If I had to guess, I’d say that the number one source of failure in my past relationships was the difference between my authentic sexual essence, and the essence I felt safe and conditioned to animate.
For a number of reasons – the fact that I was born in the early 1970′s being primary among them – I grew up conditioned to be a Modern Woman. A woman who wanted to build a career, kick ass, bring home the bacon, and be equal to men in the workplace. This conditioning was hard won by strong, brave women like my own mother, who blazed trails in male-dominated professions and showed that they could play with the big boys – and win. I’m grateful for their hard work, and for the benefits I’ve reaped in my career because of them. And there has been a cost.
I’m certainly not the only one to notice how, as women fought for equal ground in the world, they started to do damage to the Feminine soul because to some degree they had to actually internalize the patriarchy. Energetically, some of the Feminine’s greatest gifts became the enemy of women. It became a sort of sin for a woman to want to stay home with the kids, or be “just a housewife”, as if keeping home and family healthy and thriving was not of incredible, probably priceless, value. Beauty became a double-edged sword because we loved to look gorgeous, but it was deemed desperate to want to look gorgeous as a gift for our men. We fought for the right to have casual sex, denying our unique biochemistry and being surprised and ashamed again and again when sex created bonds of affection and caring. We belittled our femininity even in seemingly small ways like rolling our eyes at a woman’s emotional storm and muttering under our breath that she’s probably on the rag. We divorced ourselves from our cyclical nature and called it instability and took (even invented) all manner of pills to stop our flow and become “even-tempered”. We called intuition airy-fairy and demanded logical explanation. We co-opted small nicknames for those powerful, special nights when we gathered with other women: hen parties, stitch’n'bitches, “crazy lady” night. We came to consider some qualities of the Feminine, such as vulnerability, surrender, and emotionality, to be synonymous with weakness.
After all, we were trying to succeed in a world where the qualities of the Masculine were appreciated far above the qualities of the Feminine. We just forgot where we came from. We became Woman at War with Herself.
I grew up with very little regard for femininity even though on some level I also craved to locate it within myself. In eighth grade I was called a lesbian (by the boy I had a secret crush on) because I couldn’t stop staring at another girl in class who was beautiful and had long dark hair and always wore make-up and skirts with cute shoes; there was no sexual attraction for me but a deep envy of her feminine beauty, as I had no conscious contact with my own. Tall and overweight and developed too early, I wore jeans and t-shirts and kept my hair short because I didn’t know what to do with it and probably because I didn’t want to attract too much attention. That moment is obviously memorable and was a great source of shame for me at the time, but now I look back with such compassion for the awkward pre-teen who was growing up in a culture of Woman at War with Herself.
In adulthood I was successful in my careers, but relationships were always troublesome for me. I animated my childhood tomboy tendencies, becoming that girl who could drink beer and make crude jokes with the rest of the guys. At home with my man I didn’t always wear make-up or dress in ways that made me feel feminine; I thought once you were in relationship you didn’t have to work so hard. I tried not to need my partner, because I got the idea that that would be a weak move. So in attempting to be independent I often made myself emotionally alone in my relationships; as a strong woman, the occasional breakdown was a source of embarrassment for me and bewilderment for my other. When I became a Marriage & Family Therapist I carried this little thought in the back of my mind that then I’d know how to make my own relationships successful!
However, none of my professional training ever touched on what I now think was at the heart of my difficulty, my success in the work world and difficulty at home: I had disowned my true, authentic, extremely Feminine essence. I did relationship like I did work, met my partners’ Masculine with Masculine, because I thought that was what was desired. That was certainly what was celebrated in the culture. Femininity was so deeply misunderstood; all I could see were hot Maidens, tired Mothers, and lonely Crones, and I could relate to none of them. (We hadn’t yet begun to talk about the Queen.)
So I was an extremely Feminine-essenced woman, trying desperately to live a Balanced (equally Masculine and Feminine) essence in my intimate relationships but really, probably just broadcasting the confused and confusing signals of a woman who was Masculinized. I sensed this problem years before I began to understand it, but it was David Deida who put words to my experience and catapulted me into relationship with my own authentic sexual essence.
Stressing your masculine or feminine essence into a falsely balanced persona affects virtually every part of you. Many people with true feminine essences manifest a whole range of disturbed physiological symptoms as their feminine energy ‘dries up’ due to running excess masculine energy through their body, year after year, in order to fit into the masculine style of work. And many people with masculine essences, seeking to fit in with the feminine style of cooperation and energy flow, disconnect from their sense of life purpose and inhibit their deep truth, afraid of the consequences of being authentic to their own masculine core. Hence the frequent complaints about too many ballbusters and wimps.
Furthermore, when you deny your true core you deny the possibility of true and real love. Love is openness, through and through…. A person who denies their own essence and hides their true desires is divided and unable to relax into the full openness of love…. Such a person is spiritually handicapped, obstructed at heart, even though they may have achieved a safe relationship and successful career. ~ David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man
Deida’s book is written primarily for men reclaiming their authentic Masculine essence, and men have considerable work to do in healing the Masculine soul because it is also rife with the poison of patriarchy.
But as a woman reclaiming her own authentic Feminine essence, I’ve staked my claim to this corner of the work, to the work of women reclaiming their Feminine essence in intimate relationship, for probably a multitude of reasons that I don’t even fully understand yet. But three reasons beat powerfully in my heart.
1. Just as it’s easier to know light when there is the contrast of shadow, I believe it’s helpful to awaken, embody, heal, and animate the Feminine in the presence of an external Masculine who provides contrast and polarity. It’s certainly not necessary, but I think it’s helpful and…you know, most of us desire intimate relationship. All of us are sexual creatures. Some of us love spiritual practice. Let’s bring it all home, baby. Intimate partners are our most powerful teachers, and learning how to practice loving within masculine-feminine sexual polarity allows us to elevate relationship to a form of spiritual practice. It can be a sexy, hot, deep, soft, raw, vulnerable, sweet, terrifying and exhilarating daily practice of sacred loving intimacy.
2. It is time to go beyond inner wholeness and toward universal wholeness, and to do so, we (authentically Feminine-essenced women) can contribute by learning to truly love, honor, and embody our Feminine side of the playing field because our men have nowhere to play if we are all over the field! If we are animating both Masculine and Feminine energy, they truly have no room in which to animate their gifts, and while it is so important, and absolutely serves us in the world to develop our own inner Masculine and Feminine, if we show up animating both energies at home we will leave our partners very little room in which to animate any energy at all. I have seen so many partnerships become placid and soul-dead, and I think lack of sexual polarity is a major factor. Our inner wholeness does not serve the universal whole if it leaves the men with nowhere to stand and nothing to contribute. We have to give them some space to reclaim and embody the Masculine and their wholeness, or we will continue to be disappointed with their progress. (Sorry, men, but it’s true; many women are frustrated and would like you to do your soulwork because we love you and we want to walk with you but we will not slow our pace to do it. We also need to get out of your way and stop expecting your evolution to look like ours because we are different creatures and our paths do look different in important ways.)
3. This is the most important to me. We have to true this up for ourselves, within ourselves. The damage one does to one’s own core (the Feminine core within us) is the most important damage to heal, because with a strong, intact core, one can withstand all manner of outside stress without become disempowered or degraded. And without a strong, intact core, no manner of help or support from the outside will suffice. Reclaiming the Feminine within ourselves, learning to honor what is honorable and beautiful and powerful in Her, is the work of healing the Feminine soul. To no longer make small or slight our gifts. To no longer denigrate one another for choices we might not have made. To no longer seek our value through the eyes of the patriarchy. To no longer be a Woman at War with Herself. Enough.
Will you make a pact with me? Will you vow to never again devalue your Feminine gifts? To be vigilant in learning them and honoring them, in yourself and in your daughters, in your mothers and grandmothers, in your friends and in the news? And when you falter (because you will) will you forgive yourself and keep walking the path?
Will you love the Feminine soul back to life and live Her well through your sacred vessel?
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To go deeper, consider giving yourself the gift of my 21 Love Letters To Your Sacred Feminine Essence.So many blessings, Maggie xo
Image courtesy of http://omtimes.com/2012/08/the-rebirth-of-the-new-divine-feminine-energy/