Help Me Change My Life: I Manned Up, Being Softer

photo 2 (1)Boy, you really Manned Up after you’re divorce, the Feng Shui Angel, Valerie Moore, said sitting in my bold orange meditation chair in my very linear brown and blue bedroom, quite masculine by any standards.

It was necessary and it served you well, because you had to learn to provide for your family and grow your business and get a lot done. But, if you want a boyfriend to be able to Man Up around you, you’ve got to soften now, she instructed.

Pink bedroom, pink bathrooms and laundry room, Love alter with three pink candles, soft frilly linens and curtains, was the prescription. It will soften you, she promised.

For goodness sake, get your office downstairs because you’ve outgrown this one desk in the corner, you need four desks in your money corner and this business energy in your bedroom is killing your love energy.

She was right, I quickly realized. Looking around my bedroom I realized how very masculine it was. Looking around my life in general it was clear that I had really developed my masculine side since my divorce.

It was in my exercise and the way I move my body with my crossfit and kickboxing routine. My wardrobe is feminine and attractive, but all very bold blues and oranges and reds. Attractive, but not soft, by any means.

It is in my language, which often includes sailor-worthy cursing and strong, forceful “assertive” language. My “I AM” statements, the most powerful statements in the Universe which literally create our selves and our lives, include I am a fierce badass, I am strong, I am powerful, I am hardcore. These are all things that I’m proud of being, but they are not soft.

People, let me put this into perspective for you. I had Brene´ Brown, the leading teacher on vulnerability sign my copy of Daring Greatly, the best-seller on being brave enough to be soft and open and vulnerable, To Fierce Badass. Yes, I did that and it made so much sense at the time, because that’s what I was working on embodying. A woman who could be entirely self sufficient—emotionally, spiritually, economically and romantically. See, I had to build a business last year to support my family as my parenting role had drastically changed with my divorce. And that takes a lot of doing energy and getting shit done energy and a lot of pushing through. So I was really focused on independence and business success and not needing a man to provide for me financially or emotionally or sexually.

This masculine energy is very much present in my dating life. I’ve been dating since about July and I’ve out-Manned every man I’ve dated. The more “masculine” the man, the more comical I found him and the more I Manned Up around him. I’ve have several men tell me that I was too “powerful” for them. Many men have told me that I’m “intimidating.” Others have tried to “alpha” me, which brought out the jagged edges in me, rather than the softness of my feminine heart. Yang needs Yin, Yang wants Yin, Yang is super turned on by Yin. If I’m being Yang, then who is Yin? I yearn to be Yin. But, last year I needed to Yang Up. And men, the heterosexual kind, aren’t turned on by Yang. They bring their Yang to the table and what they crave is a healthy dose of Yin. Last year, I wasn’t bringing much Yin.

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Send me a man who can out-Man me, who will care for my feminine heart, I instructed the Universe.

You soften first, came the reply.

As I painted my room a deep rose, and my bathrooms a softer peachy pink, I heard instructions to my Soul, Stand down, allow things to come to you, allow men to Man Up for you, allow God to Man Up for you, allow the Universe to Man Up. Be the receiver of masculine energy. Be Softer. Soften the jagged edges that are protecting your feminine heart. 

Which sounds delicious and easy and even like a relief to not have to DO so much and to sink into trusting and allowing.

Until I try it. I soften the jagged edges around my heart for a man, the tiniest little bit, and my feelings get hurt instantly and it scrapes and cuts at old wounds from my marriage that I didn’t realize were so fresh and painful. I’m shocked by the depth of the heart wound and by how deeply I’m still hurt. And I don’t know if I can allow a man access to wounds so deep and painful. Still, I know if I don’t, I’m blocking the intimacy I crave. And it makes me feel weak and wounded and vulnerable and scared. It’s much scarier than I thought it would be.

I notice that whenever I begin to soften in the presence of men, I brace myself for rejection or dismissiveness or sexual aggressiveness, my chest constricts and I take on an air of “I can take it.” Because that’s what I have done when masculine energy has wounded the feminine softness of my heart. “I can take it,” because to do otherwise is just pathetic and weak and will leave me open to traumatic pain.

The men in my life thus far have not taken very good care of my heart. And eventually, I stopped feeling the impact of that fully. I numbed out and closed off and “I can take it” without it “breaking me.” Which, when you think about it, is a very culturally masculine way to approach emotions. If I cry, I’ll give you something to cry about, my dad would promise. So I rarely do. If I begin to cry in public, especially in front of a man, I feel so terrified of looking stupid and foolish and showing my wounded heart, that I “suck it up” instantly and make light of the fact that I’ve committed the sin of having emotions, especially hurt, sad or even loving, tender ones.

I go on a date and he gives me the feedback that I am “hard as nails,” and I realize I haven’t taken it personally and I wonder if that’s healthy, or if a softer woman would have hurt feelings about it. My dad calls me and says terrible things to me and I wonder how my heart is so hard and cold and broken because it doesn’t even hurt. Is this a normal reaction? What does this lack of pain mean? Shouldn’t this wound me? Is my heart broken? I wonder.

So, I sit in my pink room and I wrap a pink scarf around my neck and I put on pink earrings and scour my closet for something soft (coming up short). I burn my fingers curling my hair, I put on the delicate panties, paint my nails a soft pink, buy pink lipstick. I buy a a pink orchid. I make a concerted, and pride-tarnishing, effort to ask men for help. I try to keep my heart open in casual conversation. I retreat to my pink room and try to reconcile my hurt feelings when a man touches my soft and wounded places, trying to allow myself to feel into it and let it go to heal the smooshy jello of my heart. My trusted friends, tease me into softer play and I try to slow down and I drop out of crossfit in favor of yoga and scour the internet looking for a feminine dance class instead. I decorate my dream board with pin ups and burlesque dancers and a delicate woman. I use softer, sweeter words to describe myself. I temper my self-talk to gentler phrases and softer dialogue. I try to move my body in more fluid ways.

I AM soft.

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