to explain that I was laughing at myself. Humor is so important, isn’t it. Not taking oneself so seriously all of the time. I need to remember this.

Me: A person has to be sufficiently open and aware. We have to reach a certain stage of self-honesty. I agree with you that bringing it to the table and dialoguing is part of the new paradigm. It’s not so easy when a couple is deep into a relationship to have these conversations. Egos get in the way, old unconscious patterns get in the way, fear or anxiety. These conversations would be different if we were established in a relationship. It’s a different dynamic when a couple is living together.

Daniel: We separate at the end of the conversation…we have space. We process what was said after we part company. Have you found that sometimes you can talk more freely and openly to a stranger? It’s because we’re in the same frequency…that we’re able to share with a total stranger.

Me: Sometimes I share something intimate with a stranger and afterwards I’m shocked–how could I share that with a stranger!–as you said the frequency is there.

Daniel: We’re not total strangers. This is the most contact we’ve had. There’s been a buildup of trust and comfort. My relationship with you has always been one of a very even keel. I never attacked you. I never put you down. I’m a little erratic at times. Instinctively towards the very beginning, I felt comfortable, easy-going, support, you pulled out my good qualities. It’s the frequency thing…this is flowing as it is. Unlike, Fiona, (a friend of Daniel’s) it was hostile and aggressive until we got to know each other better.

Me: If it feels uncomfortable, it’s good to voice that too. There’s more that charges me around this and makes me feel this is really worthwhile. I honor what we’re doing here.

Daniel: You need to be around a male that is comfortable for you. Safe. As opposed to not. We don’t have stuff with each other.

Everything Daniel says doesn’t have to send me into a reactive place nor does he have to be triggered by whatever I say.

****
In a long-term relationship, how does one initiate the conversations that are wanting to be held? When talking hasn’t been at the forefront of relating, where do you begin?

Body, Soul, Psyche, Personality, Huh?

I am a body-oriented woman in that I receive insights and feel experiences through my body. The most recent dramatic example was two years ago when my thirty-eight-year-old daughter had her first (and only) baby. My daughter has a learning challenge. After she gave birth, she needed coaching in nursing her baby. I was with her five days in a row trying to instruct, guide and support her. My own body started reacting to the intimacy and necessity of the circumstances . Everything that happens to a woman when she is a new mother preparing to nurse her baby, started happening in my body. I had gone through menopause a few years before this. So when my breasts became swollen and tender, I thought Oh my God, this is awful! I, of course, left the nursing to my daughter (who soon thereafter opted for bottle-feeding)…but my body was preparing to nurse. I live a long distance away and once I returned home, it took two weeks for my body to return to normal. I perceive things with my whole body not just my head.

Hearing this, Daniel admitted to not being in his body. “If you’re cut off from your feelings, you’re cut off from your body,” he said.

Daniel: I want to say this, not to change your mind. We don’t feel through our bodies. I know you think that you do, but you don’t! Our bodies are primarily vehicles of action. It’s all in our psyche.

Me: Do you think that’s more true of men than women?

Daniel: “No,” he said emphatically. “I think it’s a basic fact.”

I was beginning to doubt myself, my own experience. I ruminated “I don’t know,” I said with some hesitation.

Daniel: We have not so much a personality. People think the personality is in their body…personality is on an etheric plane and the body is a representation of the consciousness of the psyche.

Me: I think personality is the face that you bring into the world to meet other people. It’s the face we show to others. I perceive the psyche as deeper, soulful. I think the experiences of the body influence the psyche. My body has informed me of things.

Daniel called this persona. He’s referring to the Vitvan (his spiritual teacher’s) sense of things.

****
Words can confound. It is hard to have clarity when we have differing definitions for the same words. How we individually define words, our deeply-held perspectives that are expressed through fallible words, can cloud what one says and how another hears it. And, yes, we can be triggered when there isn’t a meeting of the minds and not even realize it. We hit a wall and it was so noted. Do we stop here or go forward?
Agreeing to disagree?

