In Part 1 we examined the roots of men’s fear of women and how it often triggers male anger. Because the underlying causes of these feelings are most often unconscious, they continue to be a problem for men as well as the women they love. Truly, the truth can set us free and help improve our love lives. Here we will explore how these fears can lead to relationship conflicts.
Males Feel Engulfed By WOMAN
Sam Keen is a philosopher and author of numerous books including Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man. I’ve known Sam for many years and believe he offers insights into why men are the way they are that can help us better understand men’s hunger for women, along with our anger and fear.
“It was slow in dawning on me that WOMAN had an overwhelming influence on my life and on the lives of all the men I knew,”
“I’m not talking about women, the actual flesh-and-blood creatures, but about WOMEN, those larger-than-life shadowy female figures who inhabit our imaginations, inform our emotions, and indirectly give shape to many of our actions.”
If you knew Sam, who is tall, good-looking, and successful, you might be as surprised as I was when he shared the deeper truth about his life.
“From all outward appearances, I was a successfully individuated man. I had set my career course early, doggedly stuck to the discipline of graduate school through many years and degrees, and by my mid-thirties was vigorously pursuing the life of a professor and writer. Like most men, I was devoting most of my energy and attention to work and profession.”
I could definitely identify with Keen’s early experience. My own life trajectory was similar as was “the rest of the story.” Keen continues saying,
“But if the text of my life was ‘successful independent man,’ the subtext was ‘engulfed by WOMAN.’ All the while I was advancing in my profession, I was engaged in an endless struggle to find the ‘right’ woman, to make my relationship ‘work,’ to create a good marriage. I agonized over sex—was I good enough? Did she ‘come’? Why wasn’t I always potent? What should I do about my desires for other women? The more troubled my marriage became, the harder I tried to get it right. I worked at communication, sex, and everything else until I became self-obsessed. Divorce finally broke the symbiotic mother-son, father-daughter pattern of my first marriage.”
Sam’s story is like my own and that of millions of men. When we are engulfed by WOMAN, we are out of touch with our true selves. We project all our hopes for a life of passion, joy, and meaning on to this or that woman, but it never works out because we are really longing for the mythical WOMAN of our dreams. Yet, we continually deny the reality and the power that this mythical female figure exerts in our lives.
“I would guess,” says Keen,
“that a majority of men never break free, never define manhood by weighing and testing their own experience. And the single largest reason is that we never acknowledge the primal power WOMAN wields over us. The average man spends a lifetime denying, defending against, trying to control, and reacting to the power of WOMAN. He is committed to remaining unconscious and out of touch with his own deepest feelings and experience.”
It took a long time for me to understand my anger and fear of women and to begin the journey of becoming my own man. Sam’s experiences and his words have helped me.
“We begin to learn the mysteries unique to maleness only when we separate from WOMAN’s world,”
“But before we can take our leave, we must first become conscious of the ways in which we are enmeshed, incorporated, inwombed, and defined by WOMAN. Otherwise we will be controlled by what we haven’t remembered.”
As long as we are controlled by what we haven’t remembered we will continue to hate and love women, to hunger for them and also be afraid of them, to touch them tenderly and also want to hurt them.
I took my first step in remembering in a workshop for men and women. In one of the exercises all the women sat on the floor in a big circle and the women sat in a large circle around the outside of the women’s circle. The men listened while the women talked about their lives, their desire for love, and also their fears. I was amazed at the depth of the women’s sharing when they were just talking to other women.
When the women had finished, they were instructed to move out and let the men create the inner circle. As the women moved to the outside the woman in front of me patted the spot on the rug where she had been sitting. It was a caring gesture, a non-verbal invitation: Welcome, come have a seat here and share your story. I smiled at sat where she had invited me. Immediately I moved aside. It was as though I had sat on a hotplate and I quickly jumped away. She looked surprised and patted the spot again, again with no word, but the intent was clear: Its O.K., have a seat. You’re safe here. Once again, I sat where she had offered and again felt like I couldn’t sit there, moved to another spot, and burst into tears.
All this happened during the thirty-seconds it took for the women to move to the outer circle and the men to move to the inner circle. “Nothing” had happened. Yet, here was a guy sitting in a circle with thirty other men weeping. The leader finally noticed that “something” had happened. “So, what’s going on for you?” he asked.
It took me awhile to gather my thoughts. I described the women’s kind gesture of offering me the seat she had vacated then continued.
“By sitting on the spot where she had offered, I realized that I was doing something I had done all my life. I felt I was always trying to plug into the energy of a woman. I always acted strong and independent, but deep inside, I felt I didn’t have any independent energy of my own. But in this instance, I knew I couldn’t sit there and I moved. It was terrifying to be in a new spot, to be unplugged from the force field of the woman. I was afraid I would die. When she offered the spot again, I immediately sat there, but just couldn’t do it.
The final move to my own spot was a recognition that I have to separate myself from the force field of the woman, even if it kills me. I’m not sure if I have what it takes to be my own man, but I’ve got to find out. My tears are about the fear and terror I feel being all alone with myself and also tears of joy for finally making the break.”
I soon realized I was not alone and that telling my truth in the company of other men was the first step towards manhood. When I looked up and saw that many of the women had tears running down their cheeks, I knew that this journey to becoming my own man, was one that women were coming to understand, love, and support.
In Part 3 of this article, we will continue our journey to heal men and our relationships with women.
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The post Men Who Fear, Hate, and Worship Women and How They Can Find Real Lasting Love – Part 2 appeared first on MenAlive.