Twenty-first in a series [gs *]
I’m normally a late sleeper – but writing this lunch thing has possessed me. I sometimes wake at 4:30 or 5:00 am, my mind whirring away, narrating incessantly.
One pre-dawn morning I wake with a crystal clear visceral memory of a moment at the end of our hand-holding episode. The moment when we stood to leave and he asked me, somewhat wistfully, ‘did you touch men with this kind of loving energy when you were a prostitute?’.
My heart feels that moment as if it were happening right now.
As we sat in the store backroom, our conversation had shifted. He was less about pure-love gooiness, and more down to earth. A hair out of his comfort zone, because of the public display of abnormal behavior, and talking more vulnerably about troubles with his wife.
I hadn’t mentally noted the change in the energy, because I was still too much in my head, focusing on what he needed. But I felt more relaxed – less like my eyeballs were full of helium, floating above my head and tugging me off the ground through my eye-sockets.
As we sat holding hands, I’d had a clearer sense of him – less of an inflated wacko, and more of a normal fallible human man, struggling to make sense of his life, trying, painfully, to understand something about himself, about hearts, about women and about the feminine in himself. Just a well-intentioned guy trying, through a slightly outsized burden of unconscious shame.
(I don’t really hate all Johns – I just hate them till they come back to earth. And I hate their cowardly ignorance – whether that ignorance is comprised more of ignoring or naiveté, I hate it. Still, until I get triggered, I’m capable of separating the man from the behavior.)
In that moment though, I wasn’t thinking about any of this, I was just responding, energy-wise, from one heart to another. My body was doing what it knows how to do, whether my mind is paying attention or not (in fact, it tends to work best when the mind is subdued). As I could feel him more clearly, a more authentic concern for him flowed from me into him. If he’d asked me then, I’d have said ‘yes, right now I feel love for you’. Not pure love, because I wouldn’t claim to know what that is, but healing love, strong love – Chthonios love. Womanly love that wants him to get what he needs to grow up and become a man.
I’m not really thinking about that, just doing it instinctively, and noting that I’m tired and ready to go home, and we stand up and he asks this question, which is at the core of my whole story – I became a prostitute because (seen from one angle), I wanted to touch men like this. I wanted to use this gift I’ve been given, of knowing how to touch a heart (which for me never meant leaving the body behind – it meant learning how to work responsibly with the body’s deep need for union as well as connecting through the heart). I wanted to practice a magic I felt was possible, of healing a split, of washing away the delusions of the separate self.
So he asks, and without thought, my hand reaches out and rests on his chest. I let myself sink gently into him, and I say ‘I tried to touch them this way, but most of them didn’t want me to, they had different agendas’ (they preferred their separation). The core question of the core secret of my life, and the extremely sad answer.
I wake up in pre-dawn darkness many weeks later with this clear memory. All the feelings I felt in that moment are present and strong, and my heart tells me – I was wrong when I said he still lived more in his head and his dick than he realized. My heart tells me, he was in his heart, but that heart is still so new to him, and was suffering.
Something had made him believe that if you’re in your heart, it must be all pure love, whatever that is – some version of orderly goodness and light. He’d gone into his heart, but his mind was still trying to find logic in the chaos. Trying to impose order where there is none.
My heart tells me that his head was trying to interpret and represent his heart’s utter neediness as pure light and love, because that’s the acceptable heart-position in most spiritual traditions. But that mentally-imposed interpretation white-washes an abject and painful need for intimacy that will never get met if he prances around pretending that he’s acting from a position of strength and abundance (as though he had anything to offer, aside from the abject vulnerability of real need), when in fact he’s acting out of lack and weakness. Lack and weakness are fine (though shamefully ‘un-masculine’), but the pretend-abundance rings false, and repels women. I certainly didn’t feel there was anything in there I needed – I could much better have responded to an honest lack.
My memory of that moment tells me that his head was was putting a shiny gloss over everything, but still, he actually was in his heart, and his heart (not surprisingly) was in pain. A pain, I would hazard, related to an early inadequately-met need to be touched, for physical mothering, for bonding (these are pains I know deep in my bones, pains I can feel rippling off of others if I let myself). A pain of shame and of yearning that, in so many civilized men, is unrequitable because it can’t be requited with the separate self – a pain of unmet need that, in many men, festers, over the years and the failures and the grotesquely unsatisfying trysts and tricks into a rage like mine, a rage of hatred at what is perceived as a torturing other.
A rage of unmet yearning so deep it transforms the bones and muscles into deadness, and it’s this deadening rage that so many johns use to impale whores with. This rage that spews out of them, into us. That we carry around in our bodies forever, that we can feel the chords of being strummed when we walk in a room full of strangers – this inescapable, nightmarish antenna, which, if we could calibrate it down to mere data would be a valuable source of information, but which is often more viscera-noise than one can manage coherently.
But lunch-guy wasn’t to hatred and rage yet, he was still in the innocent wanting stage, and this pain in his newly-met-heart didn’t compute: he’d already cried, when his heart broke open. He’d already had his deep talk with his mom about his anger. He thought that was enough, that he’d dispensed with all that, and now he felt ready to pour pure love into strange women.
Guys, I’d warn you, if you try this yourself – ask for a lot of feedback, from someone in a position to be truthful – and listen to it seriously.
Anyway – as I awoke with this memory, my focus was not on the mistakes of his mind, or the rage those long-ago men deposited into my body, but on the pain and yearning in his heart. I realized that if I hadn’t allowed myself to dishonestly affirm his presentation of false abundance at lunch, if I’d not reacted in a habitual way to a habitual perception of attack, if I’d remained more in my body and not got pulled so much into that weird eyeball/head-space, he’d probably have come down to earth sooner (or not left the ground in the first place). I could have kept the conversation more appropriately aligned with who each of us was. I’d have asked better questions and heard the answers more accurately. I’d also have felt less drained and could have found that pain and yearning earlier, before things had gone so far into the confusion.
I could have touched him with that love earlier, and not felt so pulled off balance that I didn’t know how to tell him – I can do this just once. I could have told him, in a way that would be heard – I can’t be your friend, I don’t want to yack, I don’t want to ‘connect’ one-on-one again. I am no longer a whore and cannot give you what you need.
I could have told him: this love you feel coming from me is not about the divinity in me merging with the divinity in you, this is not ‘play’ and ‘connecting’. This does not come free and infinite, it comes from the bloody Chthonios, not your white-light and purity, woman-hating god. It comes from torment and suffering – it is your whiff of reconnecting to the feminine. And it demands things from me that are beyond you, so don’t pretend to yourself that your infatuation is a fair exchange. It’s not. This is a gift, I give to you. It is not friendship, or lunch, or jerking off, or letting you dump a bunch of old dead theory on my beautiful dark truths.
I met him. I felt a challenge in his eyes. I experienced that challenge as a patriarchal attack. I responded to that attack by focusing my mind and excluding my body – I went into my poor-adaption-to-patriarchy mode. Thus, I stopped hearing the underlying truths in our interaction and started evaluating, comparing, interpreting superficial things. Granted, I was responding to a surface he wanted to project, which, unfortunately, was a surface that easily triggers me. But I’d like to believe I easily could have slipped past it if I’d remained properly present. Instead I started evaluating, and then started wrestling mentally with my cynicism and judgment, which were actually trying to tell me something important. I was utterly lost in my own inadequate head. I met him with the reflexes of a profane whore – the kind who does not take matters into her own hands to make sure the guy leaves truly awakened (as opposed to having purchased a transitory service).
Because here’s a fact about our lunch date – I was going to be one kind of whore in our interaction, or the other. There was no way I was going to avoid that job. I think I knew that beforehand. I had to have. But I had a moment’s temptation, of wanting to be merely human.
But to be merely human, in the context of whores, is to be used and profaned. To function in the service of the Sacred Whore, you have to be part of the Goddess – you have to be conscious, responsive, and responsible in all dimensions (including the spiritual, the Chthonic, and the erotic) and in all directions (inner, outer, over, under, beyond).
I showed up, recognizing the call to be sacred and healing, succumbed to the temptation to be merely human, and let it all go to crap, proving the dictum of Theory U, Bohm and others that what we create is a result of how we attend. I became a perfect illustration of how I do not want to show up.
Anyway – I woke with that memory of my hand on his heart, feeling everything I had sensed in him and now could see more clearly in me, and I almost cried out in grief.
Grief that I’d not been more grown up myself. Grief that I’d not known how to avoid the traps that prevented me from telling him, in that moment, exactly what I felt I was really called upon to say. Grief that I hadn’t addressed his yearning and his pain more clearly and directly, and hadn’t protected my own heart and the Chthonios better in the process. Grief that at some level, I still don’t know how to hold my legs shut when a wounded and needy man wants me to open them.
I awoke very, very sorry, seeing clearly the alternate reality I’d been given a chance to help manifest, and comparing it to the one that I created. I awoke grieved at the opportunity I’d missed, and the damage that arose.
I awoke sorry, and forgave myself – because if I weren’t good at forgiving myself, I wouldn’t even be here to tell you this. I am my own best source of practice at forgiving, and I excel at it.
I awoke, felt grief, and forgave myself – and realized I was on the verge of forgiving him too.