After almost three decades in the program room (working with both men and women), I became aware of an emerging pattern. As I moved away from experiences that were based in technique; experiences that were supported by the detailed content of ‘how to” and the manuals that they require, I noticed that the men were disappearing from the group experience. Fewer and fewer men were entering into what had become huge, expansive and extensive conversations that promised nothing and yet, delivered transformation! What had once been structured around schedules and timetables and agendas and exams, had been replaced with the immense and undefined space that – in my view – is essential to the invitation for the density of our lives to reveal the immensity of our potential, in a way that we can engage.
This apparent phenomenon puzzled me. As I embraced the deep and driving hunger that women presented; their desire to move beyond the constraints of body, mind and spirit that held them in check and their willingness to do whatever it took to ; I observed that as much as I believe that hunger to be present for the men in the room, something stopped them. Privately, they would express a great desire to transform their lives. Publicly, their unwillingness to do what was required to create that was conspicuously absent.
Is this about good people/bad people; right people/wrong people? I don’t think so.
Is it about intelligence, commitment or drive? I don’t think that either.
Then what it is about? And to that question, I can only respond: I’m really not quite sure! I have observations that I can share… and I have no answers.
The following closing thoughts can be found at the end of:
Episode 33 of ‘Reclaiming Your Self: Women Unedited and Engaged!’ on the topic of ‘The Men in Our Lives’
My thanks to Ray Landry for being willing to be part of my own journey of understanding. I know that he speaks for many when he shares the challenges that men face when considering how else they might choose to live their lives, today!
I know this conversation will continue to ripple out into my awareness, in the coming days. As it does so, here are some of the things that I’ll be considering… and I invite you to consider them, for yourself.
- Where do the men in my life, fit into my life? How do I relate to my partner/mate/spouse; to my sons and grandsons; to my father and brothers? To what degree am I contributing to their staying captive to the roles that we play out in our lives? It is so easy to stay in the habituation of what, over time, has come to pass for ‘reality’… even when it is proving to be other than life-enhancing for us all!
- Am I willing to go first? Am I willing to have the conversation that goes on INSIDE of me MATCH the one that goes on OUTSIDE of me, as I engage with the men in my life? Am I willing to decloak and reveal that which I hold to be deeply meaningful to me, to the men in my life? Do I feel safe – physically and emotionally – in doing so? And if not, how else might I choose to engage? Can I engage with RIG (Respect, Integrity, Generosity of Spirit) in open, clear, honest and direct expression of what holds meaning for me – and am I willing and able to hear what is shared with me, by another?
- And finally, am I willing to let go? Can I trust that in letting go, we each become more able to find our own way? And that in that journey – both shared and alone – our paths will continue to cross if it is life-enhancing for them to do so? The men in our lives are up to the task of their own evolution. Are we willing to give up the job of making their journey, our own?
In our world, on all fronts, we are faced with the need to redefine ourselves, our world and how we choose to move through that world. In the world of women interacting with men, these same challenges loom. Rather than look out there to find our solutions, perhaps we would be better served by looking ‘in here’… and find the compassionate courage that awaits.