****
I won’t be talked out of what I know from my own experience. My own experience is not hearsay or something I’ve read. My own experience is firsthand. And I know that my body gives me information. It tells me when I feel threatened; it has its own wisdom; it shares deep truth with me when I am tuned into it. When I mentioned to three women during a conversation yesterday that Daniel had dismissed the experience of my body as being a reliable source of information, they nearly fell out of their chairs! So, it’s not only me who senses through her body.

Then, Daniel repeats that we’re not in our bodies…”the false premise is that you think you’re in your body…it’s almost like a robot…”Daniel walk across the room, pick up this thing…”

Me: I feel different as a woman. I feel that my body is a guiding force and that it informs me when I listen. Because of my body I feel very connected to the earth. I notice how much that connection nourishes my physical form and all of the other parts of me as well. I could say that everything is ethereal or illusion in some way, but there is a solidness in my connection to the earth.

Suddenly, Daniel gets it. He seems to understand where I’m coming from.

Daniel: Yes, yes this is good stuff…it’s the fact of the World Mother again! Substance. I’m a male–mind, mind is not body per se. You’re going to think along the lines of your intrinsic nature which is the World Mother.

Feeling Anxiety, Are We?

Daniel: The date is September 15th, and this is our fourth session together. Ms. Christine and Mr. Big Mouth because he just listened to the tape again and last week he said he’d tone it down somewhat, well this is not true. (I laughed.) I mean there’s a certain enthusiasm there but I say a little too much. I think particularly when you are talking. It’s not an interruption of your energy because that would be awful. You know what I’m saying? It’s a support but I’m loud and I’m kind of consistent.

Christine: I noticed that too but it didn’t make me stop and it was sort of like a comment that was supporting what I was saying and motivating me along.

Daniel: It was in the flow. I got that and that was okay. That’s a basic thing anyway. As long as we’re in the right flow. Okay love.

Christine: For the last week and a half I’ve been feeling really anxious and I didn’t understand what was going on. Was it about these conversations with you? Was it about what’s going on with my father, my mother? All the visitors that I had last month? A combination of everything?

I feel an antsiness in my body. It’s hard to sit still and kind of a stress. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with this? Why is it there? Let’s say it is related to having these conversations with you…if so, then I wondered why would I be feeling this way? I finally realized something which is big. For a woman like me, with a background like I’ve had, with a father who was an oppressor…there was punishment for having an opinion and speaking out. I was taught not to know. The only acceptable answer to my father was “I don’t know.” So now I’m in conversation with you, as a woman to a man, and it’s triggering those old places in me that are probably very scared and vulnerable. I’m putting my voice and opinion out to a man and that’s a big thing. I couldn’t do this in my childhood or in my marriage either.

Daniel: Christine, that’s incredible. It’s crystalizing why this is happening. You’re now given an opportunity to voice your voice with a male who is receptive. Give me five! (laughter)

Christine: Another thing is the safety factor and that would be for any woman entering into a relationship with a man…the safety factor and trust. Self-trust–trusting myself that I am able to stand in and up for myself in the context of a relationship with a man. Trust between people develops over time. It doesn’t just happen.

Daniel: What an interesting quality to talk about in terms of men and women. How can the woman trust a man if he’s a despot? She’s in a state of fear…the opposite of trust is fear. The opposite of fear is trust. Then, a man trusting a woman…possibly on the surface he may trust her because he feels he’s dominating. Underneath, being unconscious and ignorant, I feel there’s a fear and distrust because somewhere within him he’s aware of the woman and her innate power as being the representative of the world mother.

****
At this point, I wanted to dismiss my feeling of anxiety and pick up with the list that Daniel had made after listening to the recording from last week. I do this. I minimize my experience, sweep over it and want to get onto the next.

Daniel stopped me: “Wait a minute, Christine, let’s look at this. Your state now.”

He compassionately brought the conversation back to what I’d just shared about my anxious feelings. I was going to be dismissive of it…but he made me pause. He invited me to explore it with him. In listening to this recording in present time, I felt touched. Perhaps he was listening and truly wanted to hear what I had to say.

Me: It’s affected my sleep too and I can feel the holding in my body. I’m going to see the chiropractor and get a massage. I think it’s important that I address this with you because if I didn’t bring it up, it would be present in some form between us. I took a program last year called the Yin project. One of the exercises they offered was this statement: I feel this and I need something. So today, I feel anxiety and I guess what I need is to acknowledge this and find a way to balance it.

Daniel: And trace its roots, if possible. You’ve been impacted. Impacted by me, impacted by your parents, impacted by your visitors. Impacted by your subconscious. Some old painful areas are being exposed…

Me: I want it to go away so I can carry on but the truth of the matter is that my body is having a response. I hope I’m over the worst of it and it has to run its course. I notice that my mind is much more active. It’s hard to get quiet…an idea comes and I’ve got to write that down…sometimes it hurts. I try to get grounded too. Work in the garden. I meditate on my cherry tree and how deep those roots go and how connected to the earth it is. That helps me to feel somewhat grounded.

Daniel: We’re also entering into a period of transition. It’s change of season, from summer to autumn. And, you’re around me…this is mind stimuli.

****
I’ve noticed with certain men that they can’t just hear of your distress, they want to fix you or fix the problem. Usually, I don’t appreciate this quality. I truly only want to be heard and witnessed. Daniel went into that fix it mode but he did it in a respectful way suggesting something that he had found helpful in his own life.

Daniel: I would suggest one thing along with what you’re doing. Focused conscious breathing on the crown chakra. Vitvan (his spiritual teacher) says this. Draw the energies up to the crown chakra. Raising them and releasing them on the outbreath into the causal field. Giving them back to the causal field where they will be purified. Do it anytime of the day, three or seven breaths. And then I reverse it and bring the light into my crown chakra and allow that on the out breath to flow down. Picture it as a shower head. Let it seep right through you. Don’t label what’s coming up.

****
It cannot be overstressed that for a woman who has been in danger for speaking, when she begins to speak, it can feel life-threatening. To be able to talk in a contained and safe environment with someone helps to counter that real anxiety. Although I was feeling anxious, naming it, honoring it, tracing it, deeply grounding myself in my body and then having Daniel witness it…I decided that I wanted to continue with the conversations, at least for now.

A Mature Man…

The conversations continue…Daniel and I were discussing my expectations of my husband when I was a young wife and mother.

Me: When I was newly married, pregnant a year later and when my daughters were growing up, I needed a partner, a helpmate. What I got was the puer aeternus. I do commend my ex-husband for supporting our family economically. There are some men who don’t do that. However, every structure of safety and a healthy environment in which to rear children was torn down by his drunken disregard for the sacred task of rearing our children. Not to mention his disrespect of me.

****
Now, in my middle years, I no longer need that type of helpmate. My task of being the woman who can only love as mother is complete. Now I want a mature man who can meet me as an equal and love me wholly as a woman!

Daniel chuckled and asked wryly “Christine, would you know how to be towards a mature male?”

The question seemed to hover in the air between us. I wondered out loud.

Me: “I’d like to think that I’m capable of learning…that if a man were mature and self-aware, I’d like to think that I could up-level, to grow as a result of our relationship. In a healthy way. Rather than being brought down to a level of the immature male. I’ve been there and done that.”

Daniel, noting that it was only theoretical, applied the question to himself…would he know how to relate to a mature woman?

Aha!

****
Longer life spans have created different needs and/or new desires for what a woman seeks in a relationship with a man. It’s after we get tossed from the old paradigms, when they prove false, unreliable, like the betrayals that they were that change can begin to occur. When I was twenty-seven years old, I literally vomited up the false beliefs about my childhood. I had thought I had a good childhood. I had relied on what my father had said “Your parents are you best friends.” When I began to see that my childhood was based on a terrible fiction, I became depressed. I went into the underworld. I had to go there to unearth what was false and discover what was true.

Such an upheaval can occur at any time in one’s life. Daniel grew up in Wales. His reaction to his dysfunctional childhood was to detach from his parents at a very young age, ten years old. He physically left home and school when he was sixteen years old. He had seen what marriage looked like and decided that it wasn’t for him. However, he did marry, twice. Due to his background and lack of self-awareness, both marriages failed.

****
What I needed and desired in a man when I was young and planning a family had evolved. Once that sacred task of childrearing was completed, what was I looking for in a relationship with a mature male? What I desire now is different than what I needed then. I certainly don’t want to bring up an immature male at this time in my life.

Me: When a woman says “I want a mature man, are there any out there?” I wondered out loud to Daniel.

Daniel: Is that her intrinsic truth? Does she really want a mature man? Are there any out there? There are very few as you know…

Daniel noted that when a man marries young and has a family, by the time he’s in his forties, he’s looking around for a younger woman…He puts all of that aside and starts over again…doing the Peter Pan thing, trying to stay young because now he’s got “a young chick” by his side.

****
In the past, Daniel was drawn to women that he considered to be “mature women.” He was also often intimidated by who he thought that they were–that they were smarter than him. When he came to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter, he was attracted to these focused career women. He considered them both as objects of desire and sources of learning. They represented wisdom and maturity to him. Although he was intimidated by them, he stuck it out for a period of time because he knew (even back then) that it was about consciousness-changing. When the women lost their allure to him, when he realized that “they weren’t as smart as I thought they were,” he abused them over a period of time.

****
As a woman of many years now, if I choose to be in a relationship with a man again, I have to do my own work of becoming conscious, self-aware. A mature man, one who has done his deep work likely won’t appear on my radar screen unless or until I do what I need to do to grow in self-awareness. That’s as it should be.

One thing that was probably beneficial for Daniel and me as we held these weekly conversations is that we were both clear that we weren’t romantically interested in the other. If that had been the case, I think the conversations would have gone in a different direction and perhaps not have been possible.

An Attractive Woman at the Table

…and the battle of two male egos.

I went to a garden party. There were people I knew and people I didn’t know. I sat at a table with strangers
–a man, his attractive wife and also a man I’ve seen in passing. Daniel was there too. He made a beeline to my table…not because I was sitting there but because he noticed the attractive married woman sitting across from me. The men were in conversation. Daniel, wanting to impress the woman with his intelligence and wit, anchored himself into the conversation. Pretty quickly, the conversation turned into a battle of egos between Daniel and the one other man, not the husband. If I had a recorder, it would have been a great record of runaway egos.

****
Later in the week when Daniel and I had our weekly conversation, the topic of the party came up. Daniel brought up the battle of the egos. After the fact, he was aware of his behavior at the party. However, in the moment, it seemed to me he was caught by a primal male instinct. To be the smartest male…the one that a woman might want to go home with.

Daniel: “I wasn’t hitting on her. I wouldn’t go there, but at the same time, in all honesty, I found the woman attractive and I didn’t walk away. In fact, I stayed at the table and one of the reasons that I stayed was because of her–apart from the fact that I like the sound of my own voice…” (he laughs)

Daniel admitted to feeling more comfortable talking to women.
“If there’s a woman around, you kind of focus on her, the better looking, the…you know what I’m saying?” he semi-queried me.

Reflecting on this incident later, he recognized himself and the other man as two battling egos trying to impress an attractive woman.

Daniel: “I didn’t feel for one moment that he was listening to me and I sure as hell wasn’t listening to him.”

