Love Manifesto

Healing wounds together

One of the articles in Gender (IC#16)
Originally published in Spring 1987 on page 41
Copyright (c)1987, 1997 by Context Institute

IF YOU LOVE ME, nourish my power. Teach me to make a boundary between you and me. Teach me to make an ego, and I will teach you how to erase one, to make a love.

As a woman, I live at the twist of a Mobius paradox. I have healed myself, turned the worm into a butterfly, and now my wet wings tremble. I still shudder at the memory of childhood nightmares, choking off a scream as my mother murdered me nightly in my dreams, and my father writhed in agony, berating me because I could not heal his pain. The magnetic poles of my being shift erratically and unpredictably from that child to the goddess. I know more about Gaia with her mantle of sea and earth, wind and stars, than I know about my own body. I know more about the galaxy and the future and the grace of gods and goddesses than I know about my own heart and mind. If you love me, help me claim my body and my heart and my mind.

As this worm/butterfly body, I know the multiplexity of orgasm, levels upon levels, fluttering, cycling, tolling: contact, contact! I know the terror when love twines into death, when boundaries merge and mesh and re-form so that no one ever comes back the same. If you love me, when I have gathered up my courage to explore beyond the edge of my consciousness, never, never tell me that you’re awfully sorry but you just haven’t got the time. If you love me, that’s what time was made for.

I am naked and vulnerable in my power because I am a woman, just as you are naked and vulnerable without your power because you are a man. Love my power just as much as I love your vulnerability. I will gentle my power so it cannot be used against you. Strengthen your vulnerability so you do not shatter at my anger. Because my wings are still wet, I need the warmth of your love to dry them. I have not yet seen their beauty. If you love me, help me see that I have the power to accept your love, I have the power to set my own boundaries and demand from the Universe that my time has indeed come. I’m tired of being a paradox alone. Perhaps together we could make a new Mobius strip. On my side we talk about receiving power and setting limits. On your side we talk about giving power away and erasing limits.

And if you love me, don’t talk to me about politics. I want you to take some of this terrible burden of empathy from me. I cannot allow myself to be aware of repression because the screams of all the victims are etched into my soul. I am a victim. I’ve died each death from the beginning. If I allow myself to think about the violence, I’ll start screaming and I will never stop. I’m not ready to hear about social justice until you are ready to hear about personal pain. Men feel guilt because they know of the power to act. Women feel grief because they know of the power of empathy. Teach me how to act. I will teach you how to feel. When you are able to feel each mother’s anguish for her burning child, there cannot be another death. And when I refuse to annihilate my identity with, in and for that child, perhaps then we can begin to discuss human rights.

Let us cry for all the goddesses burned at the stake and all the gods castrated because they did not have the power to heal the childhell wounds. Hold me as my inner man tears open the old festering scabs. I will sit by you as your inner woman lances the boils on your heart and washes them clean with her tears. We may need to take some time separately: to howl at the moon, to bury old gods and demons, to feel the raw wonder of tender, healing skin. Our love will draw us back in time: the sweet smell of sex, the endless play of eyes, the soft, nourishing touch of hearts, the joy and delight when our souls entwine, a double helix of new birth, breathing inspiration into life. We can share our tears and our laughter. We can share our kindness and our patience. In our joining and our separating, in our coming together and moving apart, we will heal ourselves and create together a whole new world.

Let us share the burden equally between us. Let us finish each other’s sentences. Let us dance a dance where no one leads, but we both watch in wonder at the field we make together. Join me in a harmony of lover and beloved, which reaches out to embrace family, community, and a symphony of species.

Help me to remember to listen to my own voice, to make sure my pitch is true, and I will help you to remember that there are no lead singers, and the only stars are in the hundred million galaxies overhead.

Let us learn to be lovers at sacred play. Trust your power. Trust my power. They are equal, they are the same. You are a man with a woman inside. I am a woman with a man inside. We are different. We are both holy. We are both complete. Teach me how to be male and I will teach you how to be female. Perhaps it is only in a second language that we ever learn to truly sing.

Devayani Smith is a cultural anthropologist at San Jose State University, interested in cultural futures.

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