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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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?”

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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.

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

The Dowry–Part One

Have you done it?  Have you had your DNA tested to see the percentages of your ancestry?  If so, were there any surprises?

My biggest percentage was Italian on my mother’s side.  Followed by Irish on my father’s side.  Then there are the lesser percentages of surprising origins.  And the curiosity around how did that get in there.

All of this to say that a few years ago, I wrote a short story for an assignment in a Creative Writing class.  One can’t always know where their inspiration comes from or how it is going to express through words or art.  Perhaps it is rooted in the DNA and that cellular memory.  Perhaps I channeled one of my Irish ancestors.    There is some historical significance.  It is presented here in two parts.  I hope you enjoy it.

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The Dowry
©by Christine O’Brien

“Cursed we is,” Mum says, “to have so many survivin’ daughters…seven girls and one blessed boy.  If not for young William, we’d have no one to leave the farm to.”

Mum’s voice scratches like grainy sand across a washboard.

My older sister, Kathleen, is getting married in a month.  Mum has saved and put together a dowry for her and one for my second sister, Louise.  The chances of a girl getting a match are next to zero unless she has a dowry.  Kathleen says she loves James Flynn, but love isn’t what’s important.

“A girl has to have something to offer besides what’s under her petticoat,” Mum says often enough.

With a good dowry, she’s more likely to get a decent home.  She should be strong of leg too, not sickly, like my youngest sister, Patticake.  She’s got to be able to get out in the field and work beside her mate when times are tough, which times normally are.

Mum just started putting away for my dowry.  I’m three years from being 18–the marrying age around here.  Mum says she doesn’t see how she’s going to save enough to attract a mate for me.

“Chances are,” she says, “you’re going to have to go into the convent.  Father Cullen says he’ll kindly take you and your younger sisters if I can save ten pounds for the lot of you.  You’ll be provided for then and you can pray for all of us.”

“I don’t want to go to no convent!  I don’t want my head shaved!  I won’t wear those ugly black dresses and stupid veils!” I blubbered.

When I first stood up and said this to Mum, she slapped me hard.

“Be grateful you’re going to have a home and God’s own priests to look after you.  You get to do good works.”

“It’s nothin’ but slavin’,” I said, my nose red and running, a fresh welt on my cheek.

“Who’d want a red-faced girl like you anyway?”  Mum yelled.

Yelling is Mum’s forte.  Forte is my new word this week.  I’ve taught myself to read.  Mum knows I read but it’s a secret from my pap.

“A girl readin’ can make a man feel small,” says Mum.

Mum sticks the bible under my nose and points to the tiny print,
“What’s it say?” she crows.

“And why be anxious about a garment?  Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not nor spin, but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these,” I read.

“Ah,” she says, “the lilies.  Ah well they do not have ten mouths to feed, now do they?  Get back to your work,” she says slamming the book closed and dropping it heavily on the splintered wooden bible stand.

I gather my mending from the willow basket.  I’m the third eldest girl with my share of chores.  The five younger children leave me with a pile of well-worn skirts and knickers.  My brother, Willy, is the worst on socks.  Every day I stitch up the holes in a pair of his socks and every day, there’s two more socks to mend!

“Willy,” I say sounding a bit like Mum, “Willy, can’t you for once keep your shoes on and stay out of the brambles?”

Willy looks at me with a crooked grin and long-lashed blue eyes.  He slowly shakes his towhead “no.”

(To be continued)