Me: “I had some opinions that I wanted to express–there wasn’t a bit of room between the two of you for me to get a word in.” (I don’t think the wife made a single comment either.) At one point, the husband said something. The only way that I got to say one thing was to interrupt the husband, to throw my voice into the mix.”

Daniel: “Ironically, him.”

Me: “He was the easiest one to interrupt before the two of you started up again. And I thought this is not good because men need to learn to listen! Women need to be included in the counsel of opinions, otherwise nothing will change! Everyone really needs to practice deep listening and hear the other.”

Daniel: “Yes, that was all ego. It was nothing about listening, honoring, nothing about acknowledging. And it wasn’t giving service and respect to what was being said.”

About the man who was engaging this battle of wits with him, Daniel said sarcastically “He’s the teacher…we’re all supposed to listen. Screw that. And I did the same thing. I’ve got a powerful intellect. Listen. I’ve done it my whole life.”

****
I remember too well those occasions when my ex-husband, as we were being served by an attractive waitress, would carry on a flirtation right in front of me. I used to say that he had one of those swiveling necks–whenever an attractive woman walked by his head would swivel to blatantly follow her while I was present. Once, we were talking to an attractive woman and he actually scooted in front of me to screen me out.

****
As I listened to this recording and recalled the party experience, I realized how entrenched and primal certain behaviors are. I wondered if Daniel would do this any differently today. Same circumstances–an attractive woman, a man of equal intellect to engage in a conversation. I think he would have to be super conscious to change this pattern of behavior…or perhaps too old and/or too tired to rise to the intellectual battle of egos. I can only wonder. While Daniel and I were hoping to focus on new ways of relating, we decided it was necessary to bring to light some of these unconscious patterns of how men and women relate. We can’t change anything if we aren’t aware or conscious of it. So, it seems that’s the first step. Awareness or naming it.

Who’s Your Role Model?

Daniel came into our second conversation after listening to the first week’s recording with a question. We had shared intimately about our childhood years and young adulthood in the first conversation. Acknowledging that, he asked “How aware were you of the horror that was coming down while you were growing up? Did you have girlfriends and observe other ways of families relating?”

My immediate answer was that I was not consciously aware that we were different than any other family. Except that my best friend’s mother, my Girl Scout leader, was outgoing and involved in the community. She laughed a lot too–something that my mother never did. Regardless, I assumed, when I thought about it, that everyone’s family was like mine. However, there’s another component to this type of family system–the power over despotic system. Threats are in place. They are subliminal. You do not talk about the secrets that are within your family. It is a closed system. That’s it–period.

I was unaware of the degree of abuse and trauma held in my body until I was 27-years old. I vomited for two weeks straight after inwardly acknowledging that the image I held of my family as one big happy family was a lie. This was the beginning for me of the downfall of the old establishment. All of the things that I believed were true and real crumbled and it seemed like there was no foundation to my life. I couldn’t fathom what an alternative would be. Trauma from the past arose, PTSD, and I didn’t know exactly what to trace it to. What I believed was solid and wholesome was actually false. My body made me aware of the abuse and locked-away trauma.

****
Growing up as he did, Daniel viewed the marriage model as “pure hell.” He didn’t want any of that! Yet, he married twice, not having done any inner work. Each time he brought “the hell model” into his marriage with him unconsciously sabotaging both marriages. He felt that he lost his freedom and that marriage was an entrapment. He couldn’t “perform” and felt justified in looking outside the marriage to satisfy his sexual needs and desires. He had no conscience about this. He basically, as he put it, “crucified two marriages.” And, he also learned from this.

Whereas, I thought that this was the path, the only acceptable path, laid out for me. Marriage felt like my only choice. When I was 18-years old and working a full-time job, I wanted to move out and get my own apartment. My father said “You can’t leave until you are 21 or married. If you do, I won’t respect you.” There it was–the path–get married, honor your husband, have children, rear them and grow old together.

