Mansplaining Yields Healing

Mansplain, verb: (of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing
(Source: English Oxford Living Dictionaries)

Last night, at a client event for my internship, I found a chocolate fountain. I couldn’t resist dipping a second stick of extra-puffed marshmallows under the melting deliciousness, and I paid for it by staining my white top.

With an escape to the restroom and quick wardrobe innovation involving my kimono-shawl knot-styled to cover the mess, I was right back to find my girlfriends (the ones whom I had originally left for the chocolate fountain).

I approached them with a how-ridiculous-does-this-knot-look hand motion and skeptical facial expression inquiry, to which a nearby male interjected, “You look great, that looks awesome.

“It’s her outfit,” nodding at my friend, “we were making fun of.”

His initial comment was telling enough– despite the event’s complimentary Prosecco (or maybe because of it) our two energies were not aligning.

“What’s wrong with her outfit?” I snapped. Besides nothing. My comment was a misfire however, considering he ignored it to continue talking at me and in my direction:

“I have to say I’m not a fan of that necklace though. Maybe because I’m a guy, I don’t know.

“But you know girls only wear necklaces like that to impress other girls, right? You know that’s the only reason why girls do that, right??”

“Are you trying to tell me what I may or may not be doing intentionally?”

“I mean it’s not for us guys, it’s for each other, you must know.”

Is this what that socioculturally-derived 21st century term mansplaining was all about?

“No, no,” I interjected.

“Are you telling me, as a man, about something that my entire sex supposedly does? Are you trying to mansplain to me my own intention behind wearing this necklace?”

The complimentary Prosecco was getting me a little bit feisty, and I knew my new rooftop-friend wasn’t prepared to get such backlash.

Mansplaining,” he scoffed.  “Yeah– yeah, I was mansplaining!” he retorted back, matter-of-factly.

With a Champagne flute in hand and a knotted-kimono covering my chocolate stain, the words well don’t flew off the tip of my tongue, spicy and sharp, and I glared into his eyes until he got the hint and turned away. I faced my new friends, almost uneasy about how they might handle my moment of fiery spirit. They thanked me, and we continued laughing and dancing about.

Though we had moved on, the man came up to me minutes later.

“I’m sorry,” he said, passing by.

“Thank you,” I said curtly.

It was my turn to speak matter-of-factly.


I share this story as a reflection on the way I could have better handled this situation. I got the man to apologize, yes, but aside from temporary egotistical victory, what good is that really?

Sans the mind-alternation of the complimentary beverages, I could have helped this man see that his insight was not only unsolicited, but unjustified and even condescending.

That maybe, this was my favorite necklace and I wasn’t wearing it for anyone but me, regardless of a male or female audience.

And that at the core of it all, he wasn’t speaking from a loving place, or to me as his equal. I could have agreed that he had every right to have his own opinion, but shared that his extended, entitled, so-claimed awareness over a population of humans whose experiences he could never empathize with was unjust and unfair and even ignorant.

And if I could have connected with him and helped him understand that in a calm and loving manner, I could have engaged in healing with just one person; healing that would ripple in his future engagements and in mine, too.

I reflect back on this interaction last night as a lesson of mine in patience and boundless love. A lesson in embracing courage and speaking my truth yes, but doing so in a kind, constructive and empathetic manner.

It appears to me that with every pained, frustrating or instigating experience, there is an opportunity for healing. Life will continue to present us with chances for healing, though they don’t often show up beautifully upon the first glance. I am learning to pay attention to the triggers, for they are some of my best teachers in this healing journey.

I hope we meet again, rooftop party friend. Because next time we do, I’ll be wearing one of my many flashy necklaces, and I will welcome you with a hug– or at least a cheers to healing.

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@Goodgrateful: The beautiful nature-mirrors that aided in my reflection the following morning. La Jolla, California.

You Weren’t Meant To Save Each Other

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Previously published by Thought Catalog at http://www.thoughtcatalog.com. The original article can be found here.


You and your partner will never be able to rescue each other: but there is someone else who can and will.

This is a story about an ego-love: a love that you love to hate and hate to love.

An audacious, fiery, carefree, exhausting love. A try-hard love, a defensive love, an I-swear-it love and a not-enough love. A love that drives you crazy and makes you second guess and pushes you away and keeps you coming back. A love where you’re never on the same page, because when one of you is up, the other is down. A love that you found, or perhaps, it found you, to prove something– to rectify and fix something. It arose to try and save you, to save them, or to save each other. This is a story about a rescue.

I wanted to save him, to heal him. Because in doing so, I was proving that I, someone like me, was deserving of and capable of being saved, too. Losing him, losing the battle of ‘saving’ him (because you will always lose in an ego-love), was the ultimate death and torture of my ego and the self-devised narrative of this worthiness-rescue game.

I was always on my toes with him. I knew from the very moment we began that he would outrun me. He would exhilarate and exhaust me, for as light and reckless as I wished to be, I had a passionate heart that weighed me down and an always-at-it-head that grounded me. But I ran. And I kept up with him, for a little bit.

