THE TRUTH ABOUT THERAPY

I think it is a safe assumption that every human being in the world needs and wants love. And it is also safe to assume that many of us do not always receive the kind of love and/or the amount of love we want and need. We might have had a fantastic childhood with loving parents, but maybe we were teased as children and that may have stripped us of a portion our love quotient. Or maybe our parents kinda sucked and we learned to depend on our friends, getting by, but still suffering from a deep love depletion. Either way, most of us in our adult lives have hopefully found ways to get the love we need and want, but there are always gaps and cracks lurking within our emotional topography, and love-lack is a fact of being human.

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@libbysaylor

I also believe there is a great amount of shame contained within this love-lack epidemic. I think human beings walk around all of the time feeling unloved, empty, confused, and broken, and usually believe they feel this way because they suck. Or, one might believe that everyone else sucks, but I think that is just an easier way to deal with the feelings of emptiness. Because when you get right down to it, it’s really painful to experience loneliness and feelings of not-good-enough-ness, and many people can’t really deal with this kind of pain. They self-medicate, find ways to escape, or latch onto anyone and everyone who sends the slightest bit of kindness their way. The latter method was and is my preferred method of choice. To me it makes the most sense to just reach out for love. But when we feel empty and gross and unlovable, we can reach too hard and too far and too fast, push others away, and feel even worse. Or, if self-medication is your faux-healing style, you might drink or drug or eat yourself into oblivion, leading to again…feeling much worse.

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO DEAL WITH THE PAIN, AND IT ACTUALLY MUST INVOLVE ANOTHER PERSON

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Two Clouds, Montana 2006 by Jay Wesler

I have been going to therapy for years. My father put my twin sister and I into therapy when we were five years old (we had some family trauma going on at the time). At that age, therapy was totally traumatic in and of itself and all it did was make me feel like something was really wrong. I knew something was really wrong, but I also knew that this woman (I remember her name was Nancy and she was really nice) was not really going to be able to actually help in terms of literally and physically relieving me of my actual trauma, and that is all I really wanted. In a way it made me feel lonelier and more frightened because I knew I was safe in that room, but I also knew I couldn’t stay in that room forever, and being there just compounded my feelings of sadness and fear, knowing that I couldn’t just go home with kind Nancy. I felt frustrated being taunted by the refuge of all that was Nancy. Why show me what I can’t have right now? It simply hurt too much to touch that level of kindness and love amidst all of the fear I was experiencing. Better to just forget that kind of love is even possible and work on simply trying to survive the storm. When you’re stuck in a storm, vulnerability keeps you exposed and shields keep you protected. I just couldn’t afford to feel the softness of love from someone who couldn’t save me, and I preferred to put my energy into building barriers of protection. Therefore, my stint with Nancy was quite brief.

In college, I returned to therapy, this time with a very different agenda. I no longer needed assistance with trauma, as I had survived my childhood and was now attempting to manage my life as a completely broken, insecure, neurotic, and miserable twenty-year-old. This time around, what I really needed from a therapist was a strategic method to help me obtain a boyfriend. For some reason, I had it in my mind that finding a boyfriend would relieve me of all of my painful symptoms of misery, angst, and self-hate. It seemed like a fairly logical and straightforward solution at the time. Unfortunately, I had this knack for repelling men. I was really, really good at it. They would come close, intrigued by my looks and quirk and outward awesomeness, but would quickly scatter after a short, short, short, time spent with me. Many times, a boy would bolt after one conversation. This obviously troubled me greatly and so I set out on a mission to untie the knots of my childhood, knowing my repellent nature was most likely caused by my deep-seated childhood issues. Once I could sort through my shit, find that repellent on/off switch, I could then finally land a male companion who loved me more than anything in the world, who could save me from myself, and who could essentially “make me happy.”

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Freshman year of college, 1998/99. I loved that coat.

This method worked kind of. After a few stints with several therapists, I did “land” a boyfriend. He had lots of love to give and absolutely tried to save me from myself. This worked really well for the both of us in some ways. I finally had someone tending to my needy emotions, refusing to leave me, and he had someone distracting him from his own issues. He was really comfortable playing the role of savior, allowing me to remain in the glamorous role of “crazy broken girlfriend.” I suppose after several years of that, my role began to feel more and more inaccurate and unnecessary, and my attempts at breaking out of that role with him by my side didn’t gel very smoothly. There were things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see and ways in which I wanted to grow, and he just wanted to stay put. The relationship ultimately ended and I left with a newfound mission to find myself and live a life of passion and love. I was devastated by the loss, but it was a move that we both needed to make for ourselves.

[During this period, I saw a really lovely therapist who began to gently present the idea to me that this relationship might not be serving me. I immediately stopped seeing her.]

Six months after the break-up, I found a job in New York City and moved to the Big A in the hopes of finding love, and thus, overall life awesomeness. I honestly didn’t really care that I had this kick-ass job at one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. If my life in NYC didn’t include finding and being with my soulmate, then what was the point really? Boy after boy after boy weaved in and out of my New York Life and shameful disappointments reigned. I wasn’t exactly dating during this period of my life. It was more like I would meet a guy, become instantly obsessed, try not to fuck it up, and then he would inevitably run. Or, if he hung around too long, I would push him away, even though in my mind I had decided that he had rejected me. It was a brutal pattern that I locked myself into and it lasted awhile. I went to therapy for a brief time as well but felt frustrated by her lack of useful advice and lovingly challenging feedback, so I left.

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2007-2011, NYC

After four honestly amazing years of fun, drama, excitement, and adventure, I became fairly convinced that I would probably not find my soulmate in New York. I was also longing for nature and home and was certain that I did not want to live my life as an elderly single spinster in such an urban jungle. In May of 2011 I left the city and returned to Pennsylvania.

I found much stability after leaving the city and for the very first time in my life, lived alone in my own apartment. I am still in my precious little space and it has been a beautiful, cathartic, and profoundly spiritual set of years. My space is so sacred to me, as I have made it so, and I have moved in and out of many growth and healing experiences during this time. My tribe (aka spiritual friend group) was formed since returning to PA, and I also experienced deep healing and forgiveness with the passing of my mother. I have created countless works of art in this space and have dated several men who still sucked but who stuck around a little longer than usual and didn’t suck quite as much as some other guys from my past. Progress.

Upon returning to PA, I of course continued to search for that “perfect therapist” since I was still ultimately single and beginning to lose hope. I was looking for that one therapist who could crack the code of my issues and release me from that mysterious thing that had been keeping me alone for most of my life. Whatever that thing was—I actually thought it was just one thing—I was certain that once I found a good therapist, she would zero in on that thing and help me remove it. She would swoop into my life with her therapy wand and cast away all of the mysteriously toxic muck that had been plaguing me for decades, so I could finally learn how to not be such a loser.

A PERSON’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR THERAPIST IS REFLECTIVE OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH EVERYONE ELSE…A MACROCOSM OF THE MICROCOSM

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I don’t really understand what is going on in this image, but this is what came up when I Googled “macrocosm of the microcosm” and I think it looks pretty kick ass.

One of the main issues that blocked me from receiving the benefits of therapy was my “I have everything under control” mentality. I definitely believed that I knew exactly how to manage my life, I knew what I was doing, I knew what I needed, I knew how to go about getting it, and I really didn’t need anyone else’s input. I would seek input from everyone, including a therapist, whenever I got frustrated with the shitty results of my strenuous and exhausting efforts. But I would also reject everyone else’s input, usually to their faces, and this kept me in a truly vicious cycle of control. Only when I decided to surrender a huge chunk of that control (I might have even surrendered all of it at one point), did things begin to change.

