September 17, 2013

For the Love of Men.

I trust in the messages that come to me during both waking and sleeping dreams and find that they speak to me in both literal and symbolic language.

Vivid dreamscape lingering from a few nights ago.

I was driving a mini-van and had parked it on a city street. The front fender was falling off and I went inside to call someone to repair it. The blinkers were left on, so it wouldn’t be towed away. When I came out, that’s exactly what was happening! A man had my vehicle hitched up to his tow truck and no matter what I said, how much I protested, how convincing I attempted to be, he proceeded to take it away.

He told me it would be in a lot of a motel down the street. I asked how I would know the location to which he was hauling away my wheels. He replied that it was the one with the $39.95 a night sign in front. My guess was that it was  a ‘no tell motel’ that was rented by the hour. I walked there to get the van and retrieved it. I don’t recall any exchange of money, I was just given the keys back.

I got into the van and as I was driving,  I backed up and ended up hitting a pole and denting the back of the van and damaging the bumper. I groaned in frustration.

When I woke up, I heard the words “Protective male energy.” It made sense in the context of the dream, as bumpers and fenders help protect the vehicle. It also resonated since throughout my life; I have both craved male protection and pushed it away.

My father was incredibly protective (sometimes to an extreme), nurturing and supportive throughout my life and I have yet to reproduce anything that even comes close; (not that I have a daddy-complex).

What does ‘protective male energy’ feel like? In its healthy presentation, it would seem like a warm quilt into which I could curl, a solid and steady heart beating from a chest into which I could lean, a ‘got your back/I’m on your side’ sense of support in the face of challenges and trials, a reminder that I can trust that all is well, that I don’t have to carry total responsibility for everything all the time and can share the load.

It would feel like a soft place to land, since I have been that for others, a reminder that I can be both soft and receptive/strong and resilient, rather than being perceived as weak and fragile.

A knowing that it really is safe to be me in all my morphing forms.

I am blessed to have had and still have many wonderful men in my life; some have been lovers, others platonic friends. A few have encouraged me to surrender, to soften, to allow myself to be carried, supported, cared for and nurtured.

I was able to do that in bits and pieces, since it was so outside my comfort zone. Those who are part of my circles now would be there for me in heart beat if they could and if I asked.  That’s the key that starts the engine. I have often been reluctant to ask for support, since I reasoned that I didn’t want to impose, didn’t want to feel weak, didn’t want to relinquish my role as caregiver, go-to person, didn’t want to admit that I had needs, didn’t want to feel as if I couldn’t take care of myself, according to my feminist sensibilities.

I am doing that more often and gratefully, I acknowledge that they are willing to be there for me.

At the core is that I didn’t want to feel vulnerable since my fear voice spoke up and said that if I was vulnerable, I would be taken advantage of. Where did that come from, you may ask?

From my overprotective father. When he saw me crying over the ending of a relationship, he would encourage me not to cry, citing those lines. I suspect that it was more a case of not knowing how to comfort his adolescent daughter.

Needless to say, I survived all of those breakups with my heart still beating, if only a little ragged from the experience.

When I consider my romantic relationships, beginning back in my late teens, I always felt as if I was the one offering that protective energy for my partners. I was the one who could hold space for whatever they needed; at least that was my intention. Again, that snarky, snarly voice reminded me that if I didn’t, of what use would I be?

In an attempt to experience love, I often sold my soul.

In my nearly 12 year marriage that ended physically when my husband died in 1998, he took care of the ‘details’ of managing our business and home; since he had been in that role in most of his professional life prior to our meeting,  and I took care of the emotional  component on both fronts. Not sure whose job was more challenging.

As I am, all these later, coming to terms with the baggage and detritus from that which was formed of unresolved pain, anger and grief, I have ‘ended’ the marriage spiritually and psychologically as well. Only love remains.

Returning to the residual from the dream message, it occurred to me that in order to move forward in my life and welcome in a mutually supportive partner, I have had a desire to clear away any overwhelming thoughts about what it means to allow a man to protect or otherwise take care of me.

I have put out there to the universe that I am now willing to embrace a man who is ready, willing and able to do so. A few days ago, my wonderful radio producer symbolically placed me in a ‘group’ hug with a few others in his circle.  I was delighted and then noticed something that added even more of zip to it; they were all powerful, creative, dynamic and loving men—none of whom I have ever met in person (except him), but all with whom I am friends on Facebook.

On Sunday, I was having a heart-to-heart with a friend I met nearly 15 years ago and shared these insights with him and as I cried, (I’ve been doing that daily for the past six months), he listened intently and said that he would be willing to offer that type of support and walk through it with me.

Amazingly, I felt total ease in asking.

Today at work, after our staff meeting, my supervisor popped his head into my office and said “I really like having you here.” He has said it before and I have appreciated it, but today it rang even more poignantly.

Stopping for lunch at my favorite Chinese buffet this afternoon,  Lawrence who is the young man at the register, commented, as he always does that I rarely eat there, just gather up take out food and head back to work. “I take care of you when you eat here and I take care of you when you don’t,” were his parting words, offered with a smile. The fortune that popped out of the cookie read “To have joy, one must share it.” He certainly added to my joy today.

This story, whose author I have never been able to find, speaks to the courage I attempt to live each day in the unpredictable realm of love and surrender, now allowing myself to be fully seen, known and held.                   

A young woman was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that she had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired her heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it.

 But an old woman appeared at the front of the crowd and said, “Your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.”

The crowd and the young woman looked at the old woman’s heart. It was beating strongly but full of scars. It had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in…but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. The young woman looked at the old woman’s heart and laughed.

“You must be joking,” she said. “Compare your heart with mine…mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

 “Yes,” said the old woman, “Yours is perfect looking …but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love…I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them…and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges.

“Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away…and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges…giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too…and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”

 The young woman stood silently with tears running down her cheeks. She walked up to the old woman, reached into her perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. She offered it to the old woman.

The old woman took her offering, placed it in her heart and then took a piece from her old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young woman’s heart.

It fit …. but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges.

The young woman looked  at her heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old woman’s heart flowed into hers.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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