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The mask

This morning I was having breakfast with my daughter when she pointed at my pajama and asked me what was written on it. I read it aloud and it said "Women who aspire to be like men lack ambition". I remember very well the day I bought that pajama. When I read the quote I didn't just think it was hilarious. I thought it was true and I felt a sense of pride and strength in just being a woman.

Today after reading it aloud again I felt very sad and thought maybe it's time to buy a new pajama.

Superiority of one gender over another has always been an issue in my life. Over the years I have experienced both extreme of the spectrum but the one that I would like to focus on today is the one that affected my Soul's condition the most: the dominance of the woman over the man. The injustice that we choose to perpetrate on others will always have a bigger impact than the one that we receive from others.

I have long reflected on how and why I got to hold on to such a distorted belief and the conclusion I came to is that the foundation of some of my views on men and women are the result of intergenerational wounds that have not been addressed by my ancestors and that have fallen into my laps as a painful inheritance which I now have the responsibility to address and eradicate. For centuries women have been oppressed, sexually and emotionally abused, controlled, mistreated and undervalued by men. In the past few years there has been a slow inversion of the trend and women have started to claim their bodies, freedom, value and dignity back which has caused equality of rights to become a more achievable goal than ever before, however the wounds created over centuries of injustice are not cured at the snap of a finger. After years of abuse and control there are a lot of intergenerational wounds that have been carried over into new generations like mine and they manifest as fears, anger and a desire to control the other gender which creates the same unbalance, just in the opposite direction.

If you had known me a decade ago I don't know if you would have called me an extreme feminist but the views that I had about women were certainly driven by the ingrained belief that women are superior to men and, as such, they should take the lead in a partner relationship. As a dominant woman, I felt I had the birthright to be adored, taken care of emotionally and physically while also dictating the couple's dynamic. The more I dominated, the more I felt appreciated and loved by the man. In fact, the definition of a "good" man for me was someone who would pander to my most unreasonable fits and requests, who would never challenge my anger and, most importantly, who would accept it and absorb it whenever it came up. A "good" man was someone who would keep my opinion higher than his own, who would let me take decisions on matters that related strictly to their own life and who would accept with enthusiasm my will to be the main decision maker and the leader of the couple.

After experiencing this type of codependent relationship for a few years, I realized that the satisfaction and synergy that seemed to be overwhelmingly fulfilling at its inception rapidly degraded into an addictive loop that left us unhappy and distant. What once was a strong and passionate love quickly transformed into an affectionate (but lukewarm) friendship.

The codependent loop that goes on between partners who nurture a gender-unbalanced relationship ends up reducing the sense of satisfaction that comes from the feeling of power (for the woman in this case) and the feeling of approval and validation for the man. Therefore, for it to be sustained over time it requires both parts to be in a compulsive need to fill their emotional addictions plus a sever lack of self love from the gender that is being dominated.

Luckily for us, 4 and 1/2 years into the relationship we were able to perceive the slithering dissatisfaction that colored most of our interactions and with the help of a random grain of introspection I came to the conclusion that it was necessary for both of us to break this cycle and move on to a different type of relationship.

Soon after the break up I didn't have a full understanding of the reasons behind my unloving behaviors. In fact, is more accurate to say that I was completely clueless. The only thing I knew was that I had been quite an unloving partner and something was wrong in the way I perceived men and myself. So, given my extremely black and white personality, my next logical move was to search for someone who was the exact opposite to my previous partner, i.e a dominant man.

It took me about a decade, another codependent relationship in the opposite direction and a divorce to find a proper description of the emotions driving my previous behaviors (*):

1) Desire to emasculate the man emotionally and sexually

2) Desire to gain power over, control and bully other women and

3) Desire to have an arrogant illusion about my own goodness

Today I am still not fully done with this process. I feel I've made huge progress but I still catch myself sometimes posing strong demands on men that play a meaningful role in my life. As always, I still have a lot of work to do but even just being able to see the dominating treatment as a sin is a great first step for me.