During a point in my life when I felt I was at the end of my rope, perhaps just before The Goddess* arrived, I finally decided that whenever I ask for help, whether that be through prayer, or actual human inquiry, I would listen to whatever was said and take action based on that response. This took a great amount of trust in the Universe. I had to trust that my asking was a symbolic gesture, surrendering myself to the Universe, and that whatever came back was exactly what I needed to hear, an answered prayer so to speak. I blindly trusted that the Universe was working through the people in my life, guiding me and informing me, and I felt safe and relieved to finally be taking someone else’s advice besides my own. I was essentially allowing the Universe to guide me and truly trusted that I would not be led astray. I knew my way just wasn’t working anymore and I opened myself up to the world. I surrendered my control and softened my barriers. I let love in. And it wasn’t scary. It was great and it was easy.

*The Goddess refers to a profound shift I experienced within, after deciding to snap out of my addictive “find the guy” obsession. During this shift, I created The Goddess Attainable blog and continued on my journey with a me-centric love focus.

When I met my current therapist, I thought she was cool enough, although I wasn’t always certain that she “got me.” Our senses of humor were off and I don’t know if she was always able to keep up with my emotional analyses. At a certain point, I grew tired of her feedback or style or whatever thing that I always deemed incorrect about this or that therapist, and I decided I was going to drop her. I was seeing another medical advisor at the time and I casually let her know that I was going to move on from this therapist. I trusted this medical advisor for the most part and was always impressed by her sharp and profound insight. To my surprise, she urged me to maintain this relationship with my current therapist and to confront her about some things that might not be working for me. Dread. Never in a million years did I ever want to tell a therapist (or anyone else I was in a relationship with) my actual feelings about the relationship. Best to just leave and find someone better (this pattern for me has been absurdly repetitive in all of my relationships throughout my entire life). I would have rather done anything than confront my therapist and try to like, work things out. I recall this trusted medical advisor kept using the word “illuminating.” She said this could be an illuminating opportunity for me, and she was absolutely correct.

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@libbysaylor

Somewhere along the line, I learned something monumental about the point of therapy and it has made all the difference.

A GOOD THERAPIST’S MAIN AGENDA IS TO SIMPLY ACT AS A STEADFAST SOURCE OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

My therapist is a person like everyone else. I’m not sure I like her and I honestly have no idea if she likes me. But I do know she loves me. I know that whatever I think or feel or say, no matter what, it’s okay with her. She laughs at my jokes and she roots for me. And I never before saw the value in that. I never made the connection that a person simply loving me could heal me and ready me for more love. My biggest mistake in all of my years of therapy was putting my therapist on a pedestal and knocking her off when too much time had passed with me remaining single. That was literally how I judged all therapists. Honestly, I was so broken for so many years, I just didn’t even really imagine that unconditional love was even possible. Of course, my family members love me and I have always felt supported. But even family members have agendas and biased angles jutting into their streams of love. I know my love for them is biased and full of agendas most of the time. It’s kind of normal and it takes a lot of work to love someone unconditionally. But this is literally a therapist’s job. And most of them are actually pretty good at it. When I look back on all of my therapists, every single one of them (with the exception of “The Yawner” who always talked to me about her eating disorder), was so kind, so gentle, so interested in me, and so available. Perhaps, for so many years, I simply wasn’t ready to let that amount of love in. Maybe I just wasn’t ready for the The Return of Nancy, even in my adult life. Only when I truly decided to surrender it all and open myself up to guidance and assistance, did I actually realize the transformative healing power of unconditional love.

That’s it folks. That’s all there is to it. Pretty simple actually. Go into a room with a person for about fifty minutes and just let them love you. And then go back to that same person next week, and let them love you some more. And keep that going until something changes. It will, if you let it. I wish you luck with this. It’s a beautiful thing and completely worth the co-pay.

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Detail from ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo

WHEN A GODDESS MEETS A MAN

As difficult as it is for a woman to define herself, know who she is, and feel good about herself and her life without a man; it’s equally as difficult for a woman not to lose herself, not to give away her power, and not to disappear completely when she’s with a man.

This post was actually inspired by an article featured in the January 2019 issue of Elle Magazine, “Jennifer Aniston Doesn’t Need A Happy Ending,” by Carina Chocano. The essay is short and subtle but still moving and I highly recommend that all Goddesses take five minutes to read it, as it is very Goddess-Attainable-esque. I love Jennifer Aniston as an icon (since I have no idea who she really is in real life). Over time she has seemingly emerged as this combination of real and unreal, and has in recent years become the embodiment of the ultimate single woman Goddess, kicking ass and finding her way, honestly and confidently. She simply refuses to allow anyone but her to define her, and she continues to calmly communicate in her own relaxed but firm kind of way that, “Nah, that box you want to put me in, nope, that’s not really gonna work for me. I have more important things to do than get bent out of shape over what you think about me.” She’s a grown woman.

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Image courtesy of Elle Magazine. Photographed by Zoey Grossman and Styled by Alison Edmond.

I have to say that being single was pretty easy for me once I stepped into my Goddess. I battled with being single for years and years, struggling uphill against my single-ness, filled with shame and embarrassment over every rejection, over every holiday that I was “still single,” over every woman who walked by and flashed her engagement ring in my face. I am not sure how I actually found my Goddess, but I think it’s safe to say that I just exhausted myself with feeling lousy about being single. I got into my car after a crummy date one night and just decided that I was done living such a powerless existence, and I vowed to do whatever I needed to do to transcend that way of living. I also recognized in that moment that society’s expectations of a woman’s love life are so insidiously poisonous, setting us up to feel terrible about ourselves always—and I got super angry about it, which felt super good. This blog emerged from my conscious decision to put all of those painful expectations down and to instead put myself up.

After about a year and a half of rocking my newfound Goddess energy, my relationship status shifted from single to not single, and I am now having to relearn how to step into my Goddess, only this time in the presence of a man, which is WAY different. It’s super easy for me to be a Goddess with no men around—or rather, with men kept at an arm’s length. Not caring what men think about me and unapologetically expressing my thoughts and feelings as a single woman is totally cake. I can feel pretty and flirty and confident when I am out and about with a man because I know that he won’t ever get to see me up close when I’m a wreck, curled up in a ball of insecure confusion. But bringing a man a bit closer into my Goddess realm exposes this unreachable Goddess to reveal a real woman with real issues.

How does a woman behave like a Goddess within the constructs of a romantic relationship? Spoiler alert: I have no idea and am learning as I go, so I am not going to give any advice in this post. However, I invite you to join me now while I take a deep dive into some juicy and honest exploration.

Firstly, I don’t think there is any way that a woman can discuss how to be a Goddess in a relationship with a man, without first addressing and examining honestly the nature of her relationship with the most powerful male figure in her life: her father.

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My favorite place to be was with my dad. I learned at a very early age the art of clinging neediness and was really, really good at it.

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This is me at three days old, 1979. Don’t you just love retro photography?! Not to mention handlebar mustaches.

My father was (and still is) a very positive, protective, dependable, and consistent force in my life, so one would think that I would have a built-in, hard-wired, healthy perspective surrounding my relationships with men. However, because my relationship with my mother was not so positive (R.I.P Mama, December 20, 2017), my father’s role became that much more powerful in my life and I think this imbalance threw my ideas about men super outtawhack. Unfortunately, I learned very early in my childhood that since my mother’s protection, love, and consistency were not to be relied upon, my life instead actually depended upon my father. I learned that without a man (at such an early age, I believe a girl’s concept of her father and men in general are interchangeable) I was literally, not even metaphorically, but literally unsafe and insecure. I learned that my physical and emotional security was attached to a man and that my life and actual survival were reliant upon a man’s presence. Sadly, my childhood took me through some quite literally unsafe times, and every time my father was there for me, my feelings of terrifying dependence and utter reliance on him grew stronger. In my mind, the loss of my father absolutely equated to the actual death of this young Goddess.

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I’m the crazed looking child on the left with my twinnie twin next to me.

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I have always loved fishing, or maybe just the idea of fishing, because it has always reminded me of nice times with Dad.

