Hunger and the Search for the Integrated Masculine
“I stopped loving my father a long time ago. What remained was the slavery to a pattern.” ~ Anais Nin
I hit a pretty hard low recently. I played it off as, “I’ve just been working too hard,” and “I’ve got PMS,” and “It’s almost a full moon,” but something in me knew I was lying.
I woke up around 3 a.m. the night before. I had had a dream, but couldn’t quite remember it. I was shivering. I had three comforters on me, a pair of pants, thick socks and a sweatshirt—and I could not warm up to save my life. I wasn’t really sweating. It didn’t feel like a fever. But something in me was stagnated. Cold. My blood just didn’t have the strength to flow. My legs were shaky and I could barely stand. I got up, put on a thermal shirt and went back to sleep.
Later, I woke up around 7:30 a.m. exhausted, but focused. I got some work done, but by 12:30 p.m., I had to lie down. After two hours, I woke up, heavy and extremely depressed. “Oh God,” I thought to myself, “What is going on? I do not have the will to even get out of this bed.”
I finally did drag myself out of my pit of depression and decided a salt bath would be a good idea. I figured immersing in the warm feminine would be a healthier way to draw out this painful energy, rather than stuffing it down with Girl Scout cookies or glasses of scotch. So there I was, heavy and silent in the bathtub, with my most depressing song mix playing on my iPod, when it all flooded back to me—the dream that woke me up at 3 a.m.
I was with my ex-husband. We were at my mother’s house in Georgia. I don’t remember what we were talking about exactly, but the feeling was like meeting a dear friend again. Laughing, sweet. A glowing warmth surrounded us. He turned his back to me and the next words I heard were not his voice, but my father’s. I was then interacting with my father in that same warm glow. We spoke for some time. Then I saw that it was nearly 6:30. The wife would be home from work soon and it was time for me to go. There was no room for the both of us.
At that point, I think my father has blended into my ex-husband again, so I am unsure if the woman coming home was my stepmother or my ex’s current partner. It really doesn’t matter who the woman was. What matters is the feeling of loneliness, the hollowness in my chest and the tight ball in my throat. Again, I had the sense of “bucking up” and “being a big girl” in order to make room for those around me.
Back in the bathtub, hot tears prickled my eyes and dripped down my cheeks. My heart cracked and a thick warmth dripped down my chest. The pressure in my throat grew to a painful, sharp ache. I tried to relax my body and breath, but there was a nausea coming over me and I had a feeling like I could not hold anything else inside of me. I heard my roommate just outside the door and quickly choked up to muffle my sobs. I was vibrating with a mix of sadness, anger and embarrassment. I was shaky and could barely breathe.
I realized that while I have been working to reconnect to my tamped down feminine, I have neglected to acknowledge my hunger for an integrated masculine. I am consciously choosing the word ‘integrated’ and steering clear of the words ‘divine’ and ‘spiritual’ because those tend to refer to a way of masculinity that tries to ‘rise above’ and ‘transcend’ the body, the mud, the blood, the anger and all other ‘unpure’ and ‘unsavory’ expressions of energy. But the feminine thrives in that fleshy, earthy world and if we try living only from the waist up, we disconnect ourselves from our raw power.
An ‘integrated’ masculine, however, knows how to go down deep, stand firm in the fire and can come back up to the surface with vision and clarity while still staying connected to the feminine. The integrated masculine does not live in shame of its feminine counterpart, but is strong enough to be the container for it, so that whatever wildness arises, it can hold it all and weather the storm. And when the storm has passed, the integrated masculine knows just the right moment to dissolve and move on to wherever desire leads it next.
Ok, so what does all this mean in the ‘real world?’ My personal brand of masculine hunger (and one to which I believe many people can relate) is an addiction to Daddy. This means seeking out men who will take care of me and provide stability in some way, either financially (the men with the nice cars and the money who will whisk you away to fancy dinners and trips to exotic locales) or emotionally (the men who are connected to their feelings and will love you and bend to your will every time). This addiction comes coupled with a level of insecurity and shame that has me dying to feel loved and approved of. So a shadow arises in which I need these men to believe that I am the most gorgeous, smart, amazing, perfect, fill-in-the-positive-adjective woman they have ever met.
Yet, when my desire meets the reality of the situation (I really don’t want to be in a relationship with these men); I end up leaving. After a while though, the hunger starts to gnaw at me again and the cycle begins once more.
The thing is, addicts tend to attract addicts.
So while I am seeking this hit of masculine approval, the men are looking to connect to their wounded feminine through me. They get to play out being the stable provider and the one who fixes all the problems—everything a ‘real’ man should be. Unfortunately then, we are all walking around relating to each other as drugs, rather than as humans, and we use the hooks of romance, relationship and porn for our hit.
It is also my belief that society feeds this addiction through selling the ever-pressing need to ‘find a mate.’ Millions of hungry women are all over dating web sites. Hungry women go to the movies and feed on the idea that ‘if only I find my soulmate, then I will live happily ever after.’
Women’s magazines (purchased by hungry women) are plastered with headlines like, “How to Hook Him and Keep Him Forever,” and “3 Easy Steps from Single to Saying ‘I Do.’”
And make no mistake—I am not speaking only about heterosexual relationships. This isn’t about men and women, but masculine and feminine. What we are dealing with is an overall dearth of an integrated masculine energy. So whether you are homosexual, trans, bi, whatever—we are all looking to fill in those energetic places in ourselves where we feel we are lacking. So a feminine-energy man may go seeking a masculine-energy man. Or, a feminine-energy woman may go seeking a masculine-energy woman. Whatever. The point is that this is a universal way of managing our hunger.
I have seen Daddy Addiction manifest in many ways. With people who had the ‘ideal’ father, they may be serial monogamists, constantly seeking out that one man good enough (and he never is) to fill daddy’s shoes. In people with absent fathers, they may glut on masculine energy through constant dating and one-night stands. Still others may surround themselves with vibrators and romance novels and fantasies (to get the feel of interacting with the masculine), but are too afraid to connect with another person.
I also believe in the past years, there has been a stigma attached to anything that is too ‘masculine,’ particularly in the spiritual/transformational world. I know many people who say things like, ‘Oh, that’s the masculine way. You are not going with the flow. You are not feeling into me. What’s with all the boundaries?” Blah blah blah.
Listen. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with structure or the masculine, just like there is nothing ‘wrong’ with chaos and the feminine. One is not ‘better than’ the other. In fact, with integration, they both support each other in ways infinitely greater than if each tries to work on their own.
Yes, as women, we have had to work hard in order to rise above the centuries of cultural shame that has come with carrying feminine energy. And there is still work to do. In the U.S., women continue to make only $0.77 to every man’s dollar. The crackdown on homosexuality, especially in males, is another example it. And of course there is the pervasive oppression, circumcision and torture of women in other part of the world.
However, blindly reacting in rejection and anger to the masculine is not the way towards healing. This will only lead to shadowy attempts at sneaking a fix of masculine energy (Daddy Addiction, in my case).
What I am finding to be true for myself is that the more I peel the layers of shame on the feminine within me, the more I can trust my masculine to support her and stay connected to her desires as we all move on the journey. So my dream had less to do with my ex-husband or my father, and more to do with the relationship with my own internal masculine, first by acknowledging and feeling my anger/grief and then learning to love and forgive that energy within me. With that forgiveness, comes relaxation and space for my authentic feminine to arise, integration to happen and internal healing to begin.
Once we have learned to cultivate an integrated masculine and authentic feminine, we no longer grip onto others as crutches or fillers for our own insecurity. We are ok with being alone with ourselves, and then our deepest hungers get nourished. From here, relationship becomes a choice, rather than a compulsion, and true unconditional love can arise—because we don’t need the person to be anything other than who they are. And however the relationship expresses itself, we can flow with that and see the conflicts that arise (because they inevitably will) not as places to project all our latent anger, but as opportunities for knowing ourselves better.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. It all sounds nice on paper, but in practice, it is tough as hell. I see all the places where I grip to a hollow masculine. I force myself to ‘be productive’ even when my body knows it needs a rest. I cling to people for their attention and approval in order to feel ok about myself. I hold myself back emotionally because I have shame around admitting my hunger. All these add weight to my bouts of depression and leak energy, contributing to my frigidity and exhaustion.
But I also have clarity and insight that would not have come had I not fully walked into the knot of my pain. And through developing this skill and sensitivity, I know who I am a little better, can express it more easily and feel more compassionate towards myself. These are the gifts of the shadow, harvested in the depths of my feminine and can now be shared with the world through language, structure and a more integrated masculine.
Editor: Brianna Bemel
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