Monday, August 28, 2006

the dance of intimacy

Something about writing and blogging and putting my work up for public consumption without the safe borders of a published book is scaring the bej'sus out of me, and I think it has to do with what Suzanne Falter-Barnes calls writing authentically: I have to get in touch with the scared, vulnerable part that doesn't want to come out of hiding. This means writing intimately.

Right now there's a tight knot in my stomach as I write. I've been doing Suzanne's Dream Binder exercises. It's one thing to dream, another to put it down on paper, and quite another to go public with what you think you've found out is your soul purpose.

Part of my soul purpose involves communicating with women about what I am learning. I had a great chance to learn more about women's issues from two of my sisters and one sister-in-law this weekend. We had a good old-fashioned girl chat in the kitchen (where else?) while it poured rain outside. All my favourite topics were on hand, the budding sexuality of teens (and why they want to dress like Paris Hilton), why girls are giving themselves away so easily in the 'bitch-whore' gangsta culture of hip-hop, how to instill awareness of the dangers of drinking in mixed company, (already a problem at age 14). It seems like the old double standard hasn't gone away. Girls still need to be told to watch out, don't lose control or a guy will take advantage of you. Girls still need to learn how to find pleasure for themselves, not only learn how to please a man.

How do we get wise, anyway? And how to pass on that wisdom in a way young girls will hear and not judge 'old-fashioned'?

One of my sisters is a senior tech writer, unmarried at 40 and veteran of the dating game, longing for a meaningful relationship with a caring, commited guy. Another is divorced, a young grandmother at 50, and through different self-help techniques is working on releasing old patterns so she can love herself and attract the right man. My sister-in-law has only been with one man, my brother, for almost twenty years.

I have been married for twenty-two years, was celibate before that for almost ten years. We are all over forty, approaching menopause or in the thick of it, and three of us have daughters. We have had mixed-emotions about our relationship with our father, and perhaps with men in general.

The big question for me is, how do we model self-love, self-acceptance, and self-respect for younger girls, if we haven't found it ourselves? How come it has taken over thirty years for me to learn as much as I know about myself? What can I do to cut the learning time shorter for Caitie? or does she have to learn by trial and error as I did? Can I protect her from hurt, damage at the hands of callous guys?

My mother it turns out, was not the best source of advice for myself or my five sisters. The feminist way that I espoused early on, to be independent, free and act emotionally detached as most men appeared to (i.e. sleep around), has not worked out for women either, I believe. I think we have a biological need to be 'attached', and from puberty on are hard-wired to find a suitable mate and make a nest/home. I don't think women can sleep around as easily without getting emotionally involved.

Shouldn't there be some training in how to be intimate, when it's appropriate, when not to give yourself away, some secret code that all women share about how to tell a sexual fling from a long-term relationship?

I don't have the answers, only questions. My hunch is that when I understand the connection between spirtuality and sexuality, I will be closer to understanding the nature of Longing and Desire.

stay tuned,


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