As I told Daniel, “The norm was harmful to me because I was agreeing, in a way, to being enslaved. My husband had total freedom while I was bound to a paradigm that wasn’t really supporting me.” I had to ask myself “What’s going on here?”

****
Without self-examination, we bring what we’ve seen modeled into our lives, into our personal relationships, into our partnerships or marriages. Again, Daniel emphasized the necessity for self-examination and self-awareness to evolve ourselves and how we are in relationship to another.

Towards the end of our second meeting, Daniel chuckled and said “This is turning into a therapy session, but it’s necessary background information.”

So we proceeded from there.

****
Have you looked at your own role models? Have you learned, grown and found your own truth and path?

Having Her Own Thoughts

The conversations between Daniel and myself were happening simultaneously to a great deal of drama around my parents who were in their final years. Family disruption, conflict, guilt, sorrow, continued abuse of my mom, breakdowns of my dad, struggles with siblings. This all entered into my conversations with Daniel in some way. I confided some of the ongoing story to him.

When a woman is in a relationship where she is being dominated, where she is fearful, where she can’t speak truthfully, she disconnects from her soul self, her true self. She lives outside of herself in other words.

I confided in Daniel that we brought my mother to safety, away from my father who was starving her. We put her in a safe place, a care home with eight other residents. She was there for six months while he wrangled with the administrators and social services, trying to get her back home. My mother was an invalid in a wheelchair at this time and totally dependent. My sister and I visited her regularly. She was always glad to see us as she adapted to this whole new world away from my father. My mother’s eyes lit up when one or both of us entered the room. When we asked my mother a question, we noted how she had to really stop and consider for awhile before she answered. She wasn’t accustomed to speaking for herself. My father typically answered for her or she looked to him for a nod of approval before she spoke. Now, here she was after sixty something years of marriage, called upon to find her own answers. It was fascinating, really, to wait patiently for her to decide what it was she wanted or felt or needed. My sister and I, over a six month period, noticed a certain newfound empowerment arising in her.

In a way, as my mother was remembering herself, my sister and I were discovering her for the first time. My father was able to talk to her on the phone and he tried to influence her through this connection. However, he wasn’t right there in the room. He couldn’t use his icy stare or body language to subdue her. For the first time in many years, she had a sense of safety. And perhaps, a feeling of freedom.

Two other sisters had power of attorney over my parents and, after six months, they decided to reunite our parents in another care home. I was opposed to this as I knew that the same patterns of the cycle of abuse would return. And they did. Old patterns die hard.

****
For my mother to have her own thoughts and to finally have a small opening in which to speak them was also true for me to a different degree in the conversations with Daniel. My childhood had been one of being voiceless and invisible and not feeling safe. This carried over into my marriage. Now, with Daniel, I had an opportunity to speak to a man who had once-upon-a-time been an abusive male. A man who was consciously deepening his own self-awareness. I wasn’t going to hold back. I was going to be truthful, authentic and to have my voice heard!

I noticed that during the conversations , Daniel was sometimes so eager to speak that he would interrupt me to interject his thoughts. He is quick and when you’re that quick there is a tendency not to really settle in and listen to the other person. He was so ready with his own thoughts that he didn’t allow me to complete what I was saying frequently. It made me wonder if I was really received and heard. Perhaps not. He admitted this…he was excited about the topic and he was eager to express his thoughts and insights. There was a lack of patience on his part for the conversation to unfold at a pace that felt respectful to me and my point of view.

For someone like me with a history of an abusive father and spouse, that isn’t the best way to have a dialogue. It could shut me down. It could cause me to waiver from my own train of thought. I might fade out of the conversation. I might disappear and become voiceless and invisible once again. However, recording the conversations and making a cd for both of us to review, enabled Daniel to recognize this for himself. Between our meetings, listening to the cd, he observed that he talked too much or interrupted or was overbearing. He vowed to be more conscious of that. Even with the best of intentions, Daniel mostly was true to form and carried on in the same way throughout.

