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If You Let a Man In

Lake Atitlan

 

I’ve never really been a dog person.

 

Lake Atitlan

 

They’re messy, they smell, and more often than not they sniff your crotch, slobber all over your face, and hump your leg.

 

They’re needy and codependent and can’t handle being alone. They’re desperate for attention and cry for hours when you leave home. They’re aggressive and impulsive and can even be dangerous if they’re not properly trained.

 

It’s no wonder dogs are so often compared to men.

 

Tikal

 

Years spent traveling alone in Latin America, with more unfixed pitpulls and misogynistic men than I ever imagined possible, left me jaded about both breeds.

 

I saw men as dangerous creatures who would hurt me physically or emotionally if I let them come too close. They were the source of my insecurities, the cause of my confusion, and the perpetrators of my heartache. Keeping them away made life so much easier.

 

That is, until a few months ago when everything started to shift.

 

Tikal

 

It was my first night back in Costa Rica after being gone for almost a year. I was living in a simple wooden house in the jungle alone, with doors that locked with the same hardware you’d find in a public bathroom stall.

 

In the darkness that night, I felt vulnerable. Because I knew that a man could come to hurt me if he wanted to.

 

While trying to fall asleep I heard footsteps on my back porch. My stomach dropped. I prayed for a monkey or an iguana or even a jaguar, but when I opened the door, I found a dog. A dog sat right in front of the door, facing me, with a friendly smile on his face.

 

San Marcos

 

Every day that followed a different dog from the neighborhood slept on my back porch. And because they guarded the house, I slept soundly.

 

In the past I wanted dogs as far from me as possible, but that experience made me want dogs around. I began to see dogs as powerful protectors. Empathic animals, highly receptive to our needs and feelings. The guardians of our bodies and our belongings. Fiercely loyal, trustworthy, and dedicated to serving. The bearers of unconditional love without expectation. Able to freely give and receive affection. I saw dogs as woman’s best friend.

 

When I started to see dogs in a different light, I asked myself if I could see men that way too.

 

Tikal

 

Intellectually I knew that masculinity couldn’t be further from machismo. True masculinity makes you feel safe not threatened. It serves to support not to take. True masculinity lets a woman blossom, it doesn’t make her shrink.

 

But I had never really felt a man that way.

For a long time, I hadn’t let myself feel men at all.

 

So I asked to see and understand what it really means to be a man. I asked to see that a man could be a lover and a protector so that I didn’t have to fear him anymore.

 

San Marcos

 

And it started with me.

 

I connected with my own masculinity, an energy that every woman possesses as soon as she acknowledges it. I cultivated that masculinity to feel protected and secure from within. I cultivated that masculinity to feel desired and beautiful and adored. I cultivated that masculinity to feel worthy of love.

 

Eventually, I became the man that I had been searching for all of my life.

(Read about that in my post How I Found My Soulmate on the Road.)

 

Then I flew to Mexico.

 

Tikal

 

To my surprise, in a country with a strong reputation for machismo, I found myself surrounded by pure love. It was as if the divine masculinity I had cultivated from within was reflected back to me in the face of every man I met.

 

While I typically connect more easily with women, every traveler I befriended was a man. Most of the locals who I conversed with, from strangers on the street to hostel workers to taxi drivers to restaurant patrons were men. It felt so good to be around sensitive, conscious, and considerate men to remember that they did exist.

 

tikal

 

In their company I let myself soften into my feminine. I visualized myself as a benevolent queen as I walked down the streets and as a divine goddess as I lay in bed in night.

 

And I noticed that men started treating me like one. They gave me free rides and invited me to dinner. They gifted me with gemstones and fresh fruit and flowers. They snuck me into roped off sections of famous ruins and sacred cenotes. They told me I had a beautiful smile, a beautiful heart, and a beautiful mind. They expected nothing in return except the pleasure of my company.

 

Tikal

 

Not to say that it was easy.

 

I saw myself enacting old, destructive patterns with men. I felt trapped and smothered around the ones who gave me attention and unworthy and needy around the ones who didn’t. I withheld my feelings, avoided confrontation, made excuses, acted flaky, and instead of setting boundaries I ran away.

 

But every man I spent time with offered me a dose of his medicine to help me grow. Whether they brought out the best in me or the worst in me, every experience was here to help me.

 

Tikal

 

For the first time I realized that I gravitated towards men who were unavailable, because with them I didn’t have to set my own boundaries. I could just be distanced by theirs. My spirit and my temple deserve all that they desire but it’s up to me to set the rules about who comes in and how and when. If I learned to set boundaries that felt good, maybe I’d feel safe enough to let a man in.

 

I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do that, but I felt like I finally had the tools to know how.

 

Antigua

 

By the time I got to Guatemala, I thought my journey was complete. I felt so content from all of the lessons I learned in Mexico that I wasn’t looking for anything in Guatemala. I even decided to take a break and not write about my time in Guatemala at all.

