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In my attempt to write the first sentence of this essay, there is a part of me soaring with ideas, and then there is the practical side that tries to keep me grounded, tugging me back to earth. The man in me is full of ideas, obsessed with ideals, in search of Dulcinea. And the woman in me, my intuitive, nurturing side, whose job it is to temper my “flight of ideas,” keeps me from getting burned like a moth drawn to the flame.
Indeed, I keep secret a tender, soft, earthy side in my manhood, the woman in me. I’m a man in the full sense of the word, capable, steady, and dependable. Never pickle-minded, decisive even in the face of uncertainty, and seldom vacillating, “I came, I saw, and I conquered.” That’s my man, my persona, cultivated through my socialization and cultural heritage.
These two shadows live with me. They have their own distinct faces, and depending on the situation or the call of the hour, one shows up, often, after some squabbling between them. The man thinks he is in charge, but he lives under a shadow, casting doubts and constantly raising questions about his every move. The man must prevail to establish his footing. He must steady his hand to reach his goal and keep his peace.
The great psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, has the terms for these “entities,” if I may call them that: Animus and Anima. Anima is the feminine part of a man’s personality, while Animus is the masculine part of a woman. According to Jung, these are archetypes, universal, inborn models of people, behaviors, and personalities that play a role in influencing human behavior. They operate in the unconscious level of the mind. In other words, we are unaware of their operations. These are part of the collective wisdom gathered by our ancestors’ experiences through the ages and handed down or inherited by us.
In the real world, and with a relatively healthy mind, these two aspects of myself keep my balance. It allows me to see the world in its proper proportions … I hope. Although the two sides operate behind the scene, I get glimpses of them in my lucid moments. With a keen self-awareness, I catch myself caught in a debate, looking at different sides of an argument, often with my left hand arguing for temperance while my right-hand pushes for an aggressive move. My dominant, idealistic nature that emanates from my masculine side is tempered by my tender, practical, down-to-earth, feminine nature.
“The worst of my masculine nature I call Macho Man, the tendency to think that brute force can fix things and tender feelings are a negation of the self. The bad side of my partner I refer to as Prima Donna has a myopic, grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement.”
I suspect we intuitively select a life partner who can complement our dominant nature. A life partner allows us to manifest the hidden aspect of our personality, thus satisfying our desire to complete ourselves in a literal sense. In other words, what is hidden becomes tangible. However, the contrast, and sometimes the outright opposite directions they take, put us in a bind. The worst of my masculine nature I call Macho Man, the tendency to think that brute force can fix things and tender feelings are a negation of the self. The bad side of my partner I refer to as Prima Donna has a myopic, grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement.
Although the conflict between these two aspects of man makes for a colorful life, it either brings out the worst in us or the better version of ourselves.
I may still get irked by my partner’s dominant nature, indecisiveness, fluid mood, or vanity, but my feminine side allows me to relate and empathize with her and women in general.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at email@example.com.