You might ask, what does one do after receiving feedback from one’s guides that one has gender prejudices?
Does one crawl under the porch and lick one’s wounds? Does one curl up and die?
As a lover of the Growth Movement, I enjoy knowing about myself, warts and all.
And I know that having one’s deficiencies scrutinized and laid bare (“being called on one’s rackets”) is an opportunity to be rid of them. So I don’t mind the feedback.
But, still, what does one do with it? Let me relate three things that arose for me to illustrate what one might do on the awareness path.
Raising to Awareness
When my guides raised the matter of my having deeply-buried gender biases without providing details, my first reaction was to feel all at sea and deprived of assistance and then I realized how brilliant their mode of intercession was.
They had raised the matter to my awareness and, once raised to awareness, it could not then be hidden from me. Usually raising something to awareness is all we need to do with the matter. Awareness is a natural solvent and takes care of the rest.
You remember the story of the centipede who was told that it had 100 legs? From that moment on, it couldn’t walk naturally. It kept tripping over its 100 legs which it was now painfully aware of.
So this was one immediate thing that was done: the matter was raised to my awareness. The rest followed naturally.
Making Use of Available Resources
The second thing occurred when I watched a movie called Hannibal: Rome’s Worst Nightmare. Having gender prejudices in the forefront of my mind now, I flashed on how much, in my own mind, my Mother resembled Carthage and my Father resembled Rome.The metaphor that Carthage and Rome presented allowed me to see my gender biases in stark relief.
I’m not saying that my Dad absolutely resembled Rome; he didn’t. I’m saying that a young child made him into a bogey man – merciless, greedy and self-absorbed. But he wasn’t that.
And my Mother became the cultured Carthage in my mind – loving, nurturing, and regal.
The story implies that Carthage just wanted to exist and Rome hounded her. If that were the case, what my awareness would have taken in would be simple love/hate – hatred for the Father (Rome) and love for the Mother (Carthage) – and that would go far to explaining my gender split.
But what made the movie more germane to me was that it wasn’t that simple. Carthage also largely abandoned Hannibal. They wouldn’t send him the supplies and men he needed and more or less left him to his fate.
I recalled times when my Mother would not support me. One day, soon after I moved out of the house so that she could have privacy with her newfound boyfriend, she came to my new apartment, such as it was, and found me cooking a potato in oxtail soup. That was all I had money for.
Instead of giving me money so I could eat better, she just laughed – I guess at the spectacle. Her son had fallen from steaks and pot roast to oxtail soup. Did he appreciate his mother more? I projected the thought onto her that she’d abandoned me.
Moreover she also seemed to have abandoned me by going downhill and then falling asleep with a cigarette in her hand and dying. Mother and Carthage abandoned their protector sons.
I made all men Rome and all women Carthage after my parents had their first fight (the first Punic War?) when I was age seven.
So a matter, once raised to awareness, remains in the forefront of one’s mind through all our activities. Even a movie becomes grist for the mill and is drawn into the process of self-discovery.
Every new thing I did was a potential source of revelation on what my guides might be speaking about, which I’m sure is what they knew would happen.
Calling Oneself on One’s Own Numbers
The third thing involves calling oneself on one’s own numbers. The alternative to calling oneself is to hide and wait for others to see and say something. As long as they don’t see it, hey, I’m OK. I can continue. I can speed until I’m caught, right?
Of course calling ourselves can get us into hot water, especially if we do so to one who gunnysacks (one who blames, stores resentments and carries them around). But we’ll grow from it. And to me that outweighs all the potentially-bad things that can happen.
One can excuse, justify or deny feedback so as to preserve one’s own self-image. One can even ping-pong it. “You seem to have a tendency to excuse your behavior.” “Well, YOU seem to have a tendency to excuse YOUR behavior.” These are ways that we fail to make use of feedback, to try it on and test it out. These ways don’t facilitate our growth and heaven knows we need growth at this moment.
So I explored my relationships with my ex-partners, etc., to see if I could find why I have an edge with some women I relate to – and all men. Because I was the runt of the litter, communication was often an issue for me.
But now I saw that communication wasn’t the issue. I saw a deeper issue.
I realized that my Mother was the source of my self-esteem, good estimation of myself, encouragement, etc. So much of what I did – as youth-group president, school president, exchange scholar, etc – I did because I wanted her to be proud of me. My mother being proud of me was the most important thing in my life.
On the odd occasion, when I did something bad or wrong, a single word from her was enough to have me feel ashamed. I remember sending in a silly letter to the editor when I was away on an exchange and my Mother sent it back with the word “Ugh” on it. That was enough. I was devastated.
One thing I found super-difficult to abide. My Mother would lock herself away in her room on occasion.
That was difficult to bear because it meant she’d withdrawn her good estimation of me and that was chiefly what I suffered from. She was the source of everything loving and good in my life and when I was out with my mother, life went rapidly, cataclysmically downhill for me.
In any relationship these days, I go crazy when my partner appears to rescind her good estimation of me (usually after our first fight). It’s the withdrawal of good estimation that prompts me to skew my relationships with women.
I could have noticed the matter and dismissed it. But in the process of uncovering our unconscious patterns, it’s useful to take the process further, “own up” to what we’ve seen, and actually share it. That completes the experience and “fixes” it in our memory, which is what I’m doing here.
So what I’ve tried to illustrate here are three growth processes: (1) raising something to awareness, (2) seeing everything as grist for the mill, and (3) calling ourselves on our own numbers.
There are other things I’ve noticed, such as my unconscious appraisals of women, but I’ll leave that to a future article.