I expect a lot of you, as a man.
It’s not always fair.
To be honest, I’d rather not admit any of this and tuck it away like a secret instead. But I need to get these words out in the open, like a newly laundered sheet, to taste the tendrils of fresh spring air. For these words have been crumpled inside me far too long, gathering dust and spreading pain.
Sometimes, my expectations are steeped in the bubblegum songs of a teenage fantasy you’ll fail to live up to.
Sometimes, I require you to read my mind and know exactly what I want and need and be everything to me.
Sometimes, my expectations diverge from the rawness of reality.
Sometimes, I don’t even know what to expect of you.
It’s not fair, is it?
I am learning.
As I peel away the shiny layers of my expectations, indignation and uncertainty simmer underneath.
See, I’ve had so much anger toward men. That’s no secret, I’m sure. It still comes out in sighs and smart-ass comments, in the lightning-like flicker of my eyes. And that rage—well, it makes sense, pressed by terrible experiences that left deep scars in my heart. Because toxic masculinity is just that: it’s toxic and shouldn’t be tolerated.
I am healing. The poison of the past leaves my system, the blackened rivers of its dampening effects dry up, and new life takes root.
Buds appear on naked trees, dressing each branch with fragrant bonnets of color—and I become more willing to challenge the notion that all men are jerks or assholes. I begin to see the kinder, heartfelt shades of masculinity. And it’s still damn confusing.
But what I’m dying to tell you is this: I don’t always know how to relate to you, my sweet man.
I don’t always understand you.
But I am trying. I wish to know you.
I am a woman. I am like water; I dive deep and swim at the bottom of the ocean. I move constantly; fluidity pours itself upon me like an unexpected rain as my feet praise the forest floor. I step into the mystery time and time again, forever shrouded in the magic that dances in my womb, the intuition that grips my belly with invisible hands.
You are a man. You are like the earth, the sandy shore my waves crash upon. You are a tall oak tree in the forest that stays steady through every storm. Your muscles sing of responsibility and commitment. You like to think things through with reason and logic. You like to stand up and fight for something, a cause that has captured you.
On the bad days, it gets on my nerves. I wonder why the hell you’re so rigid. I wonder if you’re feeling anything, for the blank look that scampers across your face makes me so mad.
Why are you thinking so much? Why do you have to try to fix it when I tell you I’m upset? Are you even listening to me?
On the good days, I love the stability of your masculinity. I love its protective warmth and the way you stand up for what you believe in, the way you pray, the way you always show up for the people you love. I love the way you chop wood and do your taxes like you’re going into battle, alert to every last detail.
And so it is.
Often, it seems that men and women are so vastly different, as though there are canyons that separate us—jagged ravines that pulse with tension. So much gets lost in tangled webs of communication, where we remain frozen in time, annoyed and misunderstood.
There is a sea of pain between the sexes. There are so many wounds to be healed. Yet, there is incomprehensible beauty once we get past our own sh*t, the weird things we learned about relationships from society—and actually see each other.
My sweet man, when I part the drapes of my past experiences that sucked so damn much, I can actually see you.
I see your strength.
I see your joy.
I see your vulnerability.
I see your struggles, the way you keep things to yourself.
I see how deeply you love and how much you care.
I like this—how it feels to actually see you.
And we have so much in common, don’t we, my dear? Our humanity, our fear, our tenderness, our great thirst to be fully alive and have adventures that would make us feel like it was all worth it if we died tomorrow.
I am a woman. I shake my hips and feel. I gush like water, the great salt lakes that you can taste in my tears.
You are a man. You are steady and protective. You take responsibility, you take action, you think things through from a thousand different angles.
And it’s not always that simple, is it? We are both complex, and the lines blur. I know you feel a lot, too. And sometimes, I can be fiercer than anybody.
But we are dedicated to learning each other, every day. To discovering each other, every day. To being there for each other, every day.
It’s not always easy. Our wounds get rubbed, we say the wrong things, we get stressed and snippy, but we laugh so much.
Oh, my dear man, I don’t always know how to relate to you—and I openly admit that my expectations are unfair.
I am learning. Within this sweet cocoon we have built together, my wings unfurl from the daily nourishment of your devotion and care, my eyes are opening wider. And so is my heart.
I want you to know
The man you are
The man you used to be
The man you are becoming.
And it is awesome.