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He was a good dad (still is) and took us places. My lovely and beautiful grandmother would often join, making those occasions that much more magical for me, as well as a welcomed escape from the fear-filled days and nights with my mama.

So many of my years of single woman struggles consisted of me grappling with my own deep-seated tendencies to give men all of my power, often without even realizing it. I simply did not know how to unhook from the false belief that I truly needed a man. I did not know any other way to interact with a man, other than by giving him all of my power. It just happened, every single time (and still does to some extent, any time I stop practicing conscious presence in any given moment—which, who in the world can practice conscious presence every moment of the day, every day of the year?) A man would be standing next to me and I would give him my power just standing there. This could come in the form of anything from consciously or obliviously choosing to change how I was standing in the hopes that he might find me more attractive, to obsessively analyzing what he might be thinking or feeling, to any other number of insecure behaviors. Power discarding comes in all shapes and sizes and happens within an instant. And women do it all of the time. All women. Until they learn not to.

In case any woman has not been informed of this fact, I will state clearly for the record that most men really, really hate when women hand over their power. I know this statement is an oversimplification and is kind of a general and trendy sort of thing to say, but there is major truth to it. And the fact that men typically hate when women hand over their power should not be the sole reason that motivates a woman to learn to manage her power in healthier ways (otherwise, that would still be us giving them our power), but it’s a thing we do to ourselves that feels terrible and that men also happen to hate.

Unfortunately, many, many, many men are also terrified and disgusted when we as women own, express, and exert our power, even if we are doing it in beautiful, healthy, Goddess-like ways. Forget about when we are doing it in more assertive, forceful, and/or reckless ways. Most men can’t really tolerate much of that more aggressive style of power assertion in any capacity. So essentially, women are kind of set up to fail either way when it comes to the issue of power. Even my dad, who is pretty great, and pretty progressive and forward thinking in terms of female power and feminism, conveyed negative messages to me about female power at a very early age (most likely, without even realizing it). I can recall one car ride with my father when my sister and I were blasting and singing loudly the hottest song on the radio at the time, Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know. And in the height of our unbridled, emotive, melodic delight, my dad exclaimed, “Why is she so angry?!” I recall feeling angry myself about this comment and I think I blurted out something along the lines of, “Because her boyfriend cheated on her!” or “She’s not that angry!” and felt a strong need to defend ma gurl. None of my reactionary arguments assuaged my father at the time and I do believe he was actually disturbed by the song and Alanis’ intense levels of emotional outrage. He just kind of couldn’t really handle it and seemed to feel a bit scurred by the whole thing.

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Video still from Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know. Click here to watch the “angry” video and listen to her “angry” song.

Aside from power issues that inevitably arise when a Goddess meets a man, there are also those abandonment/daddy issues that well up and ooze out from the depths of the guts of most every Goddess who is practicing honest vulnerability within a relationship. I have had to unlearn in my adult life that when a man “leaves” me in any capacity, deliberately or accidentally threatens to “leave” me, or even harmlessly or temporarily “leaves” me; that those arising fearful feelings that I might actually die, which thankfully occur less and less often with practice, represent very old and deep-seated wounds that need gentle but immediate healing. And no man is capable of healing them for me. These feelings can only be healed by a Goddess’s love for herself. However, it is like a cell memory that’s triggered every time a male enters and exits our space. Enter man = Power Compromised. Exit man = Life Compromised. In many ways, being a single Goddess is so much easier because I can choose to avoid men on any given day and thus avoid having to manage any of those painful and shameful triggers. In a relationship however, there is no escaping it. Going crazy on a guy is not the best option, and shutting down and shutting off is also not healthy for a relationship. Vulnerability is required, and finding the balance between strength and softness, trying to decipher between little girl feelings and grown woman feelings, is like learning a new language. I know the alphabet and I understand how to write and pronounce every letter, but I’ve never put these new letter combinations together before and tried to make sense of them in any real kind of way. But now I must, and fast.

