My Dear Readers,
I am grateful to return to writing for Loving Me More. During my time away, I traveled to the Justice Institute of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where I completed a year-long trauma certificate program in Aboriginal Focus-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma.
The program was excellent. As I sought to improve my skills as a Clinical Traumatologist, I learned more about myself as I continue my own journey of self-discovery. I greatly benefited from the experience and the relationships I formed, and was honored by my peers with a new name: Gentle Bear Who Walks Softly.
In this week’s writing, I speak to the tragedy of “male privilege,” which has wounded women, children, and men as well, and resulted in historical as well as intergenerational trauma within the African-American community.
Below is such a story……..
Dear Visible Man,
I am so overwhelmed, and I have to tell my story. I am an African-American woman mother of three children, and I am recently divorced from my husband in a marriage of 20 years.
I finally had enough after coming home exhausted from my second job and having him ask me if I could work overtime so we can get some bills paid. I just told him he had to leave. I did love him, but I wanted him to go out and hope that he would become the man that I knew he could be, because he wasn’t reaching that potential with me. I was finally able to accept that my ex-husband was never going to be the provider my family needed and would always continue to expect me to be the wage earner while he sat at home unemployed.
Three months later, he comes by and gives me $450.00 to buy clothing and food for the children. He was proud as he gave me the money, and I was shocked, but happy. I felt that he was finally living up to his potential.
Later on, I learned that he was working as a “life coach” to a woman who was 27 years his senior. This made me suspicious, since I knew that he wasn’t trained to be a life coach. As if that wasn’t enough, he was actually living with this woman and she had given him a cell phone for which she was paying the monthly bill. She had put him in her will so he would receive the house and car, and I later learned that the money he said he earned actually came from her!
Needless to say, I was stunned. I have been crying for three days. My ex-husband is a nothing more than a gigolo. He is selling his body to a woman who is older than his mother. He actually wants our children to meet her. I told him absolutely not.
Lately, he hasn’t been available for the children. They are always asking me why he doesn’t call or respond to their voicemails. What do I tell them? What do I tell our family and friends? He is not being truthful to anyone. People are starting to question me after talking to him.
I am so embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated. I just can’t stop crying. I need to stop crying. I wish he would just man up and stop being a ho.
Hurting & In the Dark (Seattle WA)
My Dear Woman,
I feel the pain and suffering as I listen to your words. I only ask that as your tears flow, please allow the body to continue letting go, releasing the pain, allowing the tears to flow.
In reading your letter, I am reminded of the fable “The Scorpion and the Tortoise.” In it, a tortoise who gives a scorpion a ride across a raging river on his back is stunned when the scorpion stings him halfway across, ensuring the demise of both animals. As they go down beneath the waves, the tortoise asks the scorpion why he stung him, to which the scorpion replies: “You knew who I was when you met me. I am a scorpion. I was only doing what comes natural for me.”
My Dear Woman, let be honest, for twenty years you were married to this person. For twenty years, he never provided for you or the children. During the entire marriage, while you held two jobs, he held none. What does this say for his commitment to supporting you and your partnership?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why did I terminate the marriage?
- If he had been consistently a non-provider for twenty years, why would he change at this time?
My Dear Woman, as a responsible parent, it is clear that you are seeking to protect your children. However ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I protecting them from?
- Why is it in their best interests to hide the truths of their father’s behavior?
- How will the children respond to me should they find out that I lied or covered up information regarding their father’s behavior?
FAMILY & FRIENDS
My Dear Woman, please remember that if we see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil, it is not because one is blind, mute or deaf. Rather it is because we have chosen silence. Have the willingness to ask yourself the following:
- Why has your ex-husband chosen not to be truthful to family and friends?
- After talking to him, why are the same people coming to you for answers?
THE LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE
My Dear Woman, your ex-husband may want to live in a made up world, but you must decide whether you and your children are going to join him. Assuming that you left your former spouse for the right reasons, why would you think he would transform into the “person you feel he could be?”
In twenty years of marriage, he showed you the reality of his inner self. Since you saw no hope for or intention to change, you left the relationship. Now, you are seeing behavior from him that validates your decision to terminate that relationship.
As parents, we must never lie to our children. However, it is crucial for the parent to decide how to tell the story and at what age the story should be told. To willingly lie to protect him may reinforce the pain you are seeking to prevent as well as create a troubled relationship between you and your children.
EMBARASSMENT, SHAME & HUMILIATION
My Dear Woman, You are feeling embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated. Why do you carry this burden? What specifically did you do? Working 1-2 jobs, providing for your family?
It appears that you have unwittingly fallen into “the trap” created by the “larger group,” that is, society, community and family. As individuals, all of us spend our lives in service to this “larger group.” These entities seek to control the individual by exerting social pressure or as in this situation, your embarrassment, shame & humiliation.
Having done nothing wrong, it is up to YOU and not the “larger group” to define you and dictate your direction. You are empowered, however only if you allow yourself to be.
My Dear Woman, language may change with the sands of time, but some behaviors and actions do not. In my day, there were men known as gigolos who preyed upon vulnerable women. This was a result of male privilege that reinforced the suffering of not only women and also the children who witnessed their sordid behavior and actions.
Your comments about his “failure to man-up” are incorrect. He is not a failure as a man. He has failed due to his unwillingness to live with fear and instead has chosen to continue with long experienced behaviors of using women and thus living in fear.
It is clear that he is able to seek employment, but that he has instead chosen to sell himself sexually under the guise of “life coach” to a vulnerable woman.
Allow your children to see the consequences of poor self-esteem, self-worth and the lack of self-validation. Allow them to see with their own eyes the traumatic wounds that it creates not only on others, but also on the individual who allows himself to be used in such a manner.
Let them stand at the crossroads…and hopefully they will choose to do what their father is unwilling to do. Love the self …and in doing so …learn to love the self MORE.
The Visible Man