by Katina Hubbard
This is not a blog about women.
We will work our butts off so that our daughters’ daughters will live in a world where they are worth the same amount of money as their male counterparts in the workplace. Where the terms ‘sexy,’ ‘pretty,’ and ‘beautiful’ mean something uniquely true for every woman instead of a fake and unattainable societal standard. A world where our daughters can’t believe how old-fashioned it was to have never had a female president.
But as soon as we get there, won’t we have to turn around and do the same thing for men? To pick up the pieces of our sons who’ve been told that they have to be strong all the time and that they’re worthless if they can’t provide a luxurious lifestyle for their family? For our sons who’ve been told that their brains are more important than their feelings, and have learned to shut them off? For our sons at a loss because their anger makes them violent, their sadness makes them cry, and all their fears must be hidden if they’re going to be “real” men?
Since I started Women Well Loved I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from strong women. But I’ve also had a surprisingly large number of men reach out to me (who even knew they were reading?). Men have come out of the woodwork asking
serious, thoughtful, poignant questions, not about women, but about themselves, as if empowerment of women makes them want to be empowered too, saying, “Wait, I support you, but take me with you!”
Before I continue, I have to admit: I have more misdirected anger than you know. When men start talking about how they’ve got it hard, bombs go off in my head. “Are you not HEARING me? Do you not SEE what I go through? Do you not NOTICE your entitlement? Do you not REALIZE how hurt I am?” But if I can shut off my fear-triggered thoughts and listen long enough, I’ll find something incredibly important…
This is a blog about love and its deficit in our lives.
My boyfriend told me how hurt he was when a female colleague didn’t know his name so she called him, “the good-looking one” behind his back. My business partner told me how painful it felt to be lumped in with a generalized “men” who have done so much wrong to women. Another male friend went on a tirade about how Disney princes are even more damaging for self-esteem than Disney princesses. Men may not be as good at articulating how they’re feeling, but I think I hear what we’re all saying:
It’s an overwhelming cry from humans:
“I’m hurt too.”
It’s not about ranting (as I’m prone to do), complaining, and blaming. It’s about admitting to ourselves that we’re scared, alone, and afraid of being judged. It’s noticing that something’s not quite right and feeling like we have to ignore and hide it from the people we love the most.
It’s not men’s fault or a women’s issue. When we keep what we’re hurt by and afraid of bottled up inside of us, we nurture and feed it with our fearful and negative thoughts, until it becomes us.
But when we take it out and show it to each other so we can talk about it, cry about it, and then laugh about it, we heal ourselves and those around us, and take the power away from that unspeakable thing and put it into our own hands. It’s about coming together, not pulling apart, even when it gets hardest, saddest, and scariest.
Yashar Ali said it so perfectly in his latest brilliant article:
Ultimately, fear about being judged is related to one thing: feeling like you owe something to the people in your life. And what helped me break free was the realization that I don’t owe anyone anything. Seriously. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for who I am, I don’t owe anyone a perfect version of myself, I don’t owe anyone a version and construct of myself that makes them more comfortable.
And yet, Yashar, you do owe us something. You owe us the real you. And we owe each other, and him, the same.
We’re so afraid that if we’re honest about our deepest pain, we’ll lose each other’s love. That other people will see the ugly side of us and wont like it. But its that same vulnerability we’re afraid that will actually reward us ten-fold, like replenishing a dying species heals an ecosystem.
Like Yashar explains, unlocking our pain releases love into places we didn’t know we needed it and allows a flow of unstoppable positive movement that comes with loving ourselves JUST AS WE ARE.
An ex-boyfriend once told me, “If you are accepting and open, without trying to repress the way you feel, you’ll be fine. Remember, you can change the way you act but not the way you feel.” This is coming one of the men in my life who had the hardest time saying “I’m hurt too.” Ten years later, look at him fly.
Own Your Feelings
Notice when you feel something particularly uncomfortable, scary, or strong. Instead of racing to get that feeling to go away, or justify it with a thought like, “it’s not a big deal,” go into that feeling. Let it be. Where do you feel it? In your stomach, your throat, your heart? What does it feel like? Stay with that feeling as long as you can, let it get as loud as it can while you are processing it. Eventually, try and feel what is at its root, even if it doesn’t make any sense.
I was recently arguing with my boyfriend about something trivial like making dinner or how he said something. I am blessed with the most amazing boyfriend, who stopped what he was doing, and let me start to articulate what I was going through. Instead of pointing a finger at him and whatever he did to trigger my reaction, I focused on how I was feeling. He gave me the safe space and love I needed, and I was able to dig into the baggage behind my reaction, and just minutes later was balling in his arms about how sad I felt at age 8 when I couldn’t comfort my depressed dad, angry that my mom left him. I was misplacing A LOT of emotions in a small issue with my boyfriend I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER NOW.
We can give ourselves the space to heal without needing another person. I learned (still learning) through journaling and self-help books, and taking time alone to look back at something that upset me earlier in the day and process it in retrospect.
Letting my feelings be present and real, embarrassing and funny, sad and true, allows me to love the parts of myself I’ve been neglecting. It can teach us how to control our feelings instead of letting our feelings control us.
Healing ourselves is an important step in finding our highest calling and answering that call, so that we become our truest, most loved and loving selves.
And that is what this blog is about.