Twenty-third in a series [gs *]
The last sentance of lunch-guy’s that I havn’t yet shared with you, which comes back to haunt me, was spoken after the end of the hand holding exercise, just after I’d rested my hand on his heart, as we stood there, preparing to leave. That moment when I finally felt fully present, and, yes, loving.
He gave me another soft quizzical look and asked ‘why did you gaze into my eyes like that for so long when we were standing at the lunch counter’?
Funny, isn’t it – because that was the key moment in our downfall – he must have felt it too, that something significant happened in that moment, otherwise why would he be asking?
‘Because you did’, I said.
‘Yes, you kept making eye contact, so I did too – I was just following your lead.’
‘Oh,’ he said softly. As though he’d wanted a more profound or meaningful answer.
I was actually curious at that point, about why he’d asked, what he’d thought was going on in that moment (which I didn’t yet see, at the end of hand-holding, as pivotal), what it meant to him. But I was too psychically exhausted to pursue it further, and he had a meeting to run off to.
First to quickly recap what I did to myself in that moment when I restrained my bodily impulse to turn away:
- I put myself in an unnecessary and unconsciously defensive position, by forcing more openness than my erotic energy body knew was appropriate, which triggered mental resistance to our dynamics in the form of cynicism.
- I turned him (subtly, at first) into the enemy, an untrustworthy ‘other’ intent on taking advantage of my openness and draining me of what he thought I had to offer. Defensiveness (which is not at all the same as a responsively calibrated openness) also shuts down my mental acuity.
- I stopped trying to sincerely know him and presumed I already did. I never ask the right questions or have the proper kind of healthy curiosity when facing what I, even unconsciously, consider an enemy (even if in the form of a grabby infant).
- I perpetuated a falsehood about the ease of feminine accessibility, and later got angry at him for believing that falsehood.
- I violated my own values and failed to engage the way a Sacred Whore would – I’m the one who made myself into a victim-whore, right in that very instant – not him.
Those are the big ways I was impacted by that pivotal moment.
He’ll have an opportunity to tell us why he asked me that question, and what he felt in that moment, but I’d wager that in that moment I fatally confused him, and he was trying to interpret the confusion.
I’d bet that before that moment, he was ready to engage in a far more grown-up manner than he actually did. I’d bet in that moment, my forcibly-prolonged openness triggered in him much of the complimentary muck that eventually got triggered in me.
That question of his comes back to me, and as I feel into its resonances, I sense that it wasn’t just me who got thrown off-track right then. Of course this is just my own intuitive analysis, and I could be wildly off-base – but thinking what follows actually helps me to fine-tune my own understanding of how to engage with people. So I’ll indulge it until (if ever) I have more to go on.
If I relive that later moment when lunch-guy asked why I had remained in the eye-contact, and ask my body and heart what they heard from him in that question, they tell me I did the following:
- I signaled to him a greater accessibility than he anticipated, which triggered the illusion that all he had to do was proclaim his desire and he would receive.
- I made him think we were on the same page.
- I told him he could lower the bar on his own behavior, in fact I suggested he toss that bar to the ground and leave it behind. I gave him the sense my availability was unconditional.
- I triggered his sexual energy, in spite of a powerful intention not to (my body tried to prevent it, but as we’ve established – I shut down my erotic controls). Combining the P word on my forehead and forcing an inappropriate openness was the accidental hook that introduced sexual confusion into the mix, for him (not for me). (At this point, even intense erotic openness does not engage sexual desire – I’m guessing, suddenly, that sex is really just Eros turned grabby maybe. At any rate, this was not that for me).
- Those two impacts above – sexual trigger and signaling apparent availability – combined with his recently broken-open heart and the other events referenced in his final apology email (which I still have not responded to yet), hooked into a powerful set of unmet needs he was suffering, which brought up all kinds of repressed, shamed neediness. Needs that civilized men are trained not to have, needs that, repressed and unintegrated, prevent men from growing up. Needs I have been known in the past to bring to the surface, and which I’m comfortable being present for and respecting – so long as there is no grasping at me to assuage them, so long as we can have an honest conversation – not the sickly, sneaky-pretend twisty way we dealt with them in this instance.
- Thus you can see – I undermined his maturity. I turned him into a baby. And then I railed against him for being one.
- Finally, as he struggled to prove his manhood, I made him into a monster, and excoriated him in my mind. I heaped hateful energy his way.
I unconsciously made him an Up and me a Down, while in truth I was the Up and he was the Down, and we were both pretending to be neither.
When he asked me that question, standing there at the end of our time together, I had a whiff of a sense that something had gone wrong there – his asking was a small part of what pointed me to that not-looking-away moment in the TK session. Because even before TK, I had a small niggling sense that overriding my bodily impulse at that point put everything on the wrong footing for him as well as for me.
I realize now that I donned my openness in a contradictory heroic way. Like a delicate Joan of Arc, on foot with no shield and weaponless, heading into battle against huge, shielded, armed and muscular enemies on horseback, surrounding her on all sides. Expecting her force of character and intensity of righteousness to carry the day.
That may be a powerful faith in action, but it’s not called for every day. My stance has always tended to be an on/off of the hero switch. I’m either doing Joan of Arc as described above, or I’m not even in the fight – which means I abdicate way more than I want to. And even when I enter the fray, I tend to beat a hasty retreat as soon as I wake up to my lack of judgement.
There may be times when we need to approach our openness that heroically, but usually, especially for women or men in their feminine mode, I think we’re better off approaching it like the Sacred Whore. Taking it one small step at a time and giving the authority of openness to our bodies. Being present to the potential for connection and healing, intending openness and vulnerability, but not diving in all at once. Teaching others how to be present with our vulnerability, rather than forcing ourselves to be absolutely unilaterally vulnerable.
When I enter heroically, the faith I’m acting on is faith in the Chthonios, which has always taken good care of me. When I enter heroically and am met with aggression, or if I beat a hasty retreat and get chased after, woe goes to the aggressor or pursuer. When I force myself open like I did, it never ends nicely.
Anyway, scrutinizing that moment as deeply as I can, I understand how complex it all was.
For instance, he is a John. He may not like that label, but he said he’s bought sex, if only online. You may see that as harmless, but it comes from the same wounds that drive all of the sex industry – a need for and inability to connect meaningfully with the feminine (in self or other). And it comes from the same solution that civilization uses to address most of its problems – using money to purchase the un-purchasable.
And since he is a John, I felt that wound, that need, that yearning to be good enough, to touch and be touched (even if only spiritually). I always feel it, everywhere I go. I can even sense the feeling-tone of that wound – is it merely wistful and needy (as was lunch-guy’s), has it hardened already into bitter resentment, is it flat-out hateful, has it turned violent?
I felt his wound, and because of my past, both as a real whore and as a corporate whore (a person who reinforces the ‘Up’s’ self-delusions in order to avoid retribution), I responded as if to a patriarchal attack. I also responded with a very old impulse to meet the need. Nature flows into a vacuum. There’s a certain sad inevitability to it all.
We were both trying to interact in a new way around some very old, and recently peeled-open wounds (his heart, my public disclosures).
It was also complex because we were both actively trying to practice a certain kind of presence that embraces openness and vulnerability. But we jumped in over our heads too fast which made each of us flee to a dishonest superior position – me in my heroic (and secretly contemptuous) mode, him from false abundance masking great need. We’d both set the bar several steps higher than we were each at. Or, to be fair, maybe we were each pretty good with those practices in a less wounded context, but the P-word and my erotic energy hooked him sexually, and that hooked my slow-burning rage and that made the practice inappropriately too open for either of us.
A friend this week referred to shame as coming from feeling exposed in an unsafe way, which seems a good way to sum up this whole affair. Because when practicing vulnerability and openness, an unsafe exposure is bound to happen – and this entire narrative is about what at least some of us do with that when it does happen.
Do we stay in a space where we can be raped and exploited, or do we retreat into contempt and rage? Clearly I did a combo of both.
Do we hide behind spiritual platitudes, close our eyes to the other person’s perspective, and then abdicate self-responsibility with blaming and boy-noise? He did all of them.
Or do we cop to our own experience, acknowledge our behaviors, try to understand where they stem from, and then be open to the truth of the other’s response and try to understand where that response comes from? I think we both tried, poorly at first, better over time. Clearly, I’m still working on that project.
Whichever we do, we can use it to inform us the next time. I wanted to examine, here, in this story, what happens if we stay with the experience. What can we see if we dig until discovery ceases?