Day 99 of 100 days of Blogging
After spending a week with my parents in Florida, I boarded a Southwest Flight back to Baltimore-Washington International Airport with a cup of Starbucks coffee, a backpack and a purse. Walking down the aisle, I looked around to find a seat, noticing a man sitting in the aisle seat with an empty window and middle seat.
I gestured to the window seat and asked if anyone was sitting there. He replied, “No,” and immediately stood up. In the next moment, he asked if I would like him to hold my coffee while I got settled.
Me: Yes, thank you.
Man: Do you have anything to put into the top bin?
Me: Yes, my backpack.
Man: Here, let me do that for you.
Me: Thank you.
As I slid into my window seat, I reached for my coffee and the next wave of support showed up.
Man: I can hold it while you get settled. Take your time. Put on your seat belt. I’m not in a rush.
Me: Thank you.
I could feel the fluttering and increased beating of my heart. This exquisite attention and kindness. I could feel a tinge of pleasure, discomfort and agitation as I let down my guard of independent, powerful woman. Receiving requires a level of vulnerability and intimacy, even with a stranger who is offering to help you. I could have declined help at each step and done it myself. For the experience of connection, I had to be open to receive.
Throughout the flight, the man handled the interactions with the flight attendant by offering me the first snacks, handing me my drink, and at the end of the flight, took my backpack off the rack and placed it in the seat for me.
The man was attentive and kind. It felt really good to receive his generous, no-strings attached offering.
A few years ago, Nicole Daedone, founder of OneTaste brought something to my attention in a course I was taking in New York. As I described an intimate, vulnerable moment with my partner, she used my description to demonstrate to everyone in the class that this is what it looks like when a woman treats a man like a king for giving her 15 minutes of the kind of attention she gives to him all the time.
Ouch! I could feel the sting of humiliation. I shared the intimate experience in class because I felt I had opened to my partner with another level of vulnerability and real connection (which she also acknowledged as a breakthrough for me.) I really let my partner all the way in to my heart and soul. That was the true experience for me.
What was also true is that it brought attention to the fact that when I received even a morsel of time and attention from a man, I would become like the actor playing the role of Oliver in the musical; a half-starved orphan boy who had the courage to ask for more. “Please, sir, may I have a little more?”
Could I please have a little more attention, support, love?
Treating men like kings.
I learned that growing up. Men were to be served and waited on. Even if the women bitched and complained about it sometimes, serving them was the key.
(I know men who grew up with the same thing. Women were the queens and men were here to serve them. My experience is not about dissing men. It is to share my experience that is out of balance.)
After caring for my father who had a stroke a few months ago, noticing how my mom and I were waiting on him, the whole scene felt familiar. Healthy or unhealthy, I was doing the same things for my father. Hovering and waiting on him.
I did the same thing for my first husband who I divorced after ten years. The words that shut me down, “If I do that for you, what else will you want? You are so demanding!”
I began to modify my behavior with my second husband. But, there was still an element of coming to attention when he arrived home. It was a natural pattern for me to take care of men. (He died after we were together for seventeen years. Not from lack of care. )
Noticing the feelings I had on the plane woke me up to a new awareness. My world is shifting. The men in my life are attentive and kind just like me. If I had been the person sitting on the aisle seat, I would have offered the same kind assistance. So, why act like this is unusual? It is my new normal!
Walking in the underground metro tunnel in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia yesterday, I had an experience.
A man was running down the hallway yelling, “Miss, Miss, you dropped your gloves.”
I was walking past a woman and asked, “Did you drop your gloves?”
She stopped and looked down, then turned around and saw the man running towards her. Her face got bright and she smiled. “Thank you!”
The man’s eyes were bright and shiny. He was smiling broadly. “You’re welcome.”
I was giggling and smiling and felt so happy.
The man turned back to his friends. “I love doing things like that!”
Me: I love seeing people doing things like that!
Everyone was smiling and laughing. The sensation of connection and joy was palpable in the tunnel. Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about! All of us noticing, offering support, receiving assistance, awake and aware and alive!
Let’s co-create more of that!
Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voices to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, an organization that inspires women and men to heal a story, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership. Andrea discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to live life fully after the deaths of her brother, son and husband. In addition to serving as Heal My Voice’s Executive Director, Andrea is an Orgasmic Meditation Teacher and Sexuality Coach.
She is following her intuition as she collaborates with women and men in organizations and travels around the world speaking, teaching and leading workshops. Her passion is authentically living life and supporting others in doing the same. To connect with Andrea and learn about current projects go to: www.andreahylen.com and www.healmyvoice.org.