Outside of therapy I don’t have any in my world. Men, that is. It’s been like that for 10 years, haven’t met anybody, certainly haven’t dated. For a few years I thought I wanted at least one, wanted to be in an intimate relationship, and I couldn’t understand why it didn’t happen. Then I began to see that I didn’t actually want it. Because I didn’t trust men. And that period when so many men betrayed me or broke their word to me, including my brother, which period ended in bankruptcy, I’ve put up a fortress wall around myself with signs all over KEEP OUT!!!
In that time of being alone I’ve learned what the real problem has always been – I didn’t trust myself to protect myself, to listen to my gut, to walk away from betrayal big or small. I couldn’t hold onto my power in the presence of men. I wanted to be rescued from that responsibility – rescued by men! You change, because I can’t. You must treat me well because I don’t know how to say “no” to you, because I’m scared to take my power, because I’m scared to walk away, because I don’t trust life to support me and I don’t believe in myself. In other words, you must deal with the inner factors that disempower you because I can’t deal with mine.
That’s an amazing thing to discover, because finally I see that men are not more powerful than women. We give them that power. It’s been good, this time of being alone, and to know that it’s actually my choice, it’s not chance or punitive fate. And I’ve been able to learn that although the behavior of the men who have abused me isn’t acceptable, I was part of the dynamic that took me down – I let them break their word. I’m not judging myself, but it’s better to know that you’ve played a part, because you can fix it then, so you’re not victimized in the same way ever again. It’s hard to acknowledge, sometimes, but at least I’m better at it than before.
If I want a relationship with a man who’s self-aware and at least working towards his own empowerment – and I do – I must be doing the same thing.
I’m stronger now, more self aware, and I have a whole lot more entitlement. I can usually tell the difference between a man who’s enough in touch with himself that he doesn’t need to hurt, abuse or betray anybody or make big promises that he can’t keep, and a man who is so disempowered that he has to keep other people down so he can feel okay about himself.
This time of being alone and attending to myself has resulted in me not being so desperate that I’ll override my gut and accept anything. I won’t any more. I don’t have to. I’m not desperate. I’m really beginning to know I deserve better, learning that if I do mistakenly start something with somebody who’s not okay with himself I don’t have to stay for even one minute and hope he’ll stop trying to disempower me. I have any number of choices at my disposal – to say this doesn’t work for me and see whether we can work together on what’s happening, to make the choice to remove myself, move on, and leave a space for somebody who’s okay with himself. Nothing is cast in stone, nobody can force me to do anything any more.
Can’t say that if I got into a relationship it would be smooth sailing – the idea of it absolutely terrifies me, letting a man come so close – but at least I’d know how to protect myself better, and keep my boundaries intact. And I have someone to help me with all my own stuff that’s bound to arise, I won’t be alone, there’ll be solution.
I don’t have quite so many KEEP OUT!!! signs up any more. Still got a pretty strong fortress wall, though.
But at least I’m not making it all about men any more, giving all my power away. I’m making it all about me. I wouldn’t any more we waiting breathlessly to see if he liked me, I’d be looking to see if I liked him, and if we had a good connection. That’s a good start, I think. That’s stepping out of history progress.
And fortress walls aren’t a bad thing. You don’t want just any old person getting into your pearl of great price territory.