I learned to play the games: to return not-so-playful and all-too-true jabs, to be a little more careless and a lot more competitive. I learned to love the way he knew how to love. But I never unlearned my own ways of loving. And sometimes, I would sneak in droplets of my love-water, biting the bullet of ego-jabs, to try and nurture his garden with encouragement, support and faith. I so badly wanted to help him grow and reach his sunlight. But his walls were solid and his knives sharp, and my efforts to drop barriers and release my light left me unarmed and burned. Despite it all, my hope and I remained desperately devoted to him.

After the failure of “us”– after the failure of my rescue– I fell into a deep depression, suffering withdrawals from my pain-addiction to him and clinging onto a dear, toxic, unhealthy, false sense of life.

I fell sick for two whole weeks when he finally left. I lost my voice. I became incapable of speaking this very trauma-induced pain of him, this pain of my own mind. In fact, I had lost my mind.

I went to all of the dark places, because I convinced myself that that’s where I needed to go to find him. And my ego and I would pull us both out of there, into light, into safety, into love.

I know now that he’ll never come back to me. Not that I need him to, in my healthier state of self-love. For he knows he’ll never be able to give me what I need, even if I sometimes forget it. He won’t respond to, address or hear my attempts of reaching out or reminiscing, because he knows that I’ll come around and one day, once again remember he can’t love me the way that I can love myself. And that will hurt him and guilt him all over again.

When he finally left me, for the last time– emotionally, mentally, physically, psychologically– he looked me in my eyes and said, “You are a beautiful person.”

And after all of the hurt, the heartache, the mind games and the ego-pain, I felt like maybe, a small shard of my love did really get through. Maybe, after it all, a piece of me was able to reach him.

That, I will never know. But I will remember that moment forever, because it marked the first day of my next and final rescue. The only and the most important one: the rescue of myself, from my own mind. And I knew then that I would be the only one to carry myself into salvation– into love– and that I was the only one standing in my own way. And I knew then that I would be victorious. I will be my own savior. And he will be his own savior. And we will both be beautiful.

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Let Us Choose Light

In a very small town in the smallest state of the country, there is a tradition among my close friends and our families to celebrate the winter solstice. We voyage across the country and across the street to circle around a bonfire during one of the busiest weeks of the year. Add in a powerful gong ceremony performed by a talented local friend and her words to remind us of the untethered connection and symbolism between nature and our lives; the winter solstice is the longest night of the year and it marks the lengthening of lightness in the days leading us to summer.

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Sunset on the pond, December 24, 2016.

Past ceremonies asked that we toss a stick into the fire representing something that no longer serves us, and then another to wish something into our lives for the upcoming year. This year, in response to some of the uncategorized and disheartening happenings of 2016, we altered our performance. We reflected on our heavy year and focused on something that we loved about it. How can we incorporate those pieces of ourselves and our lives that we love? How can we cultivate more of that this year?

I thought about my whirlwind year: spending four months in South America, conquering my fear of singing at open mics, volunteering with my state’s chapter of Women March on Washington and my upcoming plans to move to San Diego (stay tuned for cross-country posts!!). With a whole lot of smiling and maybe even a tear, I wished for myself to continue following my intuition and desires despite unconventionality or others misunderstanding. My deepened relationship with my heart and intuition is after all, what I love most about myself- and if you know me, you may know my heart lives on my sleeve.

Perhaps for that reason, one of the many devoted mama bears and hostess of the annual celebration of light and dark, Mama Pilk, asked me to write something this year. At the conclusion of my poem, our gong spiritual leader voiced,

“You can only see the stars when it’s dark out.”

“Or when you choose to look up,” said Mama Pilk. And our circle squeezed together just a little tighter.

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The whole high school gang fireside and full of wine.

 

Two Thousand-and-Seventeen
Olivia Morrissey, Dec. 2016

Two thousand-and-seventeen.
I am 23.
Life has hurt me and it has scared me
It has graced me and humbled me.
Just as it has you all.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing bits of the world and I have grown up encompassed in endless love.
And this is what I’ve learned:

That happiness is gratitude and it’s about all you have than what you can’t see
And that love is the common tongue trans-culture universally
That it is so much more about who you’re with instead of where
And that peace comes from celebrating our differences rather than what is shared.

I’ve learned that true hope is not never having felt the darkness;
It is having been immersed in it and still choosing to see the light.
And strength is not being devoid of weakness;
It is how we accept our weaknesses and hold them equally tight.

I’ve learned that sometimes, things must hit rock bottom.
They must get to the lowest of the low; the darkest of hours
In order for them rise to lightness once again:
The winter solstice; karmic powers.

Two thousand-and-seventeen.
I feel a shift and a transformation
I find solace realizing the reason I’m here right now
To stand for the beautifully diverse people of my nation
It is why we’ve all found ourselves here; under the stars at this time
It is your call and truth to right now
As it is mine.

And it is often not what we’re dealt, but how we choose to react that makes all the difference.
So let us choose not what’s easy, but rather what’s right.

Let us choose hope. Let us choose strength. Let us choose each other. Let us choose love.

And let us choose light.