This page contains thoughts and ideas about relationships and love that have been birthed out of my experiences and observations. As with anything, some ideas change as new memories are born; therefore, take it with a grain of salt.
My Life’s Purpose
I’ve been thinkin’, more like feelin’… My life’s purpose is to love. I have healthy loving relationships with friends, family, etc. I am blessed in so many ways! But don’t mistake my blessings and faith for an easy privileged life. Yes, I have created a comfortable and pleasant life for me and my kids. But to get to this point, it took stubbornness, grit, patience, the building of faith through experiences, and above all else…. love.
I share to help my readers understand my motivations, not to complain or even gloat about my struggles. It had been hard for my family… Growing up… I don’t have to go into detail. But through it all, my parents modeled faith and love… Through faith and love we crawled out of the shit that we were dumped in. Through faith and love I have forgiven those who had wronged me, those who stole my innocence, those who ripped me to pieces. Through faith and love, I have been building something from nothing for my little family. The blessings are a demonstration of my continued faith. It is God’s way of showing us that we are not meant to financially struggle, suffer from ailments, isolate ourselves from camaraderie. We have all the gifts of the King, we just have to accept them.
But my life doesn’t end when I’m “in the black” for health, finances, friends and family, self-care, and career. I want it all! Again, my life’s purpose is to love. In order to expand love across humanity, I need to share my fullness with a lover and best friend. I dream of that partner whom I adore and who can love me just as much… Who shares the mission of service: We ascend to a higher vibration of love and expand our combined love into humanity. Together helping others who are still trapped with their demons. (And of course, getting in touch with our own demons if you know what I mean…) Sharing our experiences and wisdom with others who feel like giving up. Yes, I could do it all on my own. But, there is only so far we can go on our own. A soulful partner sees our potential and lifts me higher beyond that ceiling of what I thought was possible, as I would do for him. And with our ascension… through our modeling of faith and love… All forms of Love will expand across humanity!
Maybe I am silly… But this is MY truth and authentic self.
Reflections on “Bad Liar”
I love the emotion that Imagine Dragons invokes in me when I listen to any of their songs. Bad Liar is no exception. My youngest daughter loves the song too and so when she asked me to play it on the way to her daycare, I said okay. I had never seen the video until that day… I broke down in tears…. Here’s why:
Now I’m fully aware that the lyrics speak about the adoration a man has for a woman who may not realize he cares, or maybe they- like he said- fear what may come about if they relent to love, or maybe she’s a narcissist who only enjoys his chase… I get it. But the video took me to a very different place…
It shows a woman dancing around a man who is slouched and appears unresponsive to her charms. Perhaps they chose this because he is trying to “act coy” and not let her know he loves her… Which ultimately ends in her giving up and leaving…
But I saw it in this way:
There are people in our lives whom we care deeply for… Yet these people suffer, locked in their own bodies and minds with the demons of depression. We could spend years dancing around them… Trying to just evoke some kind of response to let us know they are still in there… That there is still a chance that they can win the war!! The battle inside requires a daily or even moment-to-moment choice to repuke the darkness. (I know because I’ve been there. I grew up fighting the battle with chronic depression). For those that are “stuck,” often cannot physically, mentally, emotionally choose to get out of it. Many hit rock bottom before they can get back up. Others commit suicide… Then there are those that spend their lives, killing themselves. They commit a slow drawn out suicide over the course of years or decades.
The video brought out memories of the dance I have done around others trying to bring them out. While they just stand there. Yet it seems that it doesn’t matter how much the loved ones are “helping” when the one who suffers is unwilling or unable to make the decision to live. The individual must do their part… Even if the only part they have is to make the choice to live. But there comes a time, when they don’t or can’t choose, that the one dancing around must say… “Okay. I will respect your decision” and walk away.
I sob. I sob when I see the video or even listen to the song now. I think of that moment when I had to ultimately respect my dad’s decision to die… 15 years ago.
I was visiting their house one evening. My dad had severe heart issues or indigestion or whatever. It was so severe that I suggested calling 9-1-1, but he refused. I begged him… Still “No.” I even called my professor- who was a doctor- to ask him what to do. If an adult refuses treatment, we must respect it even when we disagree. Thankfully, he made it through. A day or two after, I replaced his recliner with a treadmill. He could still watch TV, but he needed to walk to get back to health. He moved it back. It was at that time that I made the decision to respect his decision… As everyone else in the family had done years before, I threw in the white flag.
I focused on loving him just as he was, instead of trying to change or fix him. I accepted his death. It took 15 years for him to finally accomplish his goal. Our family watched him go through the ups and downs of depression. We watched the gap between peaks (happiness) widen while the lull (the low, dark times) also become more expansive. In his final weeks, our hindsight shows us that he was trying to make closure in his life and that spurts of “good moments” were more frequent. It was his rally to connect with his loved ones.
His death was unexpected in the moment, but anticipated for over 20 years. When the moment came, I was at peace. I was joyous because I knew he could rest. Rest from the torment of his past… Rest from the daily struggle he faced having depression… I felt joy for my family that we could dance again for each other instead of having to walk on eggshells. My mother could finally breathe again.
Depression is a lifelong battle that affects all members of the family. It is more serious than telling someone to just “snap out of it.” We can pray daily. We can cook for them or walk with them. We can dance and dance… But if they don’t choose life, then we take a bow of acceptance and walk away. I love my dad!!! I loved his genius… His compassion for others… His willingness to help whomever he could for nothing in return… His dry humor… He had so many amazing qualities.
I loved him for who he was.
I loved him through the darkness.
May he rest in peace. God willing, I will see him again someday.
Don Rufus Hager
October 28, 1944 – February 03, 2019
Conversations with Mom
Mom: One of the biggest reasons I get sad when I think of your dad is because after 54 years of growing up together, I look back and see all the mountains we’ve climbed… But then realize when I look forward, I know I have to tackle these new mountains alone.
We’ve been through a lot of challenges. We lost everything in the fire after our wedding and had to start again. We lost everything after the tractor accident and had to start again. Around every turn was a new challenge. But you know something…
Whenever we’d be standing at the foot of a mountain and I’d be panicked wanting to give up… He’d put his arms around me, hold me really tight and say, “Honey, we’re gonna climb this together!”
Every time we’d struggle and want to give up, he’d wipe my tears and reach for my hand, “We’re in this together!”
And when we reached the top and could see over the other side, he’d hold me in the sunlight, kiss me, and say, “We did it! Together!”
Daughter, don’t settle! Find someone with a strong character who will hold you tight and climb the mountains with you.
Find someone like him.
I googled the “cure for loneliness,” simply because I was curious about which simplistic answers would top the list. As I suspected, “the key” to beating it is to 1) Be okay alone… and 2) Make new friends! “Wow!” I thought. “Thank you for such insightful conclusions!” (Perhaps it is my sarcasm that breeds this solitude).
I wondered if maybe I was asking the wrong question… Was it really loneliness? Afterall, I enjoy my quiet wine time. I am a riot: Even when it is only me that I entertain. I also have a close group of friends or active support network. The magic pill won’t cure that which isn’t ill.
Connect with my heart. Put an image to the feeling. What is it really?
Fear. It isn’t that I am lonely… It is that I am afraid that I will always be alone.
I am scared that no man will see me… The perfectly imperfect jewel. No man will love me… Enough to find joy in the monotony of our shared routines. I fear that on those days when I am exhausted and don’t want to talk, that no man will be here to touch me.
Google search: “Cure for fear.”
In Psychology Today’s article, “The Cure for Fear, Grief, and Death” (June 28, 2015), Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. declared that there is no cure for fear: We must simply remember the commonality of these human conditions. She goes on to state that “control is an illusion” and once we recognize our powerlessness, we are freed from the anxiety attached to wanting control.
Okay. I am not special in this. Everyone, at times, feels the facade of loneliness… The fear of being isolated from love.
It’s funny…. Recognizing and really allowing myself to feel that oneness with all those out there who feel it too… Has cured my loneliness.
At least for the moment.
Take the Blame
*Scenarios concerning life and love are never as simplistic as this example.
The [holy] Man on the Mountaintop (Trott, S. and Spurrier, L.) claimed that his ability to de-escalate two angry men was his philosophy and life practice to “Take the blame, but not the credit.”
These words resonated with me after an old friend told me that his ex was in therapy “because of him.” I thought of the way women operate and how our feelings get layered. Layers upon layers of emotion piled atop each other, forcing the original emotion to be suffocated by resentment and pain. We become disconnected from “the heart” of the issue; simultaneously, losing heart for those involved.
His ex had sought counseling because she could no longer cope with the anger she harbored within- about how the relationship faded and finally ended. But what was under that anger? Pain. Suffering. She was extremely hurt that she was no longer enough for him… to want her… Despite her feeling those same things about him! Nevertheless, rejection stings just the same. I could not imagine that her anger was only directed at him. She must have been angry at herself too, because she didn’t have it in herself either… to work it out. She held on to the pain and when it came time to resolve it, the pain was too comfortable of a position for her to let go.
The relationship was no longer sanctified.
The anger smothered the hurt, but what did the hurt extinguish?
Fondness and love! There was a time when they were in love…
Somewhere… along the path… Little points along the way… She held in those times she was disappointed and didn’t let go of times she was hurt by him. Another and another… slowly across time… The love and desire faded to complacency.
Not feeling… was easier… than being hurt. Staying busy in their own worlds… disconnected them from the One Heart. It was pushed further and further under layers of pain, resentment, dissatisfaction, anger, and loneliness.
Until one day, someone awakened to life outside the numbness of what they had become. After trying “one last time” to forgive and move forward together. To woo and please… but with no avail toward light for them. They both chose to move forward on their own.
And now, because he loved her once too, he’s pained by the blame and shame and regrets. I listened the first time he spoke of these things. So… I could remind him now, “You gave your all to save it. You left knowing that you tried. You both chose to be done.”
Yet now he’s blamed for the failure, for the therapy, for the way he’s moved on.
I’m thinking of the holy man and how he resolved the argument. He took the blame. “I’m sorry. It was my fault.” Despite having nothing to do with the fight! The men immediately showed relaxed postures and shared words of forgiveness. Would the same happen for the ones we’ve loved? Even when we know that we are not truly to blame, there is power in taking it on.
If we all practiced, “I’m sorry. I take the blame.” Those of us who understand the beauty and benevolence of that statement can bear that cross and raise it up to God so that we can help the other person release the anger and hurt and return to a state of love.
Because in the end, love never dies. It only gets buried.
Top 4 Ways Women Sabotage New Relationships and The Way They Justify It:
- Men Don’t Text. Women get upset when a man doesn’t text as often as she thinks he should. She has an arbitrary number in her head as to how and how often he should communicate but listen up! Men are not mind-readers. She gets trapped in the downward spiral of “He doesn’t care about me and it shows because he doesn’t text.” She tells herself- or her friends- that she must be “out-of-sight, out-of-mind.” This hurt and feeling of being unwanted causes her to either emotionally lash out at him in unrelated areas or simply distance herself from him. In his mind, he has no clue why she’s upset! Gentlemen… let’s establish a guideline of 3 days. Shoot her a text at least once within a 3-day period. Ladies… don’t throw away a possible love connection! Instead, communicate with him. Let him know how often you think he should initiate a text because if he is responding to your initiations, he’s probably still into you!
