Strong women role models have always surrounded me.
Women who achieved, loved and shared.
My greatest influence was my mother. I witnessed her tears, her strength and her courage on a regular basis. I witnessed how each time life threw her a curve ball, she would meet it head on. Sometimes the curve ball would throw her of center and it would take her a day or two to regain her balance. But she always did. She always found her balance and rose again.
The male role models in my life have by contrast been somewhat lacking.
My father decided fatherhood was not quite for him left us in search of greener pastures. What I remember of him is drunken displays of verbal and physical violence. My mother assures me “he was a good man until the demon alcohol took hold of him.” Sadly, I never got to meet the “good man.”
I had two brothers but their role model was of course my father. They did not really stand a chance. They reached manhood believing the way out of conflict was through anger and their fists. My earliest memory of my older brother is one of fear.
As I grew into women myself, I found myself shaped by women alone. With them I found a safety that had eluded me with the opposite sex. I saw in later years that I had stopped looking for a male role model, as I did not believe they existed.
I married a man I believed I loved, but of course with my history I could never really trust or rely on him. I look back on my marriage with sadness and empathy for my ex-husband. My opinion of men was so very low, he would have needed to be Jesus or Richard Gere to have stood any chance of changing it. I think somewhere between our eighth and 10th year he realized this and started to make his exit.
And then I had my son.
I realized I had to begin to deal with the negative views I had with men or risk giving him a belief system that would damage his spirit and his self-esteem.
It was easy to see the beauty in my son. I did not see his gender—only a completely venerable and perfect human being. But the love I felt for him led me on a road of forgiveness. I saw the child in my father instead of the drunken alcoholic; I saw the softness in my brothers instead of the violence. They were once innocent and venerable. They had just not met the right man that could show them how men were supposed to be.
The forgiveness of course did not happen overnight and did not lead to any reunions. It merely gave me a sense of peace. It is something I work on even now when I find myself drawn back to a sad and unpleasant place.
My son is now 12 and our journey together has been rich and rewarding. It has been a journey of discovery. My love for him has allowed me to see how wonderful and sensitive men can be. How giving and kind. How their strength can be used with softness. How they can make me smile as well as cry. How they can bring me joy as well as pain. My son has been my role model of how men really are. He has been my re-education.
I am a mother, a lover and a yogi. I love the sea, the surf, the rain and the wind. I am a student of life and a lover of dreams.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel