Beneath the Surface
“I need some Deb time,” the text said. It was my friend Alex.
“LOL. It’s a date,” I texted back. We had been having occasional zoom chats since I moved down to Florida, but there was something new happening.
Alex is a super cool millennial guy and a therapist who moonlights as a yoga instructor. It’s our nerdy passion for C.J. Jung that has likely cemented our friendship for eternity.
“You’re a healer,” he told me another time, after we had feverishly texted back and forth about something.
“Aw Shucks,” I replied with my shy Bitmoji avatar.
Hmm. Therapy via text, I mused. I had after all, worked many dreams with people over the course of a day via long threads of texting. On any random morning, I might get a message from someone about a dream. My eyes light up as I spring into action. My fingers get right to work posing questions, reading enthusiastic replies, back and forth until, the person on the other end exclaims, “Oh my gosh, I get it.” It’s never what they thought it would mean. Sometimes, they’re actually freaked out – in a good way.
I live for those ah-ha moments!
As I work to finish and publish my memoir, I’ve been reflecting about how to share my gifts with others who want what I have to offer. Three things sort of came together in my thought process in the last week.
Do You Need Some Deb Time?
I asked Alex if we could dig into what exactly what he meant by Deb Time – why he needed it and what it did for him.
“Well, one day I’ll just feel like there’s a knot that needs to get untangled. I feel it in my neck. And I know after our chat, the messy ball of yarn will have been unraveled.”
“Great metaphor,” I laughed. This made me think about the creativity that sometimes is unleashed as part of the healing process. Once unraveled, that ball of yarn can be used to make a beautiful sweater maybe. “Go on,” I said.
“You’re like sunshine. Being around you feels like being outside on a beautiful day with that perfect breeze to keep cool.”
Then, I asked, “What exactly do you think is happening during our chat?” I wanted to home in on what exactly I was doing, or how I was doing what I was doing.
Of course, there's the knowledge I have about depth psychology, the experience I have as a consultant (people used to say I was a therapist for nonprofits), and my quirky personality.
But then, “You’re NOT motherly,” Alex stated. “I like that!”
Hmm. I wasn’t sure how to take that, but now, I was going to learn something new about me.
“You’re more like a friend with this child-like innocence and genuine curiosity. We play. We explore. You just say things. You have wisdom. And you’re so open with your own journey – it’s fun to watch you grow.”
“Entertaining too, I’m sure.” We both laughed.
“Okay, my last question is . . . How do you feel after our chat?”
“I feel great, refreshed, my body feels lighter, my muscles are more relaxed, and I’m just happier. Like I just got out of a sauna.” Another great metaphor. “I feel confident that I just did something that was really good for me. You know, like starting a new exercise routine.”
This all tracked with what I had been journaling about when it came to what I love doing and what people say about me. I love having meaningful conversations, watching people have ah-ha moments, and inspiring people to be as excited about their unique story as I am. People have always called me a cheerleader, told me they feel better after spending time with me, that my energy is contagious and that they gain a new perspective about things.
Now, I had to discover what it might be that certain people would be willing to pay me for.
What Alex said next got me so excited!
“Deb, I also feel more seen after chatting with you. You are one of the few people who will ask me, ‘As a man, what is that like for you?’ I feel so validated because of that.”
This statement warmed my heart of course, and it also reminded me about how much I love men. Not in the way you’re thinking. Well, sure, yes, sometimes that way too, but that kind of connection is rare for me.
Even as I was coming of age in the 1980s, rebelling against all of those awful limiting beliefs about women, I had the capacity to empathize with men, whose society-defined identity was being turned upside down.
In my twenties, I actually preferred the company of men. Again, not for you know what. Aside from my feminist colleagues, I just found conversations with men – a certain kind of man – more interesting. There was this energy – a sexual energy, a life energy, that had nothing to do with literal sex. I could feel it flowing between our brains and/or our souls.
You may not know this, but evidence shows that friendships between men and women are the biggest threat to patriarchy. Think about it. Try it out. Let me know if you want more on that. I’ll send you over to my favorite book by Riane Eisler, Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body.
Now, we can circle back to the headline of this post: It Ain't Easy Being a Man Either These Days.
Pointing out the absence and benefits of diversity is absolutely necessary. My feminist lens is quick to calculate ratios. People who have never reflected about their own unconscious bias and privilege are now doing so. Understanding why women are angry and defensive even if they personally have not been the victim of sexual violence is part of the consciousness raising that everyone needs.
What does NOT seem helpful or productive is turning around and projecting onto another group – men, white men, black men, ivy league men, corporate men, homeless men. Turning against each other only benefits those who already have the most power and wealth. I’m a white woman AND I have my own story of childhood suffering. My son is twenty-two and grew up and went to school in a wealthy neighborhood AND he has his own childhood suffering.
Our society is sick. We are watching the dismantling of patriarchy, and it’s not pretty. There are plenty of wounds to go around. Real community is hard work and requires walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Understanding the root of something is not the same as excusing bad behavior.
I think there is a quiet suffering going on inside a lot of good men, who may not feel they have a right to say they’re suffering too.
Patriarchy has given women permission to be as nasty as men. I’ve seen it many times. Some women have lost touch with their feminine and some men want permission to express the new feminine they’ve discovered.
As Dr. Brené Brown said, “Women want men to be able to show vulnerability, but when they do, women can’t stomach it.” That’s hardly fair.
I am finding out that as many men as women are interested in my journey of reconciling sexuality and spirituality. Just from a different angle.
I Want to do this With You!
If you’re a man for whom this resonates, and you’d like to expand your consciousness in order to come into deeper relationship with your Self and Others, I can provide a safe and confidential space for doing so. Men as much as women are redefining what it means to be a human being. I’d love to be your partner in this exploration. Let’s see what we can learn together.
If you love these images, please visit the photographers' sites.