Men-O-Pause

Good Men Project, Dating, Dating in your 50's, Dating in your 60's, Men-o-pause, RLS Section

Edie Weinstein writes about the men in her life, the changes in her body and the different sources of inspiration she’s found for love and friendship

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Change

According to hormonal tests, I am in the midst of what is known euphemistically as “the change,” clinically referred to as menopause. For many it heralds a time of shut down, slow down, dry up and shut up. Instead, I have found it to be a period of amazing fertility in all areas of my life (except obviously in the baby-making component). The female role models I have had in my life have been extraordinary in their tenacity and inspiring in the vibrant, overflowing manner in which they continue to live well into their 80’s. That’s my intention too as I claim my place as a WWWW (Wise Wonderful Wild Woman) who embraces aging well, sporting a purple attitude if not a red hat.

Along with age, comes wisdom . . . or so I hear. At the very least, contemplation. In the past year, I have found myself in deep soul-searching mode with regard to my relationships with the men in my life, taking pause to consider how we have impacted each other:

Adam

At the moment, I am a “party of one.” I became a widow in 1998 at the age of 40 after being married for nearly 12 years when my husband died of Hepatitis C. His death catapulted me into single parenthood with an 11-year old son to raise solo. He is now 26, in a relationship with a wonderful woman and a surrogate father to her 3-year old son. I suppose I did something right, to enable him to be in that place, only occasionally feeling as if I am the worst mother in the world and at other times, feeling like I should receive a lifetime supply of chocolate for being Mother of the Year. One thing I did right was recruiting male friends to be mentors for Adam, since, frankly, I have found that men are a whole ‘nother species. When Michael died, I had a conversation with my tween son. I told him that he could come to me to talk about anything on his mind. He could ask questions about sex if he felt comfortable doing so and I would gladly answer them. The only thing I couldn’t pull off was telling him what it was like to be a man. That’s when I gathered around me the village to help me raise my child. When one parent dies or leaves, the adage is that the remaining parent needs to be “both mother and father” and that the male child becomes the “man of the house.” Not yet. Not in this household. I had no framework for being a father and I told Adam that he was not the man of the house, but I did have expectations as he grew older that he would take on more responsibilities. That he has done, if not always cheerfully.

Phil

Phil, who is one of my friends, has been a pivotal person in my son’s life. They adopted each other when he was 14 as unofficial Big and Little Brothers, although the younger towers over the older. I had been away for the weekend and Phil and his wife Janet stayed over to keep an eye on him. When I returned, Phil said they had such a good time that he wanted  to take on that role. This was my response: “Give me about 10 seconds to think about it . . . okay, he’s yours.” I am eternally grateful that he has been Adam’s go-to guy for everything from ideas about jobs and money management to conflict resolution, even talking about sex and women, which he is clearly not comfortable discussing with his open-minded, sex-positive mother. At a surprise birthday party for Phil, we went around the room and shared the things we loved about him. Adam waited to be the last one. When he spoke, he said Phil was the closest thing to a father that he had and that he was lucky to have him in his life. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Ex’s

When I think about the other men who have entered and sometimes left my life, I feel grateful. I have come to believe that love is never wasted and I have remained friends with most of the men who were partners, lovers, friends with benefits, however they might be categorized; one for more than 30 years. There have been blessedly few who I would cross the street to avoid. Once, at the home of a friend who was hosting a house concert a few years ago, I saw the same man who stood me up for a date at the same house for a similar house concert, but he was with the woman he stood me up for! He looked shocked to see me, greeted me with a hug, told me I looked great and then walked back to back to his date. Brazenly, I followed and introduced myself to her, not telling her how I knew him. Then, I went back to my group of friends.

Another time, I ended the relationship with a man who had regressed from a 50-year old man to a petulant 16-year old teenager. In the throes of his rejection, he went into retaliation mode: “I thought you were more intelligent and spiritual than that,” he told me after I chose to say goodbye. He  took far more than he gave. He had unhealthy boundaries and his consumption of alcohol was alarming. When I shared my concerns during the relationship, he would have another drink just to prove that he could. A few months following the breakup, I was at a friend’s house for a Halloween party. I was about to walk into the kitchen when I spotted him, lounging against the counter. Having been there for awhile, I figured that leaving before he noticed me was the kindest thing I could do for myself.

Campground of Love

One of my friends uses a Boy Scout motto in reference to relationships: “Always leave the campground better than you found it.” I would like to think that I did that, even if they sometimes didn’t. These days, I am much more selective about who I welcome into my life and bed.

Imaginary Conversations

Lately, I have been having imaginary conversations with men with whom I have some unfinished business. One is my father who died in 2008 and was the only man I ever allowed to take care of me. In my adult relationships, I have never allowed a man to be in that role for too long, feeling that it flew in the face of my feminist sensibilities. I felt like I had to prove that I could take care of myself. Unfortunately, I sometimes donned the emotional caregiver cape in my relationships and forgot to take it off.

I trusted my dad, even though we had our head-to-head conflicts about politics and religion since he was the product of an older time for men and women. He raised a tree-hugging, nice Jewish hippie girl who grew up to be an interfaith minister. My father and mother set the bar high for relationships, since they were sweethearts until the end when he passed away as they were about to celebrate their 52nd anniversary. The imaginary conversation I have with my dad is about the statement “What hurts you hurts me,” and his advice not to cry in front of the guy when a relationships ended, since it would make me too vulnerable. I have struggled with that fear of raw emotional nakedness ever since. Only recently, have I been bearing my soul and being authentic in my relationships. My mother’s counter-response was, “Let her cry and get it out of her system.”  At the time, it felt like a supportive statement, as if she were saying, “I’ve been there and understand your pain, honey.” In retrospect, I believe her words implied that too much feeling was somehow dangerous. These days, I cry far more readily and with less judgment heaped upon my own head.

Intimate Friendship

I have also had an imaginary heart-to-heart sit-down with a friend with benefits, telling him that I have always wanted more from him than he was able or willing to give me. Even though the physical dynamics of the friendship have changed, we continue to support each other emotionally and have become more genuine in our interactions with each other as a result. That, to me reflects far more intimacy than was possible when we were sexually intimate.

Inspiration from all Sides

Some of my male friends who are my most ardent cheerleaders play for the “other team” and are all in committed relationships. They too are my inspiration for what a healthy, loving, safe, nurturing, mutually supportive and completely satisfying partnership can look like. With them, I can express my fears and frustrations, challenges and triumphs out loud (and not just in my mind) and they embrace the trembling inner child inside me who wants to be “loved best of all.”

Whole Cake

I suppose what it really comes down to is my refusal to accept less than what I deserve (or desire). I won’t settle for crumbs. I want the entire cake served by a man who adores me as much as I adore him. I want the mutual adoration of a  MMMM—a Marvelous Magical Magnificent Man. Someday, I’ll find him. Someday we will find each other. Perhaps today.

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image credit: Flickr/{natzfirefly}

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About Edie Weinstein

Rev. Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW is a Renaissance Woman and Bliss Mistress who delights in inviting people to live rich, full, juicy lives. Edie is the host of the Blog Talk Radio show called It's All About Relationships each Thursday night at 8 pm est. on Vivid Life Radio www.vividlife.me She is a colorfully creative journalist, who writes for a growing number of venues, including Elephant Journal and The Huffington Post, a dynamic transformational speaker, licensed social worker, interfaith minister and BLISS Coach. She is the author of The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming The Ordinary Into The Extraordinary. She is thrilled to be a contributing editor for Good Men Project.

Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Or her websiteBy Divine Design,.

Comments

  1. You go, WWWW. I’m glad to see you branching and spreading yourself out! Thank you for your cheer-leading for the ManKind Project. We would, of course, be happy to get a direct mention in any post. ;) I look forward to being face to face with you some day Edie.

    • I took the Woman Within Training back in April at the long time urging/nudging of someone who had done it; Phil’s wife Janet (my son’s Big Brother who I mentioned in the article) The MKP community is changing the landscape of relationships in ways that are phenomenal. I’m here in the Philly area if you ever venture to our neck of the woods.

      Many blessings,

      Edie

  2. NO doubt you will find a MMMM! Just a weird gut feeling he’s around the corner or maybe next door. Hope you recognize him when he appears.

    • From your mouth to God/dess’ ears, Julie. I sense it will be instantaneous recognition, like “Oh there you are again. How long has it been?” I like the Celtic concept of anam cara (soul friend)

      Blissings and Blessings,

      Edie

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