 

Until I met Diego.

 

Lake Atitlan

 

After a brief stop in Flores to see the stunning ruins at Tikal and a few days of wandering in Antigua, I arrived in the tiny hippie town of San Marcos on Lake Atitlan. My soul sister Sorrel who I met last year in Puerto Viejo was here teaching yoga, and I came to visit her for Christmas.

 

On Christmas Eve we wandered around the one lane town collecting the best cookies to create a cookie Mandala for the Christmas Day potluck at the neighborhood ashram, Maha Devi. It was also full moon, and we created an altar in our bungalow with flowers, candles, crystals, and of course chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Real dark chocolate.

 

cacao

 

The pure cacao fruit (used to make chocolate) grows abundantly throughout Central and South America, though I’ve never been anywhere that worships it like they do in Guatemala. Cacao is big in Costa Rica, but in San Marcos cacao is a religion. You could even call cacao San Marcos’ drug of choice.

 

Every day there’s a cacao ceremony happening somewhere and plenty of people line up to drink it. Beyond simply eating chocolate, in a cacao ceremony you drink a “medicinal” dose of cacao melted in hot water with different spices and natural sugar. Sure, cacao can give you a high like sugar or caffeine, but that’s not why everyone’s drinking the cacao-aid.

 

Cosmic Convergence

 

Many tribes in pre Hispanic Central America worshipped cacao as the goddess of fertility, pleasure and sensuality. Many still do. Cacao is meant to open the heart and anyone who has ever eaten a piece of really good chocolate knows the instant feeling of satiety, pleasure, and joy she offers. There’s no coincidence chocolate is often compared to an orgasm.

 

Addicted to the orgasmic joy of chocolate, Sorrel and I stocked up on some colorful artisanal chocolate tubes known around town as the “chocolate sausages” and we added them to our altar. Sea salt, local macadamia, coconut, and cardamom. Oh baby.

 

Antigua

 

Afterwards I went to a café in town to finish up a blog post about Mexico. As I usually do, I popped in my headphones and put up my protective shield so that no one would come over and distract me. A few minutes later, a tall attractive man in his twenties walked in and lay down on the booth across from me. “Not talking to him,” I told myself and kept typing.

 

In no time he and Sorrel started chatting and quickly realized they were both from the same town in San Diego. I ignored them as best as I could, slightly agitated by the distraction.

 

He told us his name, which Sorrel immediately decided did not suit him. He needed to be called something sexier. So she renamed him Diego. With an accent.

 

Lake Atitlan

 

Diego told us that he had been staying in the party town San Pedro across the lake and was meant to leave that day for Antigua. However when he heard about the cacao ceremony being guided by a world famous Cacao Shaman in San Marcos, he decided to extend his stay by one night. Like so many others, Diego came to San Marcos for cacao.

 

“And how was the ceremony?” I asked.

“It was ok,” he shrugged. “But I didn’t really feel it.”

“What were you hoping to experience?” Sorrel inquired.

“I was hoping to feel the essence of cacao. To feel my heart open.”

He continued,

“Well, the Cacao Shaman did say that cacao isn’t a medicine that takes you, rather it opens the door and you decide whether to walk in.”

“Say that again?” I asked.

“Cacao doesn’t take you, it simply opens the door and to receive it you have to walk in.”

 

It sounded like cacao was just like a woman.

 

Tikal

 

I went back to blogging and Sorrel and Diego caught up on all of the places they knew in common in the town where they had both grown up. Sorrel now lived with me in the jungle of Costa Rica and Diego now lived in Portland.

 

“So, what do you do in Portland?” I asked.

“Um, I do cuddle puddles,” he said simply.

 

An exceedingly unconventional response to an exceedingly dull question, that took me completely off guard.

 

Tikal

 

Sorrel told him he was welcome to come and cuddle with her to get the heart opener he didn’t feel from the cacao. She continued painting her watercolor of a rainbow serpentine river and he crawled over to snuggle.

 

The two of them talked about how they open up easily, but never get attached. How easy it is to fall in love with someone for a day and then move on to the next town. They were both Aquarians, just like me, but romantically I was the opposite. Slow and hesitant to open but fiercely loyal in love.

 

He looked over at me and said, “Why don’t you come cuddle with us?”

 

Lake Atitlan

 

It seemed weird and threesome-ish, but I knew that writing was a lost cause and with Sorrel there I felt comfortable enough to let my guard down. I closed my computer and awkwardly laid my head near them. He dug his fingers into my hair and gave a gentle tug before rubbing my temples and my ears. It surprised me how good it felt to be touched by him.

 

Cosmic Convergence

 

As he massaged my arms, I joked about how he could start leading his own cuddle ceremonies. He could be the nomadic Cuddle Shaman and offer his services around the world. I gave him an elevator pitch, which went something like this,

 

“Want to heal your relationship with masculinity and help your feminine essence blossom? I will hold you in a sacred container that allows you to surrender into your true divinity. Let me be the big spoon to your little spoon.”

 

I didn’t realize it in the moment, but I had just written an ad for exactly what I had been looking for since leaving Mexico. And as it often does, the moment I said it aloud, it’s exactly what transpired.

 

Cosmic Convergence

 

The café closed and we wandered over to a courtyard restaurant to snack on tapas and lay on giant day beds. Diego only had two bites of his food before asking if he could come and massage my head while I ate. I could almost laugh it felt so foreign to accept this treatment, but it felt good so I went with it.

 

Without question we all walked back to my and Sorrel’s two story bungalow and sat beside the altar unwrapping those colorful rolls of chocolate. We read oracle cards and inhaled essential oils and Diego offered me a massage. He fixated on the back of my heart space, where a long scar marks the spot with all of the knots just beside my scapula.

 

It surprised me how he could be so manly and sexual and yet fit in perfectly at a girls sleepover. Maybe I wasn’t the only one working on balancing my masculine and feminine energies. Maybe there were men out there doing it too. Hot ones.

 

Tikal

 

It must have been midnight by the time I climbed upstairs and into my bed. I started to drift off to sleep when I heard footsteps. I opened my eyes and it was Diego. He asked to come snuggle with me, and though I was shy, again I said yes. I let him spoon me and caress me and kiss me. For no other reason than because it felt good. He felt good.

 

And though it would have been easy, I didn’t attach to stories about him leaving the next day or being a Casanova or me not being special. I let myself feel him as every man in existence and let myself become every woman in existence. I let my woman be held by a strong sexy man. We kept all of our clothes on yet I wouldn’t call what I experienced anything less than intimate.

 

tikal

 

Don’t get me wrong, I was still very closed. He gave without hesitation yet I received with complete hesitation. Frankly I didn’t know him intellectually, so I had to just feel him physically, something I’m not particularly used to doing. But I did open up more than I have in ages and I felt safe with him. Very safe.

 

Cosmic Convergence

 

The next morning he woke up early to catch the bus to Antigua. He kissed me goodbye and I thanked him for being so kind. I felt blessed for the experience without any ache from him leaving. Though part of me wanted to have the same experience with someone my heart did throb for, and I knew that for that to happen I would have to open.

 

cacao

 

I found Sorrel outside of our bungalow meditating with the altar. Beside her was a roll of the colorful chocolate we had purchased for Christmas. She picked it up and started to cackle. I looked at the wrapper and for the first time I read the label. The chocolate commonly called “sausages,” was actually named “Artisanal Chocolate ‘Diego’”. We fell on the ground laughing.

 

I guess we all got our dose of cacao that night.

 

Cosmic Convergence

 

For Christmas Sorrel and I carried our cookie mandala in an empty pizza box to the local Ashram. Bits of Diego chocolate were scattered on top with strawberries and edible flowers from the garden.

 

At the Ashram nearly a hundred people sat in a circle singing Kirtan. Giant mugs of creamy cacao were passed around the room and at first I hesitated. I had overdosed on the Diego chocolates the days before and I didn’t think a breakfast of chocolate was a good idea, even on Christmas. I took a tiny sip and it was the creamiest saltiest spiciest most delicious cacao I had ever tasted. The next thing I knew I had gulped down the entire mug.

 

We sang and I melted into the vibration. My mind floated away from me and back to Diego. I felt him there holding me. I felt his sweetness and his strength. His fire and his gentleness. His free spirit and his unconditional love. It was so much easier to open up to him in spirit than it had been in flesh.

 

Lake Atitlan

 

And then I started to cry.

 

I cried tears of pure love and happiness and bliss. Love and happiness and bliss in the company of everyone who surrounded me. I looked around the room and fell in love with every single person I saw. I held Sorrel and we rocked side to side. We got up and danced like little kids, tears streaming down my face.

 

Cacao opened the door and I walked in.

 

tikal

 

I walked downstairs from the platform to use the bathroom and a dog ran up to greet me. I wrapped my arms around his neck and suddenly I began to see them again. The men I met on my journey through Mexico.

 

Mazunte

 

The soft and manly Mayanist I hung with on the beach in Mazunte who taught me about spirit animals.

 

Mazunte

 

My hot male yoga teacher in San Augustinillo who sang to the grandmothers and kissed the earth.

 

Puerto Escondido

 

The tough on the outside goey on the inside surfer who toured me around Puerto Escondido on the back of his motorbike.

 

San Cristobal de las Casas

 

My spiritual guide in San Cristobal who showed me how to take hold of my feminine power and love my true essence.

 

Palenque

 

The kind and open Italian in