A Woman's Heart
November 27, 2002 - January 7, 2003
What do we need to tell our children about primary relationships?
What do we need to tell our children about how primary relationships are the frontier of human experience?
What do we need to tell our children about love -- of the heart and body?
How can we tell them about the need to be alert to the very subtlest levels of each other in a primary relationship?
What have I told my own son about how the act of making love is different for a woman than for a man?
I have always expressed these things in the context of love, always.
The anatomy part I have been telling him for years -- starting at age 4 and as much he could handle at any given stage .
He always asked me anything, and I always told him anything he wanted to know -- about bodies of both genders.
I have told him about making love, how it is different for a man than it is for a woman, how the experience is different physically with the genders, and how the difference in bodies makes a difference in emotional experience.
I have told him about what I think is important for a man to always remember about handling a woman -- about handling a woman's body and a woman's heart.
Parenthood is a great adventure, and I think it is hard to overdo it about what they need to know about these things, about conveying feelings they will carry with them thruout their lives. The feelings which parents convey – in all of the forms -- to their children about this area of life is one of the most influential things they receive for their own adventures in this world.
In my case, what I have tried to offer to my son about physical love is to ask what you are looking for with sex in the first place, that it about one's own relationship with ones own self . . is a wholeness of feeling, a diving into each other's hearts and minds and bodies and spirits – diving into life And -- regardless of whether the physical time with another person is of the "warm-and-sweet" variety or the "rip-out, borderline-violent" type -- to welcome and encompass the entire range.
I have had many talks with my girlfriends about this topic, and I think our conclusions would interest most guys. There are two basic things we unanimously arrived at from our own personal experiences with guys -- short-term, long-term, long-distance, and all possible combinations:
1. Guys learn their attitudes about women and sex from their dads. Wordlessly. By osmosis boys soak up their fathers' sets of priorities, where they put their emphasis: physical, emotional, or a healthy balance. By, among other things, witnessing what their dads are willing to put second to getting physical sex, and how their dads can sometimes use sex as a drug to avoid dealing with important issues.
2. However, mothers need to realize they cannot not leave it up to the fathers to convey everything to their sons about a woman's heart, because the fathers -- often even into their 40's and 50's -- may have significant things yet to learn ....... Mothers need to talk with their boys about women and about making love with a woman, about what the experience is like for a woman, about what the guy needs to know and remember and heed. My girlfriends and I decided we women really need to personally work on hard on this -- for the emotional sake of the present generation of girls of this world, and also for future generations of both genders.
For a woman, making love is more emotionally complicated than for a guy. This is a fact which guys are pretty much in the dark about, and, in fact, are clueless about their own cluelessness. So much so that when things go awry sexually, they don't realize it is the feeling level they need to address in order to make things better.
One of my girlfriends -- only just now at age 55, and after two marriages -- finally found someone who makes her feels she is a sexy lady. She thought she wasn't, and wasn't capable. She had almost given up hope of ever finding it in herself. Her guy is 65.
Explaining how making love is for a woman -- both physically and emotionally:
Q: Where in the house does a person go (either alone or with someone) when s/he wants to feel safe and out of the way and not bothered or interrupted by anyone?
A: To your bedroom, and, then, offering the most privacy and protection: the bed.
Q: When a visitor wants to enter someone's house, what is the standard form of etiquette to follow (in Western cultures)?
A: The visitor knocks on the door, then waits politely and patiently for the dweller to respond in some way -- by either physically coming to the door, or using some kind of electronic communication. The visitor waits for the dweller to open the door and talk face-to-face (rather than using the door as a barrier) and also waits for the dweller to offer gestures inviting the visitor to enter, then to proceed along the range of progressively more and familiar activities: entering the house, walking thru the hallway; coming into the "front room;" sitting down on the couch; going into the kitchen; using the bathroom; then going into the most intimate of all: the bedroom.
Q: Does a cat burglar ("2nd story man") ask permission to scale a wall and enter an upstairs bedroom window?
A: No. S/he just does it, uninvited, and goes strait to the jewelry box to take possession of items of jewelry, or to the (unsuspecting) woman in bed to "take possession" of her body.
