Despite my full-hearted idealistic belief in love...I might also have one of the most cynical opinions of men. I believe men are good humans worthy of all the love and respect; however, I also believe that most of them are...ehm, idiots.
I don't want to believe this perfectly logical generalization about half of the world. The thought actually pains me, because in all honesty, I don’t blame men. It's just that I can see, hear, and feel their unhealthy masculine conditioning pumping unwaveringly through their veins - manifesting itself into fear, anger, and avoidance in highly aggressive and repressive manners. And as a woman, I see how that masculine conditioning not only affects me, but is infused into how I operate too.
It makes me wonder about the relationship between women and men. How can we move past the fear, anger and avoidance to better mind the gap between our feminine and masculine minds? How can we balance our feminine and masculine energies to cultivate a stronger sense of love and respect for all of us?
LOVE $#!&% SHMOVE
After my last relationship crashed and burned - in Paris of all places - I felt this strong need to understand the male mind. What I thought was a small and solvable argument became a massive mountain of miscommunication, and within 72 hours what was once a romantical getaway had become a silently solo situation. I was confused, hurt and angry. He was too. When I tried to speak to him, I was met with aggression. When he tried to speak to me, I got pretty effin’ Jersey (read: BITCH) on him. By the time we landed back in our homeland, I was broken, disconnected, and wondering WTF had happened.
After the reality of this fouled up fantasy settled in, my heart broke open enough to realize that his emotional shutdown wasn’t only to blame - I was also relationshipping with fear, anger and avoidance - too unable, scared and stubborn to communicate my thoughts.
After LOTS of introspection with a side of coaching, I began to understand my own toxic relationship patterns. Just like my emotionally stunted ex, I, too, was acting with an overpowering sense of masculine energy. My partner was just a reflection of my own fear, anger and avoidance. We were both scared, we were both angry, we were both blocked - and we were both acting like idiots.
Treading in emotional distress, I realized how stubborn, mean, and closed off I could be towards men. I was a champion at making them feel unwanted, insecure, and unappreciated. But this wasn’t who I wanted to be in a relationship, or the kind of relationship I wanted at all. I wanted warmth, affection, openness, compassion, trust and understanding. I wanted endless conversation, constant growth and sincere commitment.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEEEE?
I was curious (and tired) of my own fear, anger and avoidance - and I wanted to dig into why it was ever present within myself, and perhaps learn more about how to crack into the male mind. So I set out to create a new kind of narrative for myself - one in which I explored my feelings of discomfort around men and attempted to find my safe and familiar footing around them.
As a self-analyzer extraordinaire, I moved forward focusing on my every encounter with “the other gender.” From a connecting eye gaze to a quick coffee shop conversation to a week of camping in the desert: I paid attention to what came up for me, from my feelings, to my body sensations, to my thoughts. I paid attention to what triggered me to feel safe or shame, anger or fear. I went to various workshops, I wrote, I retreated.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
After one specific womb workshop at the Red Tent Retreat, I realized how disconnected I was from my own feminine side. Sure, parts of me are super-feminine, and yes, I have a womb, but I had never learned to connect to her, to understand her power, to tap into her intuitive essence.
I was so used to operating in a man's world, that I acted “like a man'” in my relationships, in my work, in my life. I was emotionally disconnected, scared AF, and man-eating my way through the droves of idiots who lived in a stagnate state of 21st century caveman, still focused on hunting - this time for power, sex, money, food, and a good ol’ fashioned fight.
As women, men, or wherever you fall in between, we all have masculine and feminine pieces of ourselves. The key is becoming aware of those pieces, how and when we use them, and understanding how to better balance all of our pieces so that we can feel like the most whole version of ourselves.
Since my own realization surfaced, I’ve made efforts to learn, grow, and break the patterns which no longer suit me or the kinds of relationships I want to have. Now that I'm more aware of my masculine triggers and behaviors, I know when I need to tap into my feminine side to connect with the same softness, compassion, and warmth I desire, in any kind of relationship. Of course it’s not always easy or possible; but the simple awareness has helped me communicate in a more effective manner, and helped me feel more secure as myself in any given relationship.
In many of my recent mencounters, I've realized, sadly, that many men seem stuck inside themselves, unable to communicate, share, or evolve to accept themselves or others. They are still living with deep fear, anger, and avoidance. And likely with reason - because most of them haven't had the support, space, or opportunity to connect with their feminine side in a safe and comfortable way.
THE MEN OF MIDBURN
It wasn't until I went to Midburn this past year that a big shift occurred and my perspective finally unpeeled a new, and hopeful, reality. Midburn is like the Burning Man of Israel, a week-long experience where thousands of dedicated hearts build a new kind of city, home, and community in the desert based on 10 principles. My first two years at Midburn, I had gone as a free bird (if I'm channeling my F), or a lone wolf (If I'm channeling my M). Either way, I went on my own, camped on my own and experienced it on my own.
This past year, I joined a camp for the first time, and met an incredible group of humans along the way - including many man souls who not only supported and cared for the camps and community, but were open, authentic, and to the best of their ability, created a safe space to call home amidst the deep and dusty desert.
So where was the shift? It was the first time I encountered a collective of men who were open, respectful and real. Even the super beautiful ones - who I cynically yet instinctually tend to tag as “douchebag,” were stunningly soft, sensitive, and receptive.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Of course I know good men exist. But I had rarely met so many in one space who were emotionally connected, communicative, and vulnerable - and made me feel safe to be just as I am.
I had finally been greeted with this amazing new reality - these men are good. They just need the space to be.
These Good Men of Midburn woke me up to the fact that not all men are power-driven creepy AF sexual predators who live with no awareness or consideration for how they impact anyone who is not them. (Though, #realitycheck, many still are.)
The Good Men showed me that there is a more balanced breed evolving, willing to let go of ego and competition, to care about more than their own status and satisfaction, to honor all sides of themselves, who desire to belong to a community, and learn how to just be human.
While the majority of men may fall somewhere between the two extremes of caveman vs. connected, it’s refreshing to know how many men are choosing to evolve, adapt, learn, talk, FEEL, and explore different sides of themselves. And how Midburn creates a safe space of love, compassion, and acceptance for them to live out loud with their masculine fantasies, while also getting in touch with their feminine energies.
I wish every man, woman, child, human, has the opportunity to be nurtured as such.
A FEMINIST CONFESSION
AND so here's a confession from a jaded, strong, independent feminist - which is admittedly difficult to even type out…
Perhaps as women, we spend too much of our time and energy demonizing men, instead of seeing the good waiting to grow within them. Perhaps if we women tap into our feminine sense of power, compassion, and warmth, we will cultivate more flames of the soft, compassionate energy so necessary in our world today.
We women often bitch and moan, and protect and guard (mostly with plenty of effin’ reason to); however, like the downward spiral we slide down when we negatively dwell within our own minds, maybe we're also getting stuck in that spiral when it comes to "the other gender," or better yet, our potential partners, lovers, or friends.
I'm not in denial about how jaded I am/was. I've experienced and heard too many horror stories about men who consistently force me to meet the reality of how toxic masculinity affects their human behavioral patterns. Their actions are brimming with a pent up, inner-childish need for love and acceptance, and affect every surrounding individual in this worldwide web, me and you included.
But we must remember. Men are good. Men are kind. Men desire love and connection, even if they don’t always know how to express it in a healthy way. And yes, sometimes they are idiots - but aren’t we all? :)
If we focus in on the douchebags, we will keep finding (or electing) the douchebags. If we trust and believe in the good men, we will find them just when we need to.
Like women, men are a product of our patriarchal society. When we hold so much blame for the other, it's only holding all of us back. We must release the blame, accept the reality, and move forward to create positive individual and intentional impact.
Perhaps as women, the disconnect lies in that we can rarely show a sense of compassion, warmth, and softness to ourselves - so how and why should we be expected to give it to anyone else so freely? Fack. We ALL have a LOT of learning to do.
HOW DO WE FIND THE BALANCE?
Women and men are different, period - but all of us have a feminine and masculine side. The feminine is often emotional, complex, and intuitive. The masculine is often logical, simple, and solution-oriented.
If we learn how to acknowledge and bond our feminine and masculine energies in a positive way instead of battling or resisting them, we create balance within ourselves, and enable a radical shift in our relationship paradigm.
Which side do you need to explore, release or welcome more of?
How to? Soften and strengthen as you can. Find enough silence to connect to yourself. Listen to your deep instincts. Claim your power in however that awakens you to move forward. Keep exploring your sides. Keep learning yourself and keep talking about it. There is nothing more satisfying than a deep understanding of yourself, your challenges, your desires, and your needs. Find yourself a safe space to be vulnerably you, someone to openly talk to, and you might be surprised at how the rest of your life changes in the best of ways.
To all of us -
May we tap in to both, all, and every single one of our sides.
May we create safe spaces for each other to feel loved and accepted unconditionally.
May we enable each other to openly communicate ourselves without fear of judgement, only with the simplicity of understanding just how complex we, me, you, us, are.
May we actively engage with one another with mutual respect, compassion and humanity.
Cheers, love, and oh so much shine to you.
Interested at what else came to light at Midburn?
Read my Midburn Mini Series on: