I wish I had known that men do not really care about making a woman feel secure. Or that men don’t really have it on their agenda to make a woman feel happy or cared for. Their role and goal primarily is to be pleased by the woman… they might do things in the beginning to make the woman feel a yearning to please them in return. They might compliment the woman in the early stages of the relationship, they might do special things for them, they might put them first. All of this is a courting technique. Eventually, the general course is that men await the state of being forever served, which is the end product of their efforts. The intention is for women to put their lives on a shelf in favor of service to the man.
I don’t really believe that men consciously work actively off of that understanding. I believe it’s a deep seated expectation that lies under the surface, subconsciously and that eventually this instinct makes itself known to the woman in due course. And when it is revealed, I still don’t think the man really understands what he is communicating to the woman – which is a basic social contract between himself and this woman. If questioned about this habit of requiring action from the woman to make the man feel good in so many ways- whether nurturing, cooking, complimenting, just being present for his needs in general- he would likely reveal a contorted facial expression as if saying: “what do you mean, what’s the issue?” … he would shake his head, he might frown. He would think the woman silly, a nag and he might feel frustrated that he can never do anything right. But what he might be missing is that he is not really doing anything at all- he is basically requiring her to do it all.
And, there are many women who endorse this as well. They might suggest it is natural. It is what is meant to be. It is the order of things. Perhaps- it’s even biblical. Woman’s role is meant to be that of sacrifice for others. She will be rewarded for this behavior eventually- perhaps once she is dead and has risen to be with her father in heaven. And, in that respect, a guilt bubbles up in me at even mentioning the disparity between men and women. How dare I point out the difficulty in grasping one’s own self-satisfaction in a role of life. One should not dare shed light on such experiences, one should only accept and continue on with the role one is ascribed to play in this drama we call life. Accept it, don’t fight it, even – relish it.
The course of a life suggests that a woman in relationship with a man, follows this pattern. She begins with one wardrobe but must change clothes throughout her relationship so that she in the end, she better adapts to her core purpose. She must take on her cloak of servitude; this is inevitable. She pulls off the scarf of her own requirements and she peel off the hat of needing compliments, the mittens of receiving and instead – she puts on gloves of giving. There is no wardrobe available to women anymore for being treasured, for being served, for being cherished. Instead.. the dress code is one of complete sacrifice. It’s a sacrifice of her own time, a sacrifice of her wants and desires, a sacrifice of her goals, her talents in many cases, her longings. And, in the place of all of these, she is meant to take on the needs of everyone else- and simply be … in order for”‘others” to thrive. Yes. That’s my honest reflection of personal experience. If I am completely and truly honest, this has been a reflection of all of my past relationships with boys and men. From brother, to father, to uncle, to grandfather- and on to boyfriends and husbands. It rings true for me. It is my life.
I have spent years of my life in a one way dialogue as well. I have noticed from various men through many layers of my life’s relationships, that they are not that interested. The movie that came out years ago about the man “not being into you” – transfers to me to my immediate familial relationships as well… I have noticed that when I vocalize almost anything to the men in my life, my voice falls on deaf ears. What I might garner from this is that perhaps it is really me… maybe I am not that interesting and not worth hearing. But I have observed this fact: when I have attempted to share a story or an idea, a thought or a suggestion- with men, often- there is a blank expression in return. Almost as if I had not said anything at all. I have memories of many snippets of conversations with various uncles and my father- which confirms my theory. So, basically, the idea is that they are the ones that are very interesting, they have something great to great to share… things of importance. But, I on the other hand, well- what I have to say is generally unimportant.
I have grown quiet over the years. I have held back my thoughts. I have become silent.
What I would offer to my younger self is an admonition to be careful of her heart. To protect it and not lay it out there for the world to trample on. To give it room to breath. To not rush into things… to take time, to not worry about love not sticking around- because, if it is worth anything to her heart, it will stick around. And if it does not, it was never worth it in the first place. And, I would caution her to be weary of rushed decisions. I would tell her to keep herself protected for as long as possible. Because it is rare for reciprocity to truly exist. It is rare that anyone else really cares. So the sacrifice will have been for not, in most cases.
I would urge her to seek a way to come to terms with the fact that the only people that will really care for her- I mean, really and truly care for who she is and what she needs, is herself. And, in a relationship with someone else, the goal should never be to receive. The goal will always be to understand that giving to others does not often result in receiving from others. So you must always give with no expectation of return. More often than not, you will find yourself with an emptiness. A hole. A place of disappointment at not having been truly heard, or seen- even by the one you love the most. And then, you will start to see that the love you have for that person begins to wane. Slowly, it is chipped away at by the volume of one sided experiences. And one day, you will wonder- why? Why did I give myself to this person? Why did I stop doing things that were important to me in order to make time for this other soul’s interests and goals. Why did I allow myself to be swallowed up by another person’s importance?
In all of this… in my revealed understanding of my silence and my need for quiet around me… I reflect on my yearning for a future that includes a life lived out in a small cottage somewhere- in isolation, with a dog and a book or two, a writing instrument, some yarn, and some instrumental music. I long for breaths of fresh air, the wind blowing through my hair and caressing my scalp. To gaze upon a vast shoreline that goes on forever from my perch up on the cliff. And it feels so good to project this image into my future. To hope for it and to seek to plan for it. A place where it doesn’t matter anymore- no need to worry that what I have to offer is not important to another person. Because, it just no longer matters.
Quiet, peace, softness of being… that’s what I reach for… and the hope that one day, it will come true. And there will be fullness and satisfaction in it.