Deep in my eyes, open, revealing, soft, yielding, inviting are his eyes. He opens to me, as I open to him, and we see into each other. A true moment, a divine moment.
I see you. I see you, he says tenderly.
Oh, you do.
And we cried together. We held each other in the awe of the moment, and cried. I was scared by the depth of his sobs. I was uncomfortable with his fear and his crying, and spoke of it.
I feel such fear when you cry like that. I think, I think I am afraid I will hurt you. I see your vulnerability, and I am afraid of it. I am afraid of what I would do with it, that power. I am afraid I will hurt you. Is that why women expect men to show themselves as strong? I am afraid I will hurt you.
I am strong, he says. I can stand up for myself. I can protect myself.
So, you must protect yourself, from me?
No, from allowing myself to come to harm. I am afraid, too. I will share the fear with you. We can walk together in the fear, and let each other know.
Yes, I will let you know if I am fearing I walk into hurting you.
And I will let you know if I fear I am walking into hurting you, and if I fear you are walking into hurting me. And we will find ways to not hurt each other. We will find ways to care for each other, and support each other, especially when we are afraid.
I do not want to hurt you.
I do not want to hurt you, either. And I know you have no intent to hurt me. You are not my enemy.
I watched my mother hurt my father. I watched her be disrespectful and angry and rude and hurtful. And I so wished he would stand up for himself against her. I wished he would protect us from her. I wished he would take control.
Are you really so out of control? Are you really so like your mother?
No, I am not. But I see, now, that I have bent over backwards, twisting myself into knots, to not be like her. To prove I am not cruel and controlling. To prove I can be safe and trusted. I believed that woman was my mother, and therefore woman needed to be controlled. So I allowed others to treat me controlling, and to punish me for having any thoughts or feelings that reminded me of my mother’s.
But you are not vengeful, in your heart. You are kind and giving and sharing and brave.
Yet I acknowledge how I have those tendencies, that capacity. I learned how to be woman from woman who was controlling, and other women who were controlled. I wished someone would control my mother since she obviously wouldn’t control herself. I believed that I deserved to be controlled because otherwise I would be crazy like my mother. But that is not true. That is just one of my deepest shadows.
And when they arise their shadowy heads, I must hope that you will bring those shadows to me, and we will share your fears. And I will share mine, for I too have shadows that tell me who I am, despite who I know I am. I know that I am not your enemy. I know that I have no desire to control you, or be controlled by you. I have those tendencies, too, I know. See into me, see who I am beyond what I have been trained to be, what I work diligently to be more. I want you to stand up for yourself, and never let me hurt you. I truly have no desire to hurt you. I do not need to control you, and you do not need to be controlled. Please, bring your shadows to me, and I will open mine for you to see. When we discuss these shadows, when we face them and speak of them and see them as they are, our words diminish their power over us, and together we accept who we are. With love.
I can do that. I am loving and kind and giving and sharing and brave. I am very different from my mother. I should not allow someone else to treat me poorly just because I think my mother should have been controlled. Just because deep inside I believe woman needs to be controlled, just because society likes to think so, men like to think so in order to have privilege and power, and because I so wished and longed for someone to control my mother and make her stop hurting people.
Men are often taught that women are scary and dangerous and need to be controlled. Look at the religions which teach that men are right and have the responsibility to control women. That is not fair to you. That is so unfair to me, that I would not be allowed to share with you, but am supposed to treat another person as if they are stupid and incompetent. That is a lie. That is how the conquerors treat the conquered. That is how people maintain power and get to have their way at the expense of someone else’s life, heart, mind, and spirit. I have that tendency, my love, and together we can face that need for control. I have fear, but I will not allow that fear to drive me to control another. I choose only to control myself.
I am in control of myself. I am a good person who deserves to be treated with respect. I want to face my flaws with someone I trust, rather than twist them out of the way. I still live with the shadow of my mother, of my father. Everything I thought was good about their relationship was just avoidance, disconnect, disinterest. I do not recall them being loving. They lived separate, selfish lives, and I wished they would divorce and maybe figure out how to be happy.
We cannot make our parents happy. We cannot help anyone to be happy. I can offer you honesty, and by that you can find safety.
I can offer honesty. Honesty I have not even known I wasn’t offering. Honesty of thought and intent and drive and power and desire and need and hope and fear.
It will be scary. Sometimes I may resist. I hope I know when I resist. I hope you are strong enough to face me, and hold your own when I resist. I do not wish to resist, but when my shadow rises, I may not even know in all the ways which I resist.
I feel the same. Forever these shadows will live within us. They are us. They are the pieces of man and woman and child which we have always known. I do not wish to live as if you are the enemy, as if I must protect myself, to watch over my shoulder for the next revenge.
And I choose not to live as though you are my enemy, not that I have the right to protect myself at all costs. I have the right and responsbility to protect myself within those bounds I agree to. To keep my word. That we can both feel safe, so we can both be open. I wish to be truly close, truly with you.
I am so ashamed to see how I bent myself and sold my life short by allowing, no, by believing someone else should control me. That they should protect themself from me, just because my mother was selfish and cruel. So I have allowed myself to be treated with cruelty by selfish people, because I believed I deserved. That I am so used to being treated with neglect and contempt that is seems normal to be with someone so selfish and cruel and controlling and arrogant. That their flaws and abuse became magnified into my life. That I allowed myself to doubt myself just because I am not perfect.
I doubt every moment. I want to acknowledge that doubt. I want to share my doubt and myself with you. How else will anyone ever truly know me? How else can I ever truly know you?
It is a bitter pill I swallow, that I allowed myself, that I believed I deserved, to be abused.
Bitter flavor serves its purpose.
Yes, it causes me to vomit back the poisonous lies which I drank all my life. I am purging them from my being.
Ah, dearest, never completely purged. But lessened. Let the poisons flow from us in tears of pain and anguish we have suffered. Taught to use and be used, rather than to share and be shared. Without those poisons, we can grow anew. Our inner ground made fertile once again. Our beloved children held close to our hearts with compassion.
I am afraid. I am afraid of you. I am afraid of me. I have been so trained to fear. I want to be afraid with you.
Hold on. Hold on. And I will hold you, too. There will always be pieces falling into place. Revelations still to come. Understanding to grow into. Fear and disappointment and anger. And joy, and trust, and awe. We will face them all, together.
Yes, together. We are almost there. I feel a piece still missing, but it is so close. About being treated like I mattered. About coming first in someone’s heart. About being told real truths. I can feel the core need looming in the distance. Like a cloud hanging low in the sky, just out of reach but seemingly so solid.
I love your words. I love your mind. I love your poetry and your heart.
Stay close to me, and we will know love.