Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The other day I reunited with an old flame. We haven't seen each other, physically, for at least seven years. He took me to lunch at a Chinese restaurant.
At first I was shocked to see how he'd gone from dark hair to gray. But what was more jarring was how he'd mellowed out -- from a trendy mysterious bad boy full of hubris, ego and attitude, to a stable father, a responsible, caring, loving adult.
Having a child cracked his once guarded heart wide open.
Last time we were together, I was a hard driving corporate executive and focused most of my energy on my career and acquiring stuff, including a house worth almost a million dollars. I was living an inauthentic life that was about materialism and doing the things society tell you to do, rather than following my heart.
I was stuck deep in my masculine, and it was turning men off.
Like most women, I longed so much to be in love, to surrender to love, but something inside me didn't trust that a man would ever be able to provide and take care of me. Basically, I was trapped in the lonely paradox of modern feminism -- the modern myth that I was better off on my own than wasting any time daydreaming that some knight on a white horse would scoop me up and whisk me away to a happy family and a picket fence.
I always wondered, "wasn't there something in between these extremes? A partnership where a man and woman could team up and co-create a business or work of art together? Why did the woman always get stuck in backseat, as the woman behind the man.
There was a powerful attraction from the minute we met -- and I ran from it because a lot of the things he was into at that time (from alternative music to astrology and metaphysics) were just way too out there for me to understand. I took off on a trip overseas for the summer.
While I was gone, he married the next woman he met -- and not long after that, here was one of the baddest bad boys I've ever known, holding down a corporate executive job, raising a child, and buying a house.
For most of those 7 years, I've been in and out of relationships. One lasted a few years and we got engaged. But the relationships that followed were painful, hurtful and even abusive experiences that left me with thick layers of scar tissue and an ever-growing distrust of men.
Seeking the love inside that I wasn't finding outside, I delved deep into a spiritual journey that has involved tantric healing work, workshops and therapy, shamanic journeying, the artistic underground, yoga, meditation, raw food... I focused on the external too--paying thousands of dollars for skin treatments and the best hairstylists, new clothes and makeup.
I went way out on the edge, just about as far as you can go in search of erradicating whatever it was inside me that was making me so unlovable. Little did I know that it was my aggressive, competitive inner masculine that was turning the guys off. Once all about material striving and black pinstripe suits, I dove deep into the murky waters of the sacred feminine mysteries.
I started dressing like a goddess. I learned to dance, sing, perform, give a massage, move energy, surrender to bliss. Some people called me a Dakini. Some people thought I'd lost my mind. But sometimes you have to get lost in order to find yourself.
As I sat across the table over lunch, he cracked open a fortune cookie.
It said: "A good friend is the best mirror."
It struck me as painfully ironic -- now, here we were, 7 years later - strangely closer to each other and with more common ground than we had when the journey began. My rock found a kite, and started to fly. His kite found a rock, and became more stable.
Sadly, his marriage was destroyed, to a large extent, by his wife's ardent feminism and controlling behavior -- which included her insisting on driving all the time, working while he stayed home and cared for the kid as a house husband, competing as an athlete, and finally, spending most of her free time on a spiritual path that severed their last thread of common ground.
We might also say that perhaps my friend also lost his core masculine essence as he took on the feminine role, and that his wife overcompensated with her growing masculinity and competitiveness.
It is especially ironic that such a physically large and strong man, a man who is like the very essence of masculine, ended up so "pussy whipped". And it's ironic that a woman would knowingly choose a radical iconoclast as her partner and then try to suck the life out of him and turn him into a striving conformist.
The other day I wrote to him:
"I think it is very sad that women so often cage the wild creature they were first attracted to. And then once they have him in their lair, subdued, emasculated, slaving away to the domicile, firmly tied to the bed with velvet ropes, they start complaining: "What happened to the man I fell in love with?""
He wrote back: "I am pinching myself."
As a hard driving career chick who was comfortable in the company of Ivy league CEOs and sitting in board meetings, I lived in the world of men all day long. In relationship, I tended to choose very soft, physically small and efeminite men, or men with long flowing hair, earrings and peacock wardrobes.
Often I picked men who were weaker than me financially. I didn't see that my own feminine defecit was forcing me to be with feminized men in order to find that natural yin/yang balance that all relationships seek (including g`y ones). For example, there's usually a "butch" and a "femme" in most lesbian partnerships, and a more financially or sexually dominant and submissive partner in gay male couples.
Now that my journey had softened me up, healed the wounds that made me mistrust and thus need to control men, made me more comfortable with my divine feminine essence, I could relate more to the wisdom in allowing the yin/yang of masculine / feminine polarity take over -- much as Ginger Rogers let Fred Astaire lead her in the dance.
"I did everything he did," Ginger said, "Only backwards and in heels." If Ginger didn't follow so gracefully, she wouldn't be supporting Fred, and neither of them would succeed in the dance.
I was feeling more comfortable with the idea of being with a masculine, powerful man, and letting him set the pace of the relationship, letting him pursue and lead. And with the idea, eventually, of relinquishing my lonely independence and allowing myself to be interdependent someday.
Writer and relationship guru David Deida talks about striving, ideally, for "interdependent" (rather
than co-dependent) relationship between men and women, and the balance
of masculine / feminine energy. Interdependent relationships the next step in the evolution of relationship. Deida says they are extremely rare.
Along that theme, Laura Doyle wrote a controversial book, "The Surrendered Wife" a few years ago that advises women to let go, become more feminine, and let the man drive, make the financial decisions and take charge.
I'm looking forward to relaxing and seeing where that takes me on the road to the interdependent relationship that I know I'll find someday, if I can just learn how to shut up, surrender and let him drive.