[Just a note that there is a huge difference between a man exiting a woman’s space within the frame of a healthy, caring, nurturing relationship; and a man ghosting a woman, playing mind games, and displaying emotionally unavailable behavior. The latter is the kind of behavior that often feels like death for a woman. If a woman feels like she might die whenever an emotionally available man exits her space, then she might have some much deeper, therapeutic, self-love Goddess work to do before she can truly be with a man in any real and healthy way.]

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Video still from Florence and the Machine’s Delilah. This song (which I LOVE) is all about Flo losing her shit over a guy, trying to cope and not go crazy, but maybe not quite capable of keeping it together on cue, and trying to manage those feelings of shame and self-disgust. This song used to be my anthem during a time when I was obsessing over a super ghosty bloke, and every time I hear it now, I think back on a former Goddess in the making, and it makes me love myself for going through that with open eyes and an open heart. Click here to watch the video and listen to the song.

I know I’m not the only woman (or man for that matter) who has daddy/abandonment issues. In our culture, we witness constantly how women do all kinds of things to manage these feelings, because when they arise, they are beyond uncomfortable to experience running through our minds and washing over our bodies. Some women, if they don’t think they can cope with the discomfort and fear, may actually go psycho hose beast and lose their shit, like Flo in the video above. Other women might come up with some kind of plan to manipulate and keep a man closer than he prefers to be. Women are skilled manipulators by nature and can often act in manipulative ways without even realizing it. In order to survive, our gender has had to find alternative means to gain and/or maintain power through vehicles other than the exertion of physical strength, and manipulative behavior is a quick and temporary substitute for true power. In many cases, manipulative behavior is way more destructive, powerful, and far-reaching than any use of physical brute strength.

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Video still of Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart. I’m a huge fan of women divulging openly and honestly how easily they can lose their shit over a guy and I identify very much with the behavior, even though I choose not to practice it. There is something endearing about a woman admitting how cray cray she can actually allow herself to get, and all the shame and self-hate that goes along with it. Click here to watch the video and listen to this UH-MAZING song.

In order to combat this complicated abandonment-power dynamic, a woman might also simply choose a man who is not exactly on her level of awesome in order to ensure security. If a woman is with a man who doesn’t have his shit together, worships her, and/or allows her to take care of shit that he should be taking care of himself, he’ll probably stick around forever if she let’s him. Her security is intact, although happiness, not so much.

The other way women deal with these fearful feelings is to avoid them all together and essentially attempt to prevent themselves from ever feeling abandoned. Women might avoid men and relationships and/or present themselves as super cold and tough, discarding all vulnerabilities. I actually prefer the psycho hose beast approach rather than this tough gal strategy. The Robust On The Outside Yet Wilting On The Inside technique always makes me think of the Bruce Lee adage, “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” I much prefer to let the unbearable fear run through me and incapacitate me for a time, even if I humiliate myself and/or risk losing my relationship in the process; rather than remain cold and shut down for long periods of time. That method always seems to lead to things like tumors, repressed emotions and explosions, and very little growth.

Goddesses like myself have learned to find constructive ways to manage these feelings of fear and it has only been achieved through arduous trial and error. Honestly exploring and sharing our feelings with a trusted soul is a very direct, mature, and useful tool to ease the process of taking all the muck churning from within and bringing it out into the world for exploration and healing. It’s almost like turning on a light in order to see that the Boogeyman doesn’t actually exist. This particular Goddess, along with other creative Goddesses like Flo and Miranda, also channel these murky lurky feelings into works of art.

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A painting I did about a guy I was losing my shit over—the same Delilah song guy who was ghosting me. I literally stopped losing my shit over him the day that I completed this painting.

I honestly don’t know if there is a way to learn how to be a Goddess in the midst of men without experiencing LOTS of loss and rejection. At least this has been my process, although as I was learning, I did not actually realize I was learning at the time. I just thought, “OMG I suck, stop doing this, stop behaving this way. How do I stop behaving this way?” And little by little, with each experience, and each hose beast episode, I became a little less psycho. Each time I would put a little more Goddess in the forefront and send a little more man into the background. And it started to feel good. Odd but good, because there will probably always be a part of me that feels comforted by giving a man my power. It’s familiar and easy, even though it’s essentially masochistic and self-sabotaging.

I have also found that the best way to heal from abandonment issues is to remain incredibly present while feeling and/or being “abandoned” in a relationship, and realize each time that I did not die like I thought I would and that I am actually fine. It’s a painful process of reprogramming those cellular memories but it’s the work that needs to be done. The level of shame about these feelings that we carry with us can feel so unbearable, but also motivates the soul to break our bounds and discover new avenues to behave in mature and productive ways. Living with the shame just gets to be too much for any Goddess to endure.

It should also be noted that a woman’s tendency to turn her power over to a man does not just stem from childhood issues. Society and direct experiences with men in the real world also play a hugely destructive part in this learned behavior. A woman’s meekness in her relationship can also be a direct and unconscious reaction to the fundamental knowing that if a man knew how strong, fabulous, confident, and fierce she truly was, he would run in petrified and repulsed horror. This isn’t some kind of delusional insecurity that women have conjured up on their own. This kind of thing actually happens on the reg. Many men actually bolt at the first sign of female strength, and therefore women innocently conclude that, “If he bolted from THAT, he’s really gonna be freaked out if I turn on the power full-blast. I better be sure to never do that. How can I find ways to never do that?” We as women know how powerful we are. We have just learned so incredibly early that if we want people—especially men—to like us, we need to find ways to mask the power that naturally wants to flow from us. As a woman, did you ever have your strength accidentally seep out in a candid moment only to notice the look of horror on a man’s face after realizing his beautiful and sweet princess was actually a commanding Goddess disguised as an agreeable and easy-going girl? I have. That look of horror is often enough to invoke deep and powerful shame in any woman. And if you are a woman like me who values having a relationship with a man, it’s easy to perform damage control and quickly find ways to reconfigure ourselves in order to be less horrifying to men. Rather than embracing that strength and saying, “Wow if you don’t like me when I’m at my most awesome, maybe I better go find a guy who can handle it, buh bye,” we instead feel wretchedly ashamed for grossing out our guy with our pesky primal power. All I know is that after 39 years of living, I would rather be alone and settle for stigmatized spinsterhood than play that game of trying to please and pretzel my way into a man’s idea of idealized dream woman. It’s truly exhausting.

relationship_dolly

So, after all of this analyzing and dissecting, what can we conclude? From my experience, I have learned that it is really important to conscientiously stay on top of our shit. I also think it’s equally important, if not more so, to be vulnerable and express softness and affection when it feels natural and good and safe, knowing that we might be rejected or humiliated, but knowing that we won’t die from it. It takes a deep and confident knowing that even if we are soft and open, we won’t lose ourselves and won’t die if we are hurt. Our softness as women endears others to be soft too and we won’t get lost in the giving if we take care of ourselves. We can be open and real and give and still be strong. At least that is what I would like to try for. Taking time for ourselves is also key. If we feel ourselves slipping, we don’t need to keep a man around so he can witness our internal (or external) meltdown. It’s not productive for the relationship and it is too easy for a man to absorb our stuff, especially if he is kind and caring, and too easy for us to release ourselves from our own responsibilities. It’s important to take that extra time and get back to our own Goddess. She hasn’t gone anywhere, she’s always there. She just hangs back until we call upon her. We must never forget to call upon her.

“Can the purpose of a relationship be to trigger our wounds? In a way, yes, because that is how healing happens; darkness must be exposed before it can be transformed. The purpose of an intimate relationship is not that it be a place where we can hide from our weaknesses, but rather where we can safely let them go. It takes strength of character to truly delve into the mystery of an intimate relationship, because it takes the strength to endure a kind of psychic surgery, an emotional and psychological and even spiritual initiation into the higher Self. Only then can we know an enchantment that lasts.” -Marianne Williamson, Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power Of Intimate Relationships