It feels terrible to think of all the pain that I have caused to some men in my life due to few but powerful emotions and I can't help thinking how important it is to have a humble and insightful approach to our life.

How many times I've told myself that I am in a good condition only to find out that I am in complete, utter denial on hundred of issues. So many times I have looked into that Soul mirror and told myself that I looked beautiful only to find out that I was wearing a beautiful mask.

We can easily deceive ourselves and believe that the mask is the reflection of our true self but, if we were really humble and willing to love, we would dig a little deeper, we would remove the mask and take a second look at ourselves without judging what we see. Then we would be able to see our real condition and make all the changes that we truly need to look naturally beautiful, so to speak. Being brutally honest with oneself is very hard but so essential to our progression.

There is no solution to a problem that is not considered such.

Recognizing our facade, or our "fake self", is difficult because we often believe that it IS us. As young children we learn very soon and very quickly that wearing a mask is good and makes us safe. The facade is born as a survival mechanism. Without it we would expose our true self, and unfortunately very often that's the part that our parents, or the world, like the least. So we learn to cover it and make it look different. The problem is that when we grow up we have spent so much time dressed up as someone else that we don't recognize our true nature anymore and we think our facade is the real us.

The first time that someone pointed out to me that I had "different versions of myself" depending on the person I was interacting with I couldn't understand what that meant. I thought it was normal to show selected parts of myself to different people, or maybe I should say to hide different parts of myself from people. I wasn't used to be spontaneous and genuine and I thought that was how we were all meant to be.

That remark has been one of the most precious gifts I have ever received from anyone and I hold that person dear to my heart for he was able in a split second to pierce through my facade and poke my genuine self causing the awakening of my awareness.

Of course my first reaction was to deny everything and say it was just a wrong assessment of me (another facade of course!) but thankfully I was humble enough to go back home and think about it again.

Could he be right? Was I being fake with people around me? Was I the friendly, good hearted person I thought I was or was I a double-faced head that turned depending on circumstances?

Damn he was right. The answer was very clear. Even if I was never really aware of it, I had tens of masks that I wore in different situations and now that someone pointed that out to me I couldn't deny it.

"What I am supposed to do now?"

At the time I thought I knew myself a little. I was still figuring out a lot of stuff but I thought I knew at least who I was. This new information came in like a bowling ball knocking down all my beautifully aligned skittles. It threw me into chaos and I clearly remember thinking that I had to make a decision: should I hold on to the person I think I know and deny all this new info OR should I accept the truth and dismantle myself to create a new, more authentic person?

I think I had a headache that day. I thought hours and hours about this one thing. It was a big deal after all. I started to weight out all pros and cons in this endless internal dialogue and I remember asking myself if I wanted to become a better person given that I had just discovered I wasn't as good as I thought. The answer was yes...but at what cost?

"I would have to destroy my current self, lose the sense of direction that I think I have, melt myself down in the pot of progress and remold myself into a better person hoping that I will take the right steps along the way".

I was afraid of all the unknowns that this choice entailed. I felt this new path was like a thin line that divided the realm of certainly from the abyss of confusion. I could very easily lose balance and fall into chaos.

So I asked myself the following two questions:

1) Do I desire the final result with all my heart and soul?

2) Do I believe that the final result is worth all the struggles that I might have to go through?

My answers were Yes and Yes. So, in Kusko's words** I told myself "Bring it on!".

That's the story of how I broke my own legs that day and lifted myself up with the help of a pair of friends that are still my support today: Desire and Faith.

I think it's needless to say that this path has been the toughest I have ever walked. But big efforts bring big results too and when I look at myself in the mirror today I am so happy to see more of my true self. She's a little bitten up in some places and she needs a lot of repairs in others but damn...I like her more than the most beautiful mask I have ever worn in my entire life.


**Kusko's words before the fall (from min. 3:00):

For more info on inter-gender issues please watch:

* For more info in the facade please watch:


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