The Penitent Man

Sean Connery’s voice advises his fictional son, Indy, who is actively trying to avoid decapitation while passing through three trials in, The Last Crusade, that only the penitent man shall pass. Indy is in pursuit of the Holy Grail. 

In the search for a compatible mate (the Holy Grail of relationships) chronically frustrated young men and their disgruntled middle-aged counterparts often grumble, by way of complaint, that they, “just don’t know what women want.” 

This is true. They don’t, and sadly the women who they are grumbling in regard to don’t really understand or know what they want either.

One of the problems with the world, with societies, with individuals, and with me is that we are proud. We are “know it all’s”—little divas assured of our own importance. We are narcissists. We make ourselves into miniature omnipotent, omniscient gods and goddesses. We hate being wrong. We cannot abide by anything perceived as rejection, so we get mad, throw up our hands and chastise the females of the species for not knowing what they want. 

You really can’t blame them (well, you can and you will, but maybe you shouldn’t). Since they were little girls they have been bombarded with mixed messages. Disney, and other indoctrinators of princess propaganda, swamp girls with distorted images of both men and women. A University of Central Florida study found that half of the 3-6 years olds they surveyed would [ALREADY] change something about themselves so they could be more “princess” like. Magazines and television flood them with unattainable, invariable images of what is beautiful and desirable. If we are very lucky our parents are aware of these confusing, conflicting, and degrading messages with which our young minds are bombarded. My mother’s advice to me: “Try to find someone to whom you are more than tits and ass, darling.” Good advice, if I hadn’t been 10! 

Many of us are raised religiously and taught that sex before marriage is bad, and that we are bad if we engage in such things. It takes most of us a while to say, “to hell with that,” and many don’t recover all of the remnants of shame they feel over the sex act. Couple this with the fact that we have no idea how to pick men.  When we are new to dating we mostly end up with people because they were interested in us. This is a poor way to choose, since many slightly older males find slightly younger (read vulnerable) females desirable. Thereby, creating situations where females find themselves hurt again and again. If you’ve dated at least six women in your life then statistically, according to The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), at least one of them was the victim of rape. Rape, of course, is no easy thing to recover from, but given its prevalence chances are good someone you encounter will be trying to heal. Since we didn’t learn to love ourselves as ourselves, but instead self-love was based on how near to society's desired norm we measured, we were never good enough (in our own minds). I have ruined many a relationship with my own insecurities based on what I thought I was supposed to be. 

Many of us suffered mightily at the hands of males who weren’t right for us and by our own self-inflicted guilt, shame and self-loathing. Females feel attractive when they feel desired, so we do ridiculous things to try to achieve desirability (nobody really bothers to tell you that most men prefer you the way you are, and so you hurt). We have so much hurt by the time we get to you (the man who cares enough to read this) that we cannot trust, we cannot love freely, we cannot tell you what we want. Many of us really don’t know, in our conscience minds, until we spend time alone in reflection over what we know we don’t want. 

The other night when my sweet husband soothed my sore shoulders with his strong hands while telling me that I was sexy  (I was rumpled and exhausted) I had an epiphany! Ready?


What women want, what we really need is…THE PENTITENT MAN! We are looking for the man who will heal the hurts of the past, and love us enough to help us know ourselves, who wants to see us strip away the princess, the shame, the double standards, the mixed messages, the self-doubt and who wishes to empower us to truly love. 

This man, this penitent man, is humble. He is not afraid of our messy emotions. When my own husband found that I didn’t trust, he took away every (foreseeable) possibility for mistrust and waited patiently. He slowly healed a gaping hole of lies and pain. When he realized that I could not allow him to help me because I misguidedly believed that I could not be a strong woman and accept help, he asked for my help instead. His need gave me permission to accept his help in return. Where I had been hurt he treaded lightly with the gentle touch of the perceptively penitent man. 

A penitent man learns your hurts and offers atonement for the many wounds you have suffered trying to discover yourself. Often, as females, we have felt the need to suppress parts of our nature in order to fall more closely in line with society’s dictates for what females should or shouldn’t do. The penitent man supports who you really are.  For many years in my 20’s, I thought I needed a boob job. I really did—I’m not kidding. I looked into it many times but was held back by finances and some teeny, tiny little voice-whispering no. I also considered a nose job, and I wasn’t even that insecure. I just thought if I could change these things then, then I would be happy and worthy of love. Nor was it just me apparently—The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported record growth for the fourth year in a row. Some 15.1 million procedures were performed, in America alone, last year. Where did the insecurities come from? Maybe, it was my college boyfriend who backhandedly used to say that I was perfect, but he wished my boobs were just a little bigger, or maybe it was the millions of advertisements, magazine layouts, TV shows, movies or porn where “perfect” women were typically portrayed as having unnaturally large boobs on a tiny frame. My husband, a truly penitent man, has helped me to love myself as I am. I have come to love my breasts. They are full, round; provide pleasure and gave life to our young. Thank the fates I was always broke and occasionally heard the still tiny voice of reason.  With the help of a penitent man I now see myself as the calm, clear peaceful beauty I so desired to be. 

Penitent men are not weak. To be truly penitent one must be strong enough to help another. One must drop their own ego in the support of another. It is a far greater sign of strength to be gentle and heal than it is to remain on the surface of females’ many contradictions. When a woman receives the gifts of a penitent man she relaxes into herself and soon finds herself in possession of everything she ever wanted. In this state, the penitent man is repaid for his efforts with the love and affection of a woman--wholly herself, and the holy grail of relationship bliss is achieved.