Q: When a crude (but primitive) political regime wants to inflict the most possible terror on its own populace, what is an example of an action it takes?
A: Break into peasants' houses in the middle of the night, barge on into the peasants' bedrooms where they are sleeping peacefully in their beds, and "take possession" of the men's bodies by dragging them off to the torture chamber. Or "taking possession" of the women's bodies by raping them then and there.
Granted, these are quite extreme examples, but still, they illustrate the point:
For the cat burglar / political terrorists, there is little to no internal changes or accommodations they need make in the course of their activities: all of their activities are about not asking permission, and instead about exerting brute force.
Whereas, for the person who answers the knock at the door, and then freely grants permission to the visitors to enter, each step of invitation to more and more intimate parts of the house entails a vigilant internal question: "Do I know and trust these people well enough to invite them further into my house?" For the dweller, each step of assent into progressively more intimate areas of the house entails the corresponding decision to open up more and more intimate areas of his/her own being, an opening and softening of vulnerability, trusting that the visitors will inflict no damage -- neither physically nor emotionally.
This asking and granting permission to entering someone’s house is a delicate dance, and one that must be done with grace, finesse -- and always with the aforementioned vigilance.
Similarly in making love: the asking and granting permission is also a delicate dance. Just as the experience of the dweller and the visitor each has a different dynamic, similarly the experience of the woman and the man each has a different dynamic, both physically and emotionally. For the woman, each progressively more intimate step of assent entails her correspondingly more sensitive decision to open up more and more intimate areas of his/her own being, an opening and softening of vulnerability, trusting that the visitor will inflicing no damage -- neither physican nor emotional.
Whereas for the man, this internal emotional process can be either way: it can be a similar opening and softening of his heart, or equally, it need not be a factor in "getting the job done."
When a man is going to make love with a woman, he should be be sure she is someone precious to him -- precious in every way -- and should treat her accordingly, like a queen, and both before, during, and after making love. Because the act of "making love" is not really one discreet time, but rather ALL the time of your relationship, ALL the time of your life together. Feeling like this toward a woman is what makes her open her heart and her body to her man.
At the time of opening up her body and heart to those of a man, a woman is at her most soft and vulnerable. At this time, more than at any other time in her life, if the man does anything damaging -- both physical or emotional -- it carries untold, exponentially greater force of brutality. Depending on the degree of damage to the delicate, opened-up, sensitive, inner areas of her heart, the effects of any brutality can last for years in her heart as "post-traumatic stress response." I know this from my own personal experience.
The power of sex -- and the corresponding seriousness and delicacy with which people need to handle each other in this area of being -- is reflected in our current rampant alcohol and drug abuse. Among chronic substance abusers, the percentage of sexual abuse when young is an astonishing 99%. Rather than using drugs for mere "recreation," people are actually using them as a sedative, to dull the pain of their physical-emotional damage -- their "post-traumatic stress."
"We are a nation of walking wounded," said the psychologist-researcher who dug into the statistics and discovered this percentage, "and reveals the reason for the absurd ineffectiveness of the 'Just say no' campaign. This band-aid approach to the problem reflects a mechanistic view of what is the trouble, and doesn't get at the core of it at all: the life-long effects of people hurting each other."
All of this is why we need to teach our kids about the emotionally powerful aspects of pyhsical love.
Because we are dealing with the infinite depth and strength and capacity of the heart......
I will end with this:
From the ending of Isak Dinesen's Babette's Feast:
It is terrible and unbearable to an artist to be encouraged to do, to be applauded for doing, his second best.
Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: "Give me leave to do my utmost!"
For people who are brought up and trained to understand what a great artist does, he can make them happy.
And when he does his very best, he can make them perfectly happy; he can enchant even the angels.
In that vein, draw from the very best of yourself in living your life.
Seek the very best ways to live wholeness and integration.
Avoid surrounding yourself with people who ask too little of you.
Settle for nothing less than the very best you can be and can give to the world.
....And when you love a woman, do so as to enchant even the angels....