In Gratitude for the Men

I wrote several months ago about my love of fierce women who, when asked what kind of animal they would be, say predators–birds of prey, wolves, lionesses, dragons. Here’s the thing: we want to be seen in our power and in our vulnerability. In our ferocity, our strength, and also our profound tenderness and need for intimate connection, love and validation. Sometimes it feels like an impossible task to find men who can hold both.

I have intimately known the fear of “being too much” and felt how that curtailed me in my relationships with men. I have had friendships where unspoken attractions created avoidance, embarrassment and humiliation, and ambiguous connections with poorly managed erotics that turned into resentment, withdrawal and reaction. I’ve had full-fledged relationships where my sexuality was too big for the relationship and where I disrespected my own nature and put parts of myself away in order to be the “perfect partner.” Never again!

I have felt the rage of having my boundaries repeatedly crossed and the shame that is put on us as women who seek their own sexual agency and power in a culture that does not support powerful women. I had to do my own healing work and will be on that path for the rest of my life; along the way I realized how that general distrust of men has blocked me from having deeper friendships with the ones I wanted to be close to — free of self-patrolling and the fear of ‘giving the wrong impression.’

Along the way I have gotten to sit in council with men and hear some of the burdens they carry: the isolation, lack of emotional permission, the fear of their sexual energy being seen as creepy, and a lack of modeling about how to be in their power in a healthy way. The scripts we have been working off of have done us all a huge disservice. Sometimes it feels like these wounds can never be resolved.

But what if resolution is not a fixed state, but an active, ongoing process? Every time I state a boundary and you respect it, I feel that you affirm my strength. I am so blessed to have men in my life who appreciate my confident power and who affirm the parts of me that are also vulnerable, needy, emotional, and insecure — parts that didn’t get validated earlier in life. Your compassionate witnessing, your understanding, your *letting me just be me and not needing anything from me* — these are a healing solvent that relaxes the tough, corroded places around my heart. I know it isn’t easy to come closer and let me see your vulnerability, in turn. But thank you for doing it. These simple acceptances wash over me like water and help to clear away the inner conflicts that once felt unresolvable. And we are doing it together. Together, we are imperfect. And we are resolving.