from my Surrogate Partner Therapy training

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An excerpt I posted in June 2017 after my training with the International Professional Surrogates Association…

This is Lyron. Lyron has been my practice partner for my training with IPSA (the International Professional Surrogates Association) and has consented to me sharing this.

Lyron is 50 years old. He has a teenage daughter. He used to be a Jehovah’s Witness minister (he no longer practices any religion). Needless to say, he and I come from two very different places.

This training is intense. Everyday Lyron and I engaged in various sorts of activities that were a progression of intimate exercises designed to build up a relationship between us. We were partnered together based on nothing but our coinciding orientations (I am queer – open to everybody, Lyron is a straight man).

As Lyron generously, sensitively navigated a wall I was keeping around myself – a guard, a protection. I asked him, coming to almost the end of our training, what his perception of me was. His answers were genuine, and also tentative. We were lying in bed together, fully clothed, trying to figure out the thing that wasn’t quite working. He felt as if he was walking on eggshells, hoping he would not accidentally ignite a trigger point he was unaware of. He didn’t want to be a source of upset for me and yet felt like he couldn’t avoid it.

I feel like I have gone through a therapeutic bootcamp. My brain and my heart feel like they have been lifting weights for 12 days straight and here we are at the end of it all. If you were to talk to me before this training, I wouldn’t have seen any of the things that wound up being sources of inhibition, resistance, hesitation… Hostility.

Outside of this training, I know that continuing in my day to day in my comfortable little cozy bubble in Toronto, I would not have recognized how deeply hurt I continue to be by the actions of “men” – this immense generalization and hostility towards any desire or attention that does not fit the boxes of what I have marked as “appropriate” or by the people I have not chosen; ignoring the humanity of the person from which it is coming. Just because it is not perfect for me does not mean there were any ill intentions.

This man is extraordinary. This training is not easy to get into and even harder to go through. It shook everything I thought I knew about myself and hung it up to dry, staring me down in the blazing heat of California. He said to me this morning, self-reflectively, “How are others making meaning of me?”

It is such a beautiful question, and I feel so guilty for ever assuming anything but good intentions, respect and appreciation. In his hesitation with me, I saw all of my history with people who are cis-men come pouring out of my interactions; and even with the compassion that is burning inside me, I am defensive, I am scared, I am not giving others the meaning I hope to be making. I do not want to continue to vilify ‘men.’ I do not want to continue to assume the worst of someone just because of their gender identity; especially knowing that gender is mostly a social construct.

I am a woman, and although I identify as queer, most of my intimate and sexual interactions are with men; inside me is a arduous affection, and also a well of experiences that have left an impression that results in a hostility; resulting in my coming across to others how I do not want to come across.

I have the strength to do better.

We have heard story upon story of surrogate-client relationships over the past 12 days. The majority of which have been with men as clients and a female as the surrogate.

I want to do this work to heal where others are hurting. I cannot do this work if I cannot find compassion for my clients; the clients who will most likely be men, the clients who do not know how to flirt or socialize or kiss or communicate feelings.

This training has opened my heart, it has opened my eyes. And I am in immense gratitude to this man who has stuck with me through all of it, who has been receptive to my hesitation and resistance. He came towards me gently and with caution and in this I was able to see myself clearly through his eyes. He has been fierce for me, and I hope to do the same for others. He has been a pillar to my growth and I will never forget this bizarre and magical 12 day training with him.

 

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