Thursday, August 20, 2009

Learning to Release Control into a Loving Embrace

If you have ever read David Deida, you likely know that he believes men do the holding and women need to be held. For most of us, that is our experience. We hold our wives or girlfriends when they are sad, or when we cuddle, but we might be never allow ourselves to be held.

I hadn't really though about this much until this last weekend when I was holding Jami (my wonderful girlfriend, who also happens to be a gifted therapist) and she commented that I rarely allow her to hold me. I reflected on her comment and realized she is right.

Since then I have been thinking about that truth. What I comes down to for me, and I think this might be true of most men, is that I am more comfortable being the emotional container for her than I am being vulnerable and surrendering control to someone else, even someone I love.

Yet I know that all of us men, even the meanest, strongest, most masculine man you might ever meet, have inner children who crave being held and to surrender to someone else who contains them. This is natural - it is NOT a sign of weakness, or being a girly-man.

Rather, it takes REAL strength - and security in our masculinity - to admit that sometimes we would like to be held, that we can be vulnerable and allow ourselves to surrender to someone else. This may not be our defining characteristic as men, but it is a part of who we are.

We NEED to not always be in control. Most of us spend our lives seeking to be in control of everything - our bodies, our jobs, our relationships, whatever - but control is really an illusion. In Buddhism, we think of this need for control as an attachment.
The most troublesome beliefs are related to our attach­ments, which are often hard to identify. Attachments are sim­ple beliefs—fantasies, in fact—that have become solidified as “truth” in our mind. They also partake of the energy of desire, which is based on the underlying belief that without some par­ticular person or thing, we can never be free from suffering.
Sure we seem to be in control, and it's often enough to keep our egos busy, but there is very little in life we can actually control, even our own minds (we discover this when we begin a meditation practice). It is our attachments, especially the attachment so many of us have to being in control, that leads to suffering.

But we do not have to live this way - and our primary relationship is a place we can learn how to release this attachment.

One way we can prepare ourselves for dropping our illusion of control in daily life is to practice doing so with our partners. We can allow her (or him) to hold us, and learn to release control into that loving embrace. And you know what? Most of us have partners who would enjoy giving us a few moments to relax into their arms and not be in control.

So this is now a part of my practice as a man and as a human being - to learn to surrender, to be vulnerable, and to relinquish control, even if it is only for a few moments each week.

No comments: