I’m a radiant woman. I teach others how to access their ecstatic aliveness. I’m a Priestess of Love and Sacred Sexuality. I love to dance, laugh and celebrate life. People consider me to be warm, open, bubbly and inspiring.
But you know what? I don’t go around with a great big smile on my face all the time. And sometimes I get pissed off. Sometimes I’m sad. In fact, it’s fair to say that pretty much every emotion expresses itself through me in big and small ways in an ever-changing parade of beingness.
In part, this is simply me being human. Emotions are crucial to our survival and well-being.
In part it is me being me: a super-sensitive empath, who has cultivated a deep respect for and openness about her emotions.
And in part it is me being a woman: we are made to FEEL and, in my experience, the more I have opened to my true nature as woman, the more deeply I have felt – everything.
Modern-day living teaches us to numb out, repress and de-sensitize. And emotions – as an aspect of the Feminine – are still very much devalued, when compared to masculine qualities such as go-getting decisiveness, emotional robustness and analytical thinking.
Why else would boys be told not to cry?!!
But after 16 years on a dedicated spiritual path, I’ve learned that embracing, feeling, expressing and tracking emotions – all of them – is essential to wholeness, aliveness and healing.
In fact, in my view, embodying and inspiring the remembrance of this (releasing emotions from the toxic lock-box of shame, judgement and fear) is a key part of the Awakening Feminine’s role today.
Not, I hasten to add, so that we may become self-indulgent wallowers, but so that we may become authentic, empowered and integrated beings, capable of real intimacy and deep love.
So imagine my dismay then, when in a recent relationship, my Beloved seemed to take it personally every time I wasn’t happy.
In super simplified form: me happy = partner happy; me anything other than happy = partner unhappy.
This proved to be very difficult for both of us and led to increasing conflict in our relating.
After all my years of learning to identify, allow and tune in to my emotions as a guide to self-healing (following a childhood in which none of this was allowed or encouraged).
After all my years of learning to own and express my truth consciously.
After all my years’ hanging out in and facilitating tantric and women’s circles, in which free-ranging emotional expression was as common-place as breath.
What with my dedication to honouring and awakening Feminine and Masculine within my own being.
I began to feel squashed, disempowered and repressed in the flow of my being. Like I couldn’t be me. Like my feelings were not honoured or given space. And this didn’t feel good.
I wanted my Beloved to value my emotions in the same way that I did; to understand that they are simply energy in motion and that the more they are allowed, the quicker they move through. It is only when they are made to feel unwelcome that they cause trouble – for both of us!
But he didn’t seem able to get beyond his own (emotional!) reaction to seeing or hearing me express feelings such as sadness, disappointment, anger or hurt, particularly if they arose in response to words or actions of his.
It was as if he took my feelings personally and felt responsible for them. And I wasn’t used to this.
As I also explained to him, my feelings are mine alone. Nobody is ever responsible for our feelings but us. And I was not communicating them to allocate blame, but – ironically – to create intimacy and truth.
Somewhere in the distant recesses of my memory, I recall reading “Men are from Mars” and other such books and learning that men tend to react to and process emotion quite differently to women.
Whereas women express emotion to connect, in men there can be a tendency for them to be flooded with stress hormones in response to strong emotion and/or a belief that they need to “do” something to “fix” a situation.
Where a woman sees an opportunity for sharing and caring, a man sees an opportunity to solve a problem.
Deny the woman the opportunity to share how she feels and – ideally – be fully received in that, and she’s likely to become increasingly distressed (true for me). Seeing this, the man, in turn, is likely to be flooded with even more stress hormones or feelings of inadequacy and – unless he’s done some work on himself – REACT.
I had a massive a-ha moment around this at a seminar recently in which Faisal Khokar spoke about “Understanding Men”. “Happy” is a magic word to use with your man, he told us, since men base their sense of fulfilment and purpose around pleasing their woman.
I may be giving away some key trade secrets here, but, if you want your man to do something for you, try couching it in terms of “it makes me so happy when you…. “, or “I’d be so happy if you… “ next time there’s something you’d like support with ;-)
I know this is all very simplified. And I would say it’s based on more “traditional” heterosexual men, still steeped in mainstream conditioning. Nonetheless, I’m betting heads of both sexes are nodding in recognition as you read this.
Having spoken to numerous women about this, I’ve concluded that this pattern of men wanting or expecting permanent happiness in their female folk is not uncommon.
But I have to tell you guys: that’s unrealistic, unhealthy and unbearable!
The irony is that we need and want to feel fully to feel happy !!! And if we are safe to feel fully in your presence, we’ll be ecstatic!
Your expressions of discomfort with our emotions on the other hand (by way of ridicule, condemnation, denial, making small, attempts to fix it, gloss over it or change it) can actually intensify our feelings of unhappiness.
I know that for me, this kind of emotion-negating behaviour can engender feelings of being rejected, unloved and alone.
So I know it’s a bit of a head-fuck, but even if we’re sobbing our hearts out and telling you how depressed we feel, if you are able to be present to that (which means: listen, don’t interfere, don’t attempt to fix anything, breathe with us, don’t react, love what is arising) – that actually makes us happy! In fact, it will open our hearts to you BIG TIME.
What this is also teaching you, by the way, is to make space for and allow your own full emotional range. Your discomfort with our feelings, after all, is really only your discomfort and out-of-touchness with your own emotions.
When we are both absolved of the need to be permanently happy, we can start being real. And when we’re both real, authentic relating and empowered living can finally begin. Yahoo!