Having the cd served me also in that before the next meeting, I listened and wrote down my questions and observations and was able to interject my thoughts and insights with great presence and persistence the following week. In retrospect, I viewed this less as an opposition and more of an opportunity for both of us. I also considered that Daniel and I would take away from these conversations what we each needed.

Male Privilege

What does that mean?

My sisters and I sometimes discuss male privilege. Over the course of our own lives as women, we have seen how systems favor the man over the woman. One ongoing theme has been determining acceptable social behavior by people in the workplace. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Both my sister and I experienced inappropriate sexual advances from men more than once over the course of our careers. Note that this law was passed in 1964. When I was working in an administrative position in a school district in the 90’s, the director of personnel who was in charge of enforcing the district’s sexual harassment policy made direct advances to me. We were both married. His words were: “I’d like to get to know you in every way possible.” There was no mistaking his intention.

Our society, through magazines, televisions, films etc., objectifies women. Our bodies are portrayed as objects of desire. Unconscious and gullible men and boys believe that is all that we are. When I was newly married, my ex-husband used to leave his Playboy magazines lying around. When he went off to work, I’d browse through them and wonder how I could possibly compare to those glossy images. I was nineteen and wondered if this was what a woman had to aspire to in order to win and keep a man. This, once again, was me as a young woman seeing myself through his eyes.

Equal pay for equal work is one valid point of contention. The gender pay gap still exists although according to recent studies, it is less than in previous years. In the film Made in Dagenham (England), taking place in the late sixties, the women had to prove that their labor was skilled labor. They were pretty much ignored and placated by the management of the Ford Motor Company until they went on strike. These women sewed the seats and other leather interior of the car. Their strike shut down the entire production line. They proved their worth. In 1968, the women received 92% of what the men were earning. By 1984, they received 100% of what the men were earning.

While men could advance on a job, women were not given the same opportunities for advancement. If she was young and married, there was the possibility that a woman might get pregnant and her priorities would change, therefore, she was not promoted into a position for which she was qualified. I don’t know if this is true presently…but it was so in the sixties, seventies, eighties and even the nineties.

In a nutshell, “Male privilege refers to the sociological concept that men are automatically granted certain privileges and advantages in politics, society and the workplace based entirely on their gender.” (Greenhaven Publishing) Additionally, a man’s access to these privileges could vary based on how closely he matches his society’s ideal male norm. In my opinion, male privilege is basically a class system. It allows power over…within the male privilege itself, there are layers or levels of power…white male being at the top…discriminating against men of color, men of other gender identification, men with lower educational advantages, men of poverty, etc. Women fall below all of these on the scale.

This favoritism has been a given within a patriarchal system. The underlying belief of man’s superiority and women’s inferiority is systemic and notable throughout societies and cultures.

I asked Daniel “If the world is working for the man, what’s his incentive to change himself or the way that things are?”

Daniel is at a stage in his life where self-awareness is a priority. He values his personal evolution. In his opinion, therein lies the hope for mankind. As people, male and female become more conscious, then large-scale change for the better is possible. But, how do you motivate that in men who see no need for change and don’t care about evolution. They can be the very ones with money and power on this plane at this time.

****
A journal writing from November 20, 2015
As a rule, across the world, are men less “evolved” than women? Since they, within each culture and tribe or family system, are typically the privileged ones, does it seem then less necessary for them to evolve? If things are working for them (or seem to be as compared to women), why should they choose change? Evolution? Change often comes because something isn’t working for a person, for a civilization, culture or tribe. Out of necessity. What necessity is forcing the privileged male to change?
So long as women, whose evolution has been different, allow men to rule without consequence, then there can be no immediate growth even in the face of dire circumstances which are denied or minimized or mocked in some way.

****
Do you have experiences of male privilege in your own life? Please do share them.