The Chink in the Alpha Female’s Armor
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.
Why can’t we be ourselves with our mates?
I never really thought about it until a Yule party I attended in December 2003. My ex was being nice for a few weeks of that month—no yelling, no put-downs, no firebreathing comments under his breath—and just to be hopeful that we’d work out our problems and he might one day accept my spirituality, I’d invited him to come along to a holiday party and Winter Solstice Circle that I’d been looking forward to all year.
Always before, I’d gone alone with his disapproval because he wasn’t interested in my spirituality or didn’t like my friends or just didn’t want to leave the house. And because he didn’t want to go, he didn’t like that I went alone. But I would assert my independence and go alone, have a great time, and then dread the ride home to face him.
So that year, it surprised me when he readily accepted my invitation, saying he wanted to get to know my friends better. He’d snarled at these friends before, so I didn’t believe him. We were getting along well for a few weeks and I didn’t want him to be uncomfortable there, and I knew he would be. I was explicit in what would happen—a huge potluck dinner by candlelight, one or two people with obvious piercings and tattoos he wouldn’t appreciate but most up to his “normal-looking” standards, maybe some Tarot readings, and a lighthearted circle casting that would include a humorous chocolate theme. He insisted he was interested and that he could be sociable at any event, and that he really wanted to participate.
When we arrived, my friends greeted him warmly. He stood against the wall—looking probably like I did at most of his gala black-tie events—and sent shockwaves of I-don’t-want-to-be-here through a room full of empaths. He was ready to leave almost instantly, but I pressed to stay for the whole evening, especially since I was to lead the evening ritual as a High Priestess. He did eventually relax a little and hold some intellectual conversations with some of the engineers and psychologists wearing Polo shirts and festive ties and drinking something nonalcoholic. He even admitted that my friends weren’t the multipierced, overtly tattooed, blue-haired, half-naked, pot-smoking freaks he’d been expecting (though I have those, too!), but still he refused to stand in the circle I led. For as long as we were there, no one at the party was comfortable.
Many of the people at that party lost respect for me as a High Priestess deep in her Second Degree, and some who had asked me to teach them changed their minds and openly questioned those who still wanted my spiritual guidance. Because of the way I behaved with my mate present, they didn’t see me as a worthy leader. I was hurt by the comments I heard after the party, but it made me question their observation: that I wasn’t the same person when I was with my mate.
After thinking about it, I realized it was true. I would lead a spiritual event, then on the way home to him, my energy would withdraw deep into my shell, as I would dread his reaction to my being gone, regardless of how he’d spent his time in my absence or with which Internet cutie. For as much as I wanted to share myself with him, he didn’t like all my facets and tried to obscure them. I could say that it didn’t matter if he liked it and that he just had to tolerate it, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted him to accept these sides of me and not try to change them or hide them from the world or give me dirty looks when I insisted they were part of me. No, really, I didn’t want him to just accept them—I wanted him to nurture them— but acceptance would have been more than I could realistically hope for. The best he could do was tolerance, and even that lessened the more I tried to keep my own identity.
Looking back now, now from this vantage point of having separated myself from my ex and being independent and doing the things I want to do and really coming out into the world as my own person—something that I squelched back in my college days to keep the peace with the man I was to marry—I now know that it was true when my friends said I wasn’t the same person when he was around. I wasn’t. I pulled in my energy and my being and changed myself into something I wasn’t so he would be happy, or at least, less angry with me and the rest of the world.
So it’s easy to see now with my friends and co-workers, and even with people I don’t know that well. Most of them are different with their mates around or when they start to think about their mates’ opinions of their activities. Most of them can’t really open up and be themselves like they do when it’s just us. I’d like to think it’s just Beta females, but it isn’t. I don’t hang with that many Beta females, and I probably wouldn’t notice so much with them. I see it all around me.
It’s the new acquaintance, who’s the most hyperactive and independent woman I’ve ever met, but she can’t come to a Gathering at my house because her husband will be home that evening and he won’t want to come along and won’t want her to go with her girlfriends. Déjà vu!
It’s the strong-willed and charismatic friend who brings her mate to a Gathering at my house and becomes uncharacteristically passive in his presence, carefully translating for him any terminology that he might not like and constantly checking his body language to see if he’s comfortable. Déjà vu!
It’s the colleague I haven’t seen in years—not since we set fire to the world with a project that garnered many awards for both of us. We’re three minutes into a deep conversation when she gives the clock on the wall a pained look and jumps to her feet, telling me she gets off work in five minutes and has to be out the door in five-and-a-half because her husband expects her to be home at a certain time every day and she can’t be five minutes late, not even for me. Déjà vu!
It’s the Supermom Circle-mate who’s aghast because her husband has just scraped off her funny and moderately antisocial bumper sticker that was on a vehicle he never drives, just in case someone sees it on her car and connects her to him and thinks he’s that way, too. Déjà vu!
These are all strong women, strong Alpha females who—most of the time—don’t take no for an answer and take no prisoners in their dealings with the business world. And yet, it pains me to see them kowtow to their mates. Déjà vu, yes. For as open and honest and strong as they are in the rest of the world, none of them can truly be themselves with their mates.
And I think there’s something wrong with that. I’ve corrected it for myself, but I have to make sure it doesn’t happen to me again.
And that means that I stay open and honest about who I am, what I think, and what I feel, and that I don’t get involved with any man who doesn’t fundamentally like me just the way I am. We have to like each other for ourselves, accept each other as we are, and nurture each other as much as we can by concentrating on treating each other well.
No matter how much I open up to the rest of the world, I have to be myself with my mate. The energy’s the same, whether I put it on shielding from his venom and pretending to be something I’m not or I focus that energy on blessing our relationship to its highest potential. From now on, I choose the latter.