- Men Don’t Text. Let’s say the relationship is new but established enough to frequent each other’s living quarters. Women notoriously divulge their feelings to their partner, yet often mistake their true emotions with irrational reactions. For example, if a man comes home late, his partner will greet him at the door with angry eyes and a cold shoulder. Take note gentlemen: She didn’t start off angry! Here’s a typical breakdown of her line of thinking and feeling: First she was concerned. He hasn’t come home yet, there was probably just traffic. Next, she was worried about his safety because he hadn’t texted or called. Then she went to the dark side. She is extremely hurt with the rationalization of “He didn’t text or call because he doesn’t care enough about me to give me a heads up.” Watch out! Her feelings of hurt turn to anger and you don’t want to see the wrath of a woman! He didn’t text or call because he is hiding something! He’s off partaking in his favorite vice, whether it be gambling, drinking, or women. Gentlemen… do you see how a simple text, “hey, I’m running late because…” can thwart off a week long silent treatment? Keep those daily or situational lines of communication active because women have grand imaginations! Ladies… Breathe. Text him first if you are worried, then remind him kindly- without shame or blame- that you would prefer that he text or call if he will be late.
- The Nature of Negativity. Women process their emotions by sharing and bouncing ideas off their friends and sometimes family. Human nature is to get caught up in complaining or emphasizing the negative qualities and events rather than highlighting the wonderful things a man does with or for her. One benefit to this event is that friends will- with unwavering certainty- remind the woman of all her negative memories about the relationship. This helps to protect her when the relationship is indeed toxic. However, her openness to share can also backfire: If there are more positive qualities about her partner or more pleasant memories than not- yet she complains to her friends when he does “something wrong”- then she returns to the relationship with one foot out the door. If she shares the negative things with her family, then forget about it! Do you think a dad will ever forget what he did to his little girl? Friends and family are protectors, yet they don’t have all the information! Women can sabotage a healthy and beautiful relationship by overly sharing the negative parts while they process their emotions. Gentlemen… Be understanding that the process is simply how women operate. Be forgiving of her compulsion to share everything with her friends. Ladies… It is a valuable habit to practice sharing the best qualities about your partner more often and increase the times you are processing positive moments and shared memories. One last thing: Be cautious about what you say to dear old dad!
- Old Flames Put to Rest. When a woman falls in love with her new beau, she may experience some feelings of grievance for the “good times” she had with her ex or exes. This doesn’t mean she is still in love with them, it simply means she is letting go of the qualities or things she admired about her and the ex’s time together. Often, when the new beau is different from her past relationships, she may compare the two or three or more. But not necessarily in a bad way, she may be saying goodbye to certain items on her mental checklist of her ideal man. The new man may not possess all the qualities, but it doesn’t mean she loves him any less. Actually, it shows she loves him so much that she is willing to let go of her ideals. However, some women sabotage their new relationship by allowing their new boyfriend to see the sorrow and mourning period. They mistakenly think that she wants to be with her ex and that she is unhappy with him. He gets hurt and thus defensive often breaking off the relationship first to avoid rejection. Gentlemen… If your lady is having a bad day and doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t push the issue and don’t take it personally. If she does end of telling you she was thinking of her ex, please… put the ego aside and hear her out. Ladies… Reserve that grieving period for your girlfriends or when you are alone.
A Cautionary Tale for Partners Taking it to the Next Level
Although age, race, and sexual identification or orientation are not legitimate factors for the failure of an existing relationship, there are crucial areas that must be explored to prevent inevitable doom:
1) Communication: How well and often do you communicate? Don’t shy away from the meat of a relationship: Emotional and mental stability. It is healthy to maintain frequent communication about daily or situational thoughts, but also consider establishing a time to “check-in.” Mark it on your calendars to discuss “How are we doing?” A sure sign that one or both partners are getting over the relationship is that they can’t dialogue honestly about the elephant in the room.
2) Finances: Talk about each person’s role in the finances. Is the pursuer supposed to continue paying for fun activities or do they share the expense after a certain point in the relationship? Are you considering moving in together? What are the logistics of that setup? Before you consider marriage- not after you are already engaged- talk about hypothetical scenarios and how the two of you would handle them. Bring to the surface any deep-seeded beliefs concerning finances. Plan and profit!
3) Roles, Goals, and Expectations: Be honest with yourself before you bring another person into the mix. Know your beliefs about each partner’s role: Are you a traditionalist where men and women have distinct qualities that compliment each other? Or are you more modern with the belief that men and women can and should have the same skills and qualities? Do you have cultural or religious traditions or beliefs that might interfere with a successful relationship? For example, you eat a kosher diet, yet your partner could never live without feeding pork chops to your future children. Know your realistic goals: If you dream to be a musician, but don’t play an instrument, you cannot later blame your partner for holding you back from your dream. If you want to travel the world, perhaps consider holding off on starting a relationship (unless your potential partner has the same goal). If you work hard to plan for an early and secure retirement, you may request transparency or simply take note of your partner’s spending habits and financial plan. Either help him or her get on the same page or run for the hills! Don’t blame the other person for your lack of honesty and understanding of yourself. If you dream it, it is up to you to make it true!
These issues will not easily sort themselves out after-the-fact.
Value & Self-Worth
A commonality among many women is our uncanny ability to self-deprecate. We’ve grown up with the unrealistic notion that perfection means renting a flat in Manhattan and tirelessly working as an administrative assistant or “starving artist” for a few short months before our big breakthrough on the corporate ladder or in the entertainment industry- all the while having that gorgeous new beau pining over our every move until we realize he’s the love of our lives! It’s all laid out. Easy, right? Well, the idea is certainly easy… Until we wake up to realize that we aren’t all so naturally talented or even “that” good looking. Welcome to mediocrity- where we don’t quite measure up to those demands of perfection.
Value… Self-worth… What does it even mean? Where does it come from?
I- for one- think I am “badass in a humble sort of way” and am “perfectly imperfect.” I see myself as having intelligence yet not a lot of ego to get in its way- perhaps that is along the lines of wisdom I suppose. Although I am not the greatest artist, writer, musician, or chef, I have a keen sense of fine art and aesthetic pleasures. There is this wildness in me that rebels against the expectations of this world: It is powerful and free. Some people don’t understand my humor, but the ones who do, know I’m a whipper-snapper ready with a quip or comeback- even if it has to be an unspoken look. Atop all of these amazing qualities, I’m not bad to look at either: A tall, thin blond who just hasn’t tuned in to her inner sexiness.
Now- you tell me- does it sound like I have self-worth? Do I value myself?Put me in a room alone and I am the best woman in there!!
I don’t like competition. I despise it so much that if you put me in a room with ANY other woman, she will automatically be far more interesting, intelligent, and beautiful than I am. I assume that any man who walked into the room would find that woman- ANY other woman far more appealing than me. What makes this so? I don’t have an answer.
Another concern with value: Relationships. Ah… That wonderful Hellraiser called love. You meet a man. You and said man have an amazing and natural connection- one you’ve never felt before- yadda yadda yadda. You feel completely worthy to be in this relationship until… He confesses that he would NEVER date you! [eeerrr… Brakes]. What!?! “Have I been delusional this whole time! What is wrong with me? I thought I was great for you and you were great for me!”
What happens to an item at a store when no one wants to buy it? The value drops! This rejection causes a woman’s or man’s value to plummet: Confusion sets in. The nitpicking for faults begins. That fear of loneliness sticks its head over the fence asking if it can come over now. So while you crawl out of the mudhole of rejection, he stands by guilting you into a friendship that you’ve read wouldn’t be tolerated by any woman with “self-worth.” Rather than feeling like a friend though, “I just feel like ‘that chic on retainer’ whose love makes him feel the way he can’t feel about himself. He keeps me around so I’ll pine over him the way HE should be pining over me.”
“You know what…. Bro. You’re an idiot if you can’t see what a catch I am!”
Value. Self-Worth. Do I have it? Where does it come from? I’m humble. Is it okay to have it? I know I am nothing good without Christ in me. Part of my self-worth is HIS worth. I am of the greatest value: Truly precious.
Others may try to crush your hope and spirit. To keep you to shine a light on themselves. Others may not realize that you compare yourself to them just as much as they compare themselves to you. But know that there is ONE who knew you were priceless and so he paid for your imperfections, faults, and downfalls with the blood of His only son. You are worth it!
You are… Valuable.
The 10-Day Cleanse
Those 10 days… When a woman has to resist every temptation to text, call, or shout his name from a mountaintop to prove that she is not crazy. His lack of initiation and effort are clear signs that “He’s just not that into you.”
During the day, there’s a hope of love and solice in the fulfillment of life-as-is. But in the quiet nights when I’m left with a heavy mind and an aching heart, my joy kisses me on the forehead and excuses herself to bed.
The day bursts with freedom from love’s torment while the night binds me once again to her side.
(*okay readers: so literally within a minute of posting this original piece, he texted me. He does not follow my blog at all. I later asked and he confirmed that he had no idea I even wrote anything on here. I took that as a sign to forgive… BUT…. Here we are again. Another break… Who’s the fool?)
Day 1: “I can’t do this.” But the power within forces a breath. Just go one day… And then ask myself again, “Can I do this?”
Day 2: “Just keep busy.” Tell a friend. Burst into tears for a split second when the words slip through my lips… This IS happening. Friends find ways to occupy my mind so my heart can stop hurting… For even just a moment.
Day 3: “He’s just not that into me. He’s just not that into me. He’s just not that into me. Cause if he was… He’d choose me! He’d fight to be with me! He’s just not that into me….” Sometimes mantras are my saving grace when I want to fall to pieces.
Day 4: “Life goes on, right?” I muscle-memory through the day with a hollow pit deep in my core. The mind flashes images of the selfish wrongs he committed, while the heart pumps for all that was beautiful and right. I’m aware of the war inside… And that the only protection is to numb my soul until the fighting stops.
Day 5: Life gets busy. I forget for a moment that my heart has been trampled.
Day 6: I feel clean and clear. Refreshed and energized. I convince myself that I want him in my life so I’ll sacrifice my own needs and be “his friend.” I mean, this is the modern world right? Social and relationship conventions aren’t what they used to be. I’ll get my physical needs met while still having a deep connection with him… Who cares if he has a girlfriend… Right?
Day 7: Text. I find myself apologizing for “not being a good friend.” What the fu€k? I am sick!!!
He didn’t even realize I was “gone.” Well that’s disappointing.
Everything is back to the way it was before. I maintain a false sense of hope. 😦
Day 8: Didn’t make it.
Day 9: I decide to break down my wall for the betterment of the relationship. I share my excitement for our connection and my affections for him. His response each time this happens… Something along the lines of “So I got this hot chic’s number last night… Haha Just kidding!” “I slept with someone. Just kidding!” (Later finding out his actually had been lying to me for 5 months about it). Or “I’m moving in with my girlfriend.”
Day 10: I realized… A friend wouldn’t purposely try to break me down and hurt me just to “Keep me on my toes.” A friend- or if he had ever been interested in more- would cherish me and do all he could to build me up!
I am a beautiful free spirited woman eager to love…. He does not deserve me! Good riddens!
