Shasta Townsend explains the process of healing trauma in order to love again.
I do love men. I love men who are trying hard to be the good men they are truly. I love men who are trying to great fathers and inspire greatness in their children. I love men who are finding their own individuality so they are not facsimile of their own father. I love men who ask for forgiveness and who offer it willingly too. I love men who love deeply but don’t need to rescue anyone. I really do love men.
But I did not have a great start with men.
I have not met my biological father though he knows I am alive. He has never stepped forward and I have learned to be ok with that. My stepfather was emotionally and physically abusive. A perfectionist who would fly off the handle if you disturbed his cassette tape pile, I grew up trying to be perfect myself and negotiate his ever changing moods. I left home at age 15 after he tried to strangle me when I came home 15 minutes late.
My model of marriage and “love” was the classical abuse model – the victimizer and the victim or in my mother’s case the one trying to smooth things over, ignore, pretend and hide. I have written in other pieces how at a young age I decided no man was ever going to hurt me again and so for a long time I turned away from anything that felt like vulnerability. In my teens and 20s, I was in sexual relationships with men but I always had an escape plan. I was attracted to men but did not trust them. I chose men who would not force me to examine my wounds as they were trapped in their own cycles of self-loathing so it was easy to stay in the pain.
And until now, very few people knew any of this. I don’t wear my trauma on my sleeve and actually most of it is gone anyway. This is not a tell-all piece to shame my parents, or my past lovers. I actually feel totally free from it all and feel total compassion. This year, my stepfather wrote me asking for my forgiveness and I told him there was nothing to forgive as I did not hold him responsible for my happiness. I really meant it. I am over it. I AM happy. I love men even though he sucked as a father.
I will be married for 10 years soon and this is a significant feat for a woman who was always on the run. It is more than just the number 10 that matters to me. I see that I actually opened myself up to a man. And a strong man who helped me heal even as he is healing himself. I know I am no longer angry with my father(s), at men or at God. I chose to love anyway. It is sort of miraculous.
If you are reading this maybe you are looking for insight and support to release your troubled relationship with the masculine. Here are a few things I learned that helped me heal and love again.
1. Heal Your Masculine
It is easy to say, “All men are assholes” or “Men are the problem” especially when we have had intense, abusive experiences particularly at a young age. These experiences of course, color our view of the world and the men in it. They can distort our own relationship to masculine energy so we condemn it, try to manipulate it or run from it. But experiences with abusive masculine energy are experiences of the “dispempowered masculine”.
The “disempowered masculine” is not true whole-hearted masculine energy. The “masculine” is a powerful archetype of love, protection and honor and it is an energy in both men and women. The disempowered masculine is a wounded archetype of hurt, reaction and abuse. I learned that much of my formative experience was with the disempowered masculine. It allowed me to see that men with the disempowered masculine were hurting and so needed to hurt others. It is not an excuse just an understanding. I see that the dispempowered masculine carries a great sense of unworthiness, fear and rage. This is not what all men carry or what I wish to carry. Moreover, I want to step into wholeness so I chose to find compassion, forgiveness and release. I chose to feel my own worthiness, compassion and love. I guess I am one of those fish that needs a bicycle because I am not willing to condemn, turn away or despise men.
2. Look for Good Men
I see and meet great men all the time, everywhere. I meet men who are great fathers, men who love their lovers, men who are kind, strong, sexy and working to be great men. Do you know why? Because I get what I expect and I understand quantum physics. We live in an attraction based universe. This means my reality shows up to meet my expectation. Without boring you with science, the “observer effect” is a proven effect in all aspects of our universe that proves what you look for is what you see. I use to meet a lot of assholes now I meet great men (and women) a lot because I now have the eyes to see. What are you expecting?
3. See the Good (God) in Men
This is not a religious statement or me trying to be Pollyanna but I do look for the good in men. Men have been the source of criticism, ridicule and anger for a long time. And yes, there are many, many men who for the last 2,000 years have acted like giant douchebags, but I have decided I am putting my pointer finger away and looking for the good.
Recently, I was talking to a man about some of his struggles with alcohol, women and anger. He was sincerely doing the work to heal and it was amazing. I looked him straight in the eye and told him he was a good man. He started to cry and told me no one had ever told him that and he appreciated me seeing that. Yes, this man, like all of us on planet Earth has made some mistakes, been a jerk at times and has regret but that does not make him any less Divine. Sometimes having someone see us for who we are truly is all we need. Men need to be seen for the good. And when I see the good/God in them, I see it in myself too.
4. Choose Love (but Love Wisely)
It is easy to be angry, hurt, vengeful or entitled. I was for a long time but it was all part of my process so I don’t feel ashamed of it. Maybe you need to feel angry for a while. I would never halt someone’s process by telling them they are wrong in their emotions but at this point in my journey, I have decided to choose love. I choose to give and receive love but I am also wise with my love. I open my heart to love those who can meet me in the place of love. I forgive my stepfather but I don’t want him around as I know he really cannot love me and I choose love for me too. I know what feels good for me and I honor that. But at the end of day I choose to love even though I may have a valid excuse not to. Maybe this is the point – to love anway.
It is a radical act to love especially in the face of pain but one we must do if we are to become whole-hearted men and women creating a new earth together.
Photo: Flickr/David Goehring