To the Men in My Life
Two people who will always be dear to me: my mom and my first boyfriend.
I recently heard “through the grapevine” that because of one picture I had reposted on Facebook, a certain group of women in a local business organization have concluded that I hate men. These are women I know personally and who (I thought) knew me. But I tend to be a little naive because I forget that not everyone in this world is sincere and forthcoming. It’s interesting that I’m judged on one post, and that this misperception is now “office gossip”. The only reason I am addressing this is because these women have allowed it to affect their treatment of my business. Posts don’t get re-shared and non-members’ services are promoted over mine.
Below is the “offending” picture which was actually originally posted by one of my male FB friends. It is obviously a staged photo. the man is NOT hurt because he’s laughing, the blood and hatchet are clearly NOT real. He’s even smiling and eating a cookie. It was a simple and humorous reminder to men to not forget Valentine’s Day.
Rather than be angry with this little “gossip group”, I decided to really examine why this group would be led to this belief. Was it something about me or them? Maybe I should look at my relationship with men. I learned a long time ago that if something sparks any kind of reaction in you, good or bad, it’s time to look at it because there’s usually a learning experience involved.
I consider myself one of the lucky women. I have had and continue to have wonderful men in my life. My boyfriends, fiancees and lovers have always treated me with respect, admiration and love. We knew how to have fun and share adventures, and I always felt cherished. My private hand-written journals are full of glorious memories. Women who hate men or men who hate women usually come from bad relationships. I can honestly say that I have not had a bad relationship with any significant man. Why I chose not to marry some of them is nobody’s business. What’s important is that we chose to not go down a road that might not have been the best road for both of us for whatever reason. Parting was sometimes difficult, but it wasn’t destructive. We were left with fond memories of romantic escapades of which most women only dream, and I never left with regrets or longing for what could have been.
I’m a “baby boomer” child of immigrant parents, who struggled to make a life for us in this new country in the 1950′s. Their marriage was far from perfect. My father was the traditional “head of the household”, and my mother was a woman ahead of her times. She believed that a marriage should be a partnership. Both were stubborn in their beliefs and needless to say, our home was not a “quiet” one and was sometimes unpleasant. My father also believed that “philandering’ was his right and that a wife should always obey. They divorced when I was 18 yrs old. So does that mean I hate my dad? Not at all. I’m sad that he continued to be narrow-minded through most of his life and never realized what he had in a wife and family until too late. I do remember good times with him whenever he chose to be with us. Probably what cemented my free-spirit and independence was watching how my mother refused to be suppressed into a role of obedient or subservient wife and how she never lost her individuality and courage.
Despite the drama in my parents’ marriage during my childhood, I always felt loved. I did not grow up with hate. During the last few years of my mother’s life, we talked about when we first came to this country and lived on 5th Street in Philadelphia. She was so happy that I could still remember the house we had lived in at that time and some of the adventures we had. When we talked about my dad, her words were always, “He did the best he could.”
As I am writing this, I’m discovering what a healing process this has been for me. There was a time when I was angry with my father for what he had put my mother through. But what I have also realized is that he was also instrumental in forging strength in her and in me. I learned at an early age what I did not want in a husband or a relationship, and I say this with love. Among so many other life lessons, my mother showed me how important mutual love, respect and appreciation are in a friendship or any relationship.
So when I think of my “fantasies” or men whom I admire and would enjoy being around, these are at the top of my list and not exactly in order of preference: George Clooney, not only for his charm and good-looks, but more for his humanitarian efforts (and for a fun roll in the hay), Placido Domingo, for the twinkle in his eyes when he sings, the passion in his voice and his incredible talent (we wouldn’t have to roll in the hay . . . his singing to me would be enough!), my “guy buddies” (and you know who you are) who accept me as an equal in intelligence and ability, who value me for my uniqueness and strength as a woman and who have a sense of humor and appreciate mine (I can’t tell you enough what a “turn-on” that is for me), and the husbands and boyfriends of my women friends who nurture and respect their significant other’s individuality.
For me, this has been a great trip down memory lane. My mom always told me that people who judge you, spread lies and unkind things about you are in a bad place themselves –they’re feeling unhappy and powerless. I’m grateful that I have never felt powerless. I don’t live in an abusive relationship. I live a life for which am grateful every day. I don’t find it necessary to cut out anybody’s image from a photo or album because I can’t stand them. My life is a dream come true, and every day I look forward to the adventures life brings.
So here’s to all the men who have been the source of my wonderful memories of love and romance, thank you, and know that I remember and treasure my times with you. Most importantly, to all my true friends, men and women alike, who take the time to know me, accept me for who I am and still love and appreciate me, please know how much I hold you in my heart.