Lesson: Sometimes stepping away from a relationship will enable you to see the reality of “what was.” Be cautious of anyone who does not back up what they say with action and effort.
If A Woman Is Willing To Do It All… Don’t Let Her
Article Response to “The 20 Lessons to Learn About Women and Dating or Be Single Forever” by Andrew Ferebee
I read a two-part article titled “The 20 Lessons to Learn About Women and Dating or Be Single Forever” by Andrew Ferebee on KnowledgeForMen.com. Ferebee promoted his book The Dating Playbook For Men: A Proven 7 Step System To Go From Single To The Woman Of Your Dreams in the article. Overall, the article was well thought out and seemingly accurate despite undertones of personal pain and rejection. Although I loved it- especially Part 2- I felt some clarity must be presented for those open to hear it. 🙂
I especially appreciated the emphasis on masculine and feminine differences and how each can promote the other (i.e., despite slight disagreements with it):
“Because when you’re soft (expressing feminine character), you put the woman above you on a pedestal (forcing her to take on the masculine role). Typically, a woman can only feel attraction for a man when she is in her feminine, therefore as a man you need to step into the masculine dominant role.”
Men are not the only culprits of this role-reversal. Women- perhaps after years of being “forced” into the masculine position or fighting for the rights to have that position- assert themselves as the caretakers of men (i.e., to fix or “mother” them) or to “get the job done” because the men in their lives choose not to take the lead. Men too have become accustomed to taking the softer role, but it doesn’t have to remain this way. My first article on TheSaltStone.com, “Men and Women Being Men and Women” briefly touched on these principles and the belief that men and women create Tao as complimentary opposites.
Ferebee used the phrase “put the woman above you on a pedestal” in two diverse contexts in the article. The first implies that a woman in a masculine role is in a superior role, yet the second described the “golden throne” men place women on when they adore them. Unlike Ferebee, I don’t believe the second is a bad thing, simply worded wrong and often prematurely executed. A woman should be her man’s queen on that golden throne: “Under every great man is a strong and dedicated woman that makes him a better man.” Now I word this with “under” instead of “behind” to maintain the idea of a pedestal. I do believe the man should be superior to the woman, but I also believe he must know his place as a spiritual man with a strong relationship with his God. His direction in leading the woman will be based on wisdom rather than whims.
She also has an important role as the feminine part of their unified relationship (i.e., premised by the note that I only describe the parts of her role in context to this article): She nurtures and promotes him. She holds the world, the worries, the values. She loves him in spite of his flaws, but emphasizes the amazing qualities that he has, so those flaws disappear. She follows his lead in decisions- even when “she knows better”- because she knows that learning from mistakes will build his confidence. Here is where most women fail…. they scold him for making a wrong decision. Most women are no longer in the habit of loving their man in his weakest, most embarrassing moments; hence, the stereotype that women nag and men refuse to make decisions.
A woman who is his queen will allow herself to be vulnerable so that he can be the protector: Feminists would disagree, but should digest my reasoning before making a rash decision based on that statement. A woman’s curse since the beginning of whatever time you believe in has been that she carries the world on her shoulders: Rearing children, solving problems, multi-tasking to no end. More recently in history, she has been made to feel as though perfection is par. Ferebee says, “Women are regular people who eat, shit, bitch, sleep and occasionally go through the McDonalds drive through at midnight just like you do,” yet we feel like we have to be those 9s and 10s we see in the media or in his article! Simply put, when the world demands so much from a woman, wouldn’t she want to come home and be vulnerable in her man’s arms? To “take a load off,” to have a listening ear and a warm embrace? I don’t want to “work” when I am with my man: I want the world to melt away. A strong and masculine man can create that environment because frankly, I don’t want that “one-more-thing-to-do.”
Another “issue” I had with Ferebee’s insightful take on how men should behave in dating became clear with the portion expressing that men should make women chase them. Yikes! A woman doesn’t want to chase a man, but she feels like she has to out of frustration to try to get him to open up. The article stated that a man shouldn’t be “feminine” by opening up to a woman because she will see him as being weak; yet, women expect this of a man in the initial phases of dating. The author didn’t state that once you have found a woman with whom the energy, passion, compassion, love, commitment, and stability can flow, it is appropriate for a man to disclose his inner thoughts and feelings to that woman. This intimacy sanctifies the relationship: It sets it apart from all others with friends and maybe even family. Intimacy is that energetic glue that binds two people together. A woman searches and grasps at this- yes prematurely- because she wants that “hard” tough guy exterior who can be “soft” around her only. It makes her feel special to be the only one he opens up to. It can be related to the generalization that men want a librarian on the outside, but a dirty and adventurous vixen on the inside. It makes him feel special when she reserves that secret for him.
I understand that men feel undervalued due to the role reversals and other social norms that have come to play in modern times. Yet, this thinking creates conflict, not love. One of the biggest complaints from women is that they are always having to guess at how a man feels about them. I describe it as flailing in a stormy ocean where the life preserver is drifting just out of reach. The article stated that men must use nonverbal communication to instill a sense of desire in their mate, which will make her “begin to seek validation from you vs what most men do is seek validation from her.” Yes! Women want validation! I wish the article took it further to express to men that the women will seek validation from him, but then “the man will give her that validation…” Most men stop at “women want me” and refuse to validate that “yeah, I’m diggin’ on you too! So don’t worry that I didn’t respond to that text right away, babe.” Perhaps this description can help men sympathize with those “crazy women” who bug them about their feelings and harass them with constant texts or who rudely attempt to pry into their emotions (did you detect the sarcasm?). Even the most sane of women have been driven to this feeling of insecurity and have been lumped in the category of “crazy” because a man has a fortress around his heart or too seriously “plays the game.” A bit overly dramatic, I know, but I want to bring to light what is going on in the woman’s head after having to overanalyze a man’s lack or abrupt reduction of communication. My response to women when this occurs is that the connection isn’t there if he is not willing to tear down the wall after an appropriate amount of time (i.e., look for someone who is willing to be intimate with you). Sometimes this “moving on” sparks action in a man, sometimes it just allows both to be open to a more suitable connection. (**His other bits of advice in Lesson 11: Communication are solid!)
I agree with the author when he states, “women hate being put on pedestals.” Although some women feel entitled to it, others believe they are not worthy of such adoration. Both are sad thoughts because women deserve to be treated like queens (*not the same views expressed by the author). Granted, they should be humble and not demanding of such treatment, but often feel that men don’t treat them as such so they will take it! This attitude does not enable him to make the choice to treat her like royalty. If a man is not able to treat you that way, then he doesn’t see you that way (or the woman doesn’t see herself that way and heavily resists being treated that way)! If he doesn’t see you that way, he is not the one for you! (If you cannot receive that positive treatment as a woman, then please consider seeking assistance from family, friends, counselors, massage therapists, artistic expression classes, etc.). There should not be any chasing or grasping at what is not there. The desire to give and receive love should flow freely without the drama that fear and insecurities bring about.
Ferebee brought up an excellent point, “Don’t change her mind, change her mood.” He stated that men often try to provoke change through logic instead of creating a sensory experience that enables the woman to feel differently or the needed change. As stated above, the role reversal leads to men being the ones who make self-serving decisions based on feelings rather than logical steps to create an environment conducive to feeling: “How does this girl make me feel?” “I will say I want to hang out with her because it makes me feel good to not disappoint her… but I have not real intentions of taking her out.” “This relationship doesn’t feel easy anymore, I’m out” (Yes, I too have undertones of pain and rejection). The logical man would question “Why does she react in this way and how can I reassure her?” “I will let her know flat out that I don’t feel a connection and would like to continue to explore my options even though she will probably be disappointed.” “This relationship is at the end of the “honeymoon period,” but I am willing to figure out a solution to maintain that passion we felt before.”
Whereas, women now overanalyze each text and lack thereof. We “read into” each instance of touch, location of the date, whether a response led to further conversation with questions or was just a quick phrased answer. Women must practice receiving and trusting again and letting go of the burdens of minor details or what-if worries in the dating process.
Women have become the thinkers/ “logical” and men are the feelers/ “emotional.” Honestly, it doesn’t work because it is so unnatural to play the roles we weren’t designed for. Men should be changing our moods with sensory experiences and reassuring words. Women should be okay in receiving these things from a man. Men must communicate with logic so that women are not left to wonder. Women should trust a man’s reasoning and decisions.
Overall, the article wanted a man to realize that he may want the woman of his dreams, but he should act as though he doesn’t need her. This is true to an extent. First we are dependent on our parents or caregivers. Then we find independence within ourselves, trying really hard to avoid co-dependent relationships shaped by our youth. Finally, we meet someone who is also healthy and independent and become interdependent with them. In ourselves, we don’t need the other. But having knowing them, it is hard to think about life without them. (My mom used to say this all the time, but I am not too sure where she learned it- so I apologize for the lack of proper credit).
I am grateful to Andrew Ferebee for bringing to light the importance of maintaining the natural balance of masculine and feminine energies within a relationship. However, there is a need for exposure of playing “the game” versus seeking a lasting love affair. Many of his insights lead to “more women,” yet some ideas ultimately lead to a lonely and unsatisfying end. I believe that men and women will find each other when they have that hope and openness to love.
Constitutional Self & The Mirrors
Tao te Ching. Verse 2: Relativity
We know beauty because there is ugly.
We know good because there is evil.
Being and not being,
having and not having,
create each other.
Difficult and easy,
long and short,
high and low,
define each other,
just as before and after follow each other.
The dialectic of sound gives voice to music,
always transforming “is” from “was”
as the ancestors of “to be.”
teach without telling,
allow without commanding,
have without possessing,
care without claiming.
In this way we harvest eternal importance
because we never announce it.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ,
he is a new creature:
Old things are passed away;
all things are become new.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
“In whom we have boldness
and access with confidence
by the faith of him.”
“… his divine power hath given unto us
that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him
that hath called us to glory and virtue
whereby are given unto us
exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these
ye might be partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption
that is in the world through lust.”
(2 Peter 1:3 & 4)
Who Am I? Who Are You?
A friend posed the question about the old adage, “First you must love yourself before you can love others.” I’ve meditated, prayed, and contemplated this phrase for many years and have concluded that I cannot love what I do not know. I must know Self first: To love myself mustn’t I “know thyself”? Thomas Cooley said “I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am. I am who I think you think I am.” If his sentiment is correct, then I suppose I am who I am in relation to you. Now. In order to love myself… I have to know myself within the context of my relationships. The relationships might be with friends, enemies, wild or domestic animals, God and Christ, memories placed on “things,” or even a beach ball on a deserted island (i.e., thank you Wilson for clarifying that you CAN have a relationship with an inanimate object). Therefore, shouldn’t I know the person or object that I’m relating myself to? Well, no… not necessarily. As pointed out by my clever friend, these relationships that we must know are indeed more of a “mirror.” You needn’t have an intimate knowledge of your mirror in order to know what you look like or how you feel when you see your reflection. Hence, the mirror- lacking the ability to give its opinion on who I am- performs its silent duty of allowing me to anticipate what it might think of me. I am guilty of “constantly” saying “oh that person must think I’m nuts. I could just tell by the way they acted or looked at me.” Although I don’t always follow social norms, I have made it a practice to be aware of social cues and energies (now whether or not they are accurate… ???). In those situations, I’ve already determined that I must be somewhat of a weirdo because I’ve placed that assumption on others who may or may not of actually felt that way about me, yet I have named it upon myself in their honor! These relationships reflect the best and worst of us: They can be a human curse or we can make them work to our advantage. Ultimately, can’t I train myself to “see” any reflection?
The friend questioned, “How do we know when the reflection is accurate and a true reflection of self?” Relationships change because the energy is fluid. However, there is the idea of a constant “constitutional self” that isn’t altered by a reflection of any mirror. Our superficial self reflects what we want in our relationships, but the reflection cannot change our authentic or constitutional self. Is this the one we must love before loving others?
How do we know this self? There is a survey based on Traditional Chinese Medicine that categorizes someone according to the five elements: Metal, water, fire, earth, and wood. Basically, one will answer questions based on whether or not he has had the characteristic all of his life. Although I marked a few in the other categories, it is overwhelmingly clear that I am the Water Archetype: The Philosopher. (I can privately email the self-assessment but was unable to post it on here except for the snippet of the picture at the top).
Erik Erikson’s stages of development might also establish a sense of self. His phases were in the either-or format: Has the individual progressed positively or is he stuck in one of the phases only spiraling downward as he grows older? I was inexplicably drawn to Erikson’s ideas, but when I discovered that he supposedly studied Taoism, I was hooked!
One might also pick 5-10 character traits that he has demonstrated all of his life to gain perspective of his constitutional self. For example, although people look at me like I’m weird (i.e., weird: the superficial self I establish through this assumption), I voice things that most people keep in their heads (or don’t think at all). I do this because if I don’t, I don’t feel like I’m being authentic and honest (i.e., drive toward being authentic and honest: constitutional self).
Another exercise might be to pick 3-5 of your closest life-long friends and family members: The ones who reflect the feeling of “true self.” Make a chart on “who you are” around those people. Also, interview them: “Give 1-3 words or phrases that describe me.” Are there common traits?
This authentic self cannot be changed- only hidden- by the reflection I gain from relationships. I might “see” certain reflections with certain people based on fear, lust, hurt, or lapse of common sense. Here are some examples:
My authentic self lacks energy despite a strong desire to change. The excitement of a new relationship can spark a flame that musters a bit more energy than normal, but once the newness has faded, so has the flame (not the flame of lust, only the physical energy); thus, changing the reflection of both parties. I see myself as undesirable because I cannot give him what he wants. He sees himself as conflicted because he wants to be with me, but he also wants to let off some steam from a tough work week. He changes who he is and stays home, but becomes more and more frustrated because his authentic self might need to be social and on the go. I didn’t mean to be dishonest in the beginning (especially since I pride myself on my honesty): I truly had more energy for a short time and enjoyed the “high.” Unfortunately, our mirror for each other became foggy: We lost sight of who we were in relation to each other. It’s only a matter of time before our authentic selves resurface in new relationships: It’s that infamous “honeymoon period” where bliss overwhelms the senses, leaving the self to only care about that reflection.
Men often say that “women are crazy!” There are some women that act crazy: I have been one of them at times. I was once called “the most emotionally unstable girl [this person] had ever met.” Looking back, there was some truth to his statement: I was going through a chronic depression and had little understanding of self. However, I’ve come to realize that craziness is not completely the woman’s fault. I may have acted that way with him, but not with others in my life, nor in other relationships within that time period. He reflected from me the feeling that he could not open up and talk with me when things bothered him: He kept it all bottled inside. I pressed and pressured him to open up because my constitutional self is a philosopher wanting to hash-out all the issues in life and then grow from what we’ve discussed. But… to no avail. His authentic self wanted to live in the moment, not talk about personal issues. This frustrated me and so I did or said things that made me appear “crazy.” I relate it to a life raft just out of reach. You feel like you are drowning and want something so badly, but despite your struggles, you cannot reach it. I wanted to “reach him” on an emotional level, but my flailing caused the ripples that eventually drifted him farther away. These relationships are bound to make any woman crazy. In relating that relationship to the mirror… You know those movies or dreams where you are running, running, running toward the door (well, in this case, the mirror), but it keeps moving farther and farther away? That’s what was happening. What does that say about self? I wanted to see something about myself through what I thought he thought of me, but I was never able to validate my assumptive reflection. I was a frantic runner, a drowning person, and a crazy woman. That is the reflection or self that I became in the context of “us,” but that isn’t my authentic self.
How does a constitutional self develop and how do parents influence the patterns of our relationships? I believe the constitutional self is fixed before we are born. The energy and Oneness of the universe, the Life Breath of God, and the mixture of DNA from my parents are all factors in who I am. The time, place, and circumstances set the mirrors in motion, but really…. I- the true I- could have been born anywhere at any time and would’ve still been eccentric and would still be a social fly-on-the-wall! My mother taught me, “As children we are dependent. Next we must learn to be independent and not co-dependent, before finally being able to be inter-dependent.” We are dependent on the reflection we gain from our parents: To some this is wonderful, but for others it can be detrimental. Others make it a lifelong goal to rise above the negativity of their parents and learn to avoid those kinds of relationships. Our parents are often the first mirrors we see. All too often, we take this to the extreme and become THEIR reflection instead of our own: A mirror-image of our parents. These first reflections establish a pattern: I see the learned role each member has in my family; as well as, the behaviors we have learned from our parents. Are they teaching us to be independent or co-dependent on others? Do we grow with the knowledge that we have a choice in the reflections we see or do we get lost in thinking we must be what we think others want us to be? I worry about my own children and what they will reflect from us. There are traits of injustice, passive aggressiveness, and lethargy that are being passed down, but I pray that my children take on the traits of love, kindness, commitment to them, and forgiveness. They are constitutionally strong-willed: I pray that I can teach them to use this in a positive way.
Can we change the reflection? There are different mirrors that reflect distortion or a “perfectly imperfect” self image: As such, there are people who reflect distortion, authenticity, and beauty. We can’t rely on knowing which is which. When my friend questioned this, I responded that you typically have a gut feeling as to whether you are being authentic to your constitutional self. The fun part about the superficial self is that it can change freely as you wish: You can be whatever you want to be for a short time. In addition you can always change your perspective. I believe an attachment to “what I think another thinks of me” would be considered a co-dependency. I strive for independence: You might notice what you think they think of you, but then… Let it go! Do not be attached to these feelings. They aren’t real- they are only what you’ve made them to be! Let’s say, you initially reflect self-doubt and ugliness when someone tries to show you hatred and irritation. You can choose to acknowledge and agree with the unkind words spoken to you or you can choose to let it go and change your perspective. Then, look into another mirror that reflects love: A mirror that wants to strengthen you. Instead of being “nagging and enabling,” you choose to see “strength in standing up for yourself and your children.” Instead of being “a waste and poor financial investment,” you can see “the chance for transformation and a power to overcome!” Instead of being “a doormat who must live up to a certain role,” you can be a “reflection of unconditional love and forgiveness.” Instead of being “an alcoholic,” you can see yourself as having “an opportunity for self-growth concerning personal or childhood issues.” Many people also choose the other route. Instead of being “love and silliness,” they might choose to see “inferiority and that they are being laughed at.” We don’t have to live with the reflection someone tries to project nor do we have to be around the person who reflects negativity.
My constitutional self is set. It is what it is. I am. My superficial self goes through whatever glorious change I want! I choose the mirrors that I look upon. The reflection or “what I think you think” is my choice too! Remember…. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think you think I am. Ergo, I think you think I am a bada$$, beautiful mother and super-intelligent, yet mysterious woman! Thanks… that is so kind of you to think that about me!
I love myself because I know myself within the context of my relationships. I choose to look upon those who I think see me as strength, wit, curiosity, forgiveness, authenticity, and growth. I choose to be a mirror that reflects God’s love and grace.
OR and here’s the kicker…. I could just throw all this “work” out and claim my inheritance… accept my Oneness with all of mankind… take a stand as an heir to the kingdom of Heaven as a sister in Christ. I accept.
I love myself because YOU first loved me. Amen.
Men and Women Being Men and Women
“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.” – Thomas Cooley
I am… in relation to you. I am…. in completion with you.
The Tao describes good and bad, light and dark, heavy and light as dependent on each for meaning: We must know darkness to fully understand light. We can “know” a “textbook” definition of one; however, without experiencing its opposite, we cannot appreciate the one. Men and women were created with opposing characteristics for a reason…. so that we may appreciate ourselves fully and completely! Once we know ourselves, we can know ourselves as a part of One unit. The circular symbol of Tao has white with a black spot and black with a white spot because although yin and yang are opposites, when interacting with each other, they demonstrate qualities of their opposite. The best example is the metaphor of the mountain: One side is mainly sunny with a few shadows; the other is darker with speckles of sunlight. However, as the sun shifts and our lives fall out of balance, the sunny side can become dark and vice versa.
Throughout my childhood, I had felt more masculine than feminine. I was jealous of the girls who easily portrayed themselves as “girly” and feminine. I longed to be a part of a “girl group” as I tended toward having male friends. As an adult I have embraced my masculinity and have continually sought my inner femininity. During a creative arts course in college, I discovered that my goddess within comes in three stages: The sex vixen, the nurturing mother, the wise crone. However, I cannot fully appreciate these aspects of myself without my counterbalance, my opposites. I developed my inner femininity and now feel as though I am feminine with a touch of masculinity (rather than the other way around).
During my “the mother” stage- my husband was my counterbalance. We complimented each other because he could be described as masculine with a pinch of femininity. [I know, I know, most men want to be told they are “all man” or “not a bit feminine.” Come on, what does it say about women for a man to “diss” feminine qualities with such comments. Can you imagine the yin yang symbol as simply a half black, half white circle?]. We balanced each other and kept each other “in check” with our masculine and feminine qualities. I felt more feminine when he acted with more masculinity. I tried my best to empower him in being a man: I trusted him to keep our family safe (physically and financially). I gave him opportunities to practice chivalry and teach our son “how to be a man.” I upheld traditional roles concerning work: I didn’t want to work outside the home because I believed my gifts and knowledge were better suited for raising the kids while he was happier being the “bread winner.” I made minor decisions and collaborated on big ones; however, ultimately, he was entrusted with the final decision. I was a wife in joyful submission to my husband. I was the ruler of our home: Cooking, cleaning, organizing, decorating, gardening, religion*, rearing and educating the children were my domain. I did not feel like I was in an inferior role; quite the contrary, the work done in the home left a great impact on the world’s future. I was a worrier and more serious- often contemplating life’s meaning. He was carefree and “the fun one.” I could play the “social game” but chose not to. He enjoyed being around people, but sometimes “what others think” would get in his way. I was the dreamer and list-maker. He was the builder and action-taker.
We were different in so many ways, yet complimented each other; just as do the yin and yang. Our oneness worked because we knew our individual strengths, weaknesses, passions, and peeves: I loved myself with greater depth because I “experienced my opposite:” The yang to my yin. I was free to be a woman because he was free to be a man.
*Traditionally the man should be the “head” in this area; however, it was more fitting- for us- that I took on the role of spiritual leader for our family.
Question: Does this viewpoint mean that if one doesn’t find another person with whom to be in a relationship, he or she may never fully understand themselves? What are your thoughts? Check back for my answer to this question.