On this Sunday morning before Christmas, listening to the music, I find my heart wide open. I am often sentimental in this season, I have always had a tender heart, many things bring me to tears. This conversation has moved me greatly, and the comments, particularly from the women … thank you Jen Silver & Bethany Cashman … have helped open me to some painful places inside.
I was on the NY streets at 6, in a street gang at 9, suffered physical & sexual abuse at home, and it has taken me many years of excruciatingly hard work to heal. At 40, my initiation into Men’s Work opened the doorway … for my own eventual awakening, for meeting my Beloved Mignon, and for the art & craft of my gender work in the world.
In 1998, my dear friend Jim Coleman and I offered the first workshop for women called “Leaving My Father’s House”, designed to support a woman to heal her issues with men, boys, & the masculine, through examining how she was fathered. From the initial conceptualization, we knew that we would attract women with physical & sexual abuse issues. And I realized that this offering was for ME, that I would ‘leave my father’s house’ … the violent, abusive, hyper-masculine, patriarchal system that I grew up in. For in offering this work to women, I could heal my own inner feminine nature, that part of me that was crushed inside the homophobic world of my childhood.
The other equally important realization was that the women who attended our workshops would project all of their issues on us 2 men, for that is how the workshop was designed. At that moment, we made a conscious decision to stand fully in that projection … that we would stand for ANY man who has EVER been abusive to ANY woman. A huge task, we knew it immediately. And we also knew that there would be places inside each of us that had been abusive like that. We were both married, had a lengthy past with women, and Jim had 2 grown daughters. We agreed that we would hold those projections, and do our own work with whatever triggered us individually and collectively. We both learned so much, and to this day, I am so grateful for having done this important inner work.
I consider myself fortunate to have had this opportunity. In the thousands of men I have worked with over the years, very few men have actually done the deep work around the feminine. On the carpet, in the many men’s circles, most of our work is centered around the father/masculine issues. Only recently have I noticed an increase in mother work on the carpet. Interestingly, it is here in Mexico that I am noticing this tendency.
Mother work is difficult for men. We are born inside her, we are in her personal care long before we have conscious memory. As such, our internalization & introjection of her lies in our bodies, essentially unconscious to us. We can see this when we react to the women in our lives, especially in our marriages and intimate relations, any place where we can feel our deep need for nurturance. These wounds are hidden beneath our anger, shame, fear … and govern what we are projecting.
Mother is the first woman in a man’s life and sets the unconscious pattern for his reactions to almost all women. I encourage the men on this thread, the men who are coming to TheMenSchool, to stay open to the very real possibility that underneath our reactions to all that is arising in the #metoo movement, we can begin to see and heal ourselves around Mother and the Feminine. Robert Johnson tells us something important in “Lying With The Heavenly Woman” … do not misconstrue the inner feminine from the flesh-&-blood woman, for she is not the same entity. In other words, stay mindful of our projections.