Interesting how a work of fiction has opened me to so many sides of love over the past four months. I follow a WIP (work in progress) about a relationship between two guys. One suffers from post traumatic stress as a result of being gang raped in high school. Ten years later he starts to recover after hiding behind a wall of false bravado and domination. He has been forced to finally face down his demons, identify triggers and develop new coping skills in an attempt to re-enter society having been inspired by meeting someone who he eventually falls in love with. His partner has his own psych issues to deal with and so the whole thing is very real, it's not a peaches and cream romance.
The first time this story came into my life on a real gut level was dealing with a family member who had just hit that point in their life where they needed to either finally let the dragons out and deal with them or crawl under a rock which would have meant sacrificing a career and a wonderful romance. Having dealt with this person for many years but never really identifying the issues and facing them head-on, I took lessons from the story and suggested they identify their triggers. Also to identify negativity in their life that could be avoided. The last time we were together there was a huge melt-down on both our parts but it was something we both knew had to happen. But this time there was no yelling one another into submission. No nasty outbursts. When they got angry I saw that they were angry with themselves and no one else. The next morning we were in a whole new place. Since then this person has been doing a great job of healing and dealing. I'm so proud of them.
The other lesson I learned from this story came tonight and it lifted this large, heavy black veil from a mystery I have pondered for quite a while...why are men so afraid of women or other guys who are more passive? The answer was the macho guys are afraid because they know that emotional strength is far greater than physical. To let down one's guard, to care-especially for someone else more than yourself, to empathize, to show compassion takes so much more. You bare your heart not your throat. To have one's heart broken is sometimes monumental. It is a crushing blow that is painful for a long time. It leaves deep scars. If you want real love you have to be vulnerable and that vulnerability just magnifies the hurt if it doesn't work out. And I'm not just talking romantic relationships. Think how many times you've been hurt by a friend. Or take it another step, how about trying to help a stranger who just blows you off?
So guys get all in their heads about how they are going to protect the women folk who are weak. Ok, maybe we're physically weaker but guys?...We birth babies if you want to talk tolerance of pain. We also schlep those babies around, open vacuum sealed jars to feed them, do laundry, clean houses, etc. etc. Physically we don't do half bad. But maybe we sometimes would like a little emotional protection and support. Hold us while we cry. Hug a kid who's had a bad day. Sit down and hold an intelligent conversation. See someone who is worse off than you and do something nice for them.
For any dude who wants to play the "christian" card? Ummm I never read a story where Jesus punched someone out. He didn't watch football or drink beer. He didn't treat women like chattel, crap, bimbos or anything less than emotional and intellectual equals. Hey! I said JC! Yeah, you're gonna pull out all those other dudes that either hung around with him or came after him that seemed to have a problem with women and passive men. (Interject a giggle that the bible never mentions lesbians...hmmmm) No, Jesus had women friends, followers and disciples. He told Martha to come out of the kitchen and hold an conversation with he and Mary and the other people in the house. I'd like to think that he apologized to Peter's wife for the neighbors taking the roof off the house and helped replace it the next day. He did give out a number of ass-chewings to the Pharisees and their cohorts but he never laid a glove or sword on any of them despite the fact that Caiaphas and his boys pissed JC off a lot. Jesus was a pacifist and yet, I dare any of you to be strong enough to take on the entire world's guilt and accept the death sentence of the court without any protest. Hell, I dare you to go to jail for a year for somebody else's transgression or for sticking up for someone else's rights.
In the story, the guy who is recovering from PTSD has just been put in a position where he really sees how much stronger his is now that he has become vulnerable than when he hid behind the strut and swagger. As I read how the realization hits him, a bright light came on for me and that big black cloth was stripped away. I just wish that my words would give all the guys in the world permission to let down their guard. Stop being afraid or jealous of men and women who are strong enough to care. We're not going to hurt you and it doesn't make you any less male. It makes you human. Find the strength and courage to cry. To hold someone else when they fall apart. Allow your hearts to love even if they do get broken. Yeah, there will be scars and residual pain but they will heal. Try. Please?