~ on learning ~ (how to love a good man)

Stand, initially at a distance, though close you may want to be.
Let your gaze move from the outside to look, to see within
the temple of his body, beneath his bones and skin.
Observe the quality of his structure
formed from a lifetime of hard learning and an ancestry imprinted, passed down without choice, or consent, without the guaranteed gift of acuity.

Quietly witness, how he holds himself upright in life’s fast moving stream.
How he struggles to understand, to withstand the hurt, humiliation and expectation that humanity heaps upon him because of his gender.
Observe the ways he has tried to remain tender, supple, in his efforts to bend, to yield and yet not break. Even as his peers, as the patriarchy, beg him to conform, to become, be, one of the boys. As our culture continues to create a confused criteria and quest for him become a ‘real and better man’.

Check his hobbies, his habits and hopes, they can signal where his heart might lead him.
Check his escape routes, where he goes to get away from life’s hectic pace. Where he goes when he leaves you so that he can be alone, relieved temporarily, of life’s roles and responsibility.
Try not to worry or wonder, why in this moment he has turned away, trust as you can, the timing of his truth and acknowledge, that we all need time alone.
For in the observing and honouring of his boundaries and deep needs, you create the same time and gift to develop and hone your own.
And when you meet again, you can share together, clearly and cleanly, your feelings, your deep desires, insights and wisdom.

Look at the callouses on his hands, or their mental equivalent – his deep, internal concerns.
How they have been formed by the repeated rub of trying to make things smooth, get things right.
His hands, his mind, that fumble, feel and have to find their way across life’s slippery surfaces, making myriad mistakes along the way.
His hands and mind – sometimes strong and supple, sometimes sensitive and aware, sometimes cold, tired and numb.
But always pushing, carving, creating and caressing each imperfect part of himself into another messy or magical moment.

Watch for the way he second guesses himself, or chooses to shoulder his way through the world.
Sometimes bold and assured, sometimes uncertain and scared.
Remember that he too, does not know all the answers.
When he is down, angry or confused, look for the sunsets in his eyes – the subtle warmth that forms after the storms have washed over and passed away.
Lean in, and let your own resentment pass like evening clouds, for when they are gone they reveal to all, the clarity and sparkling beauty of the darkness in our night.

Teach him tenderly the language of your body.
Help him attune to your sighs, your subtleties and the soft spots where your hidden sorrows lie.
Ask him with words and without, to honour your physical temple as you gently and honestly, lead him to your sacred spots of surrender.

Do not rush to please him or pretend.
Pause, appreciate and prolong your own perusal of his fineness, revel in his rising spirit, linger in the loveliness of your shared and sacred explorations and discovery.

Move slowly over him, like a late summer breeze, and let him rest.
Let him fall into his heart – the part we all know, can be so hard to access.
And let him stay there, and if it arises, let him cry and release every fear and abandonment he’s ever felt.
Grace him with the same gifts you offer your girlfriends – a soft place to fall, the infinite acceptance of a sister, your soulful, simple love.

Even if you have known him for decades, gaze upon and into him, with new depth, searching out the truth of your togetherness. Look for the reasons your hearts have not strayed, but chosen to stay true.

Hold him gently as he fails.
Resist the urge the berate and be right.
For as he shows you his vulnerable under belly, he offers you his deepest fear of exposure.
Do not further emasculate him,
soften to meet his tender wounds.
Become his balm.
He knows his failings.
He needs to know you love him
despite them, that you respect him, regardless.

Listen in to what he doesn’t say.
His words and emotions are often barricaded by ancient barriers.
Give him the time and space he needs to absorb your questions, to reflect in his own way, to answer what he can, when he can.
Let him be your lover, partner or friend. But burden him not with being all the characters in your whole life cabaret.
Leave a range of other roles for those beyond your sacred relationship.
Let him know who he is to you.
And who you will be – imperfect, impassioned, invested – as you step up fully to meet him in return.

For all the ways there are to love a good man, our real love begins with deeply knowing and honouring ourselves.
For he will follow our lead, or naturally fall away.
Every day as we continue to commit to ourselves and our own sweet hearts – with compassion, sincerity and truth – we offer him the gracious opportunity to do the same.

And so beautiful friends, as we learn to love ourselves, may we…

Stand, initially at a distance
though close you may want to be.
Let your gaze move
from the outside, to look, to see, within
the temple of your body
beneath your bones and skin….

(C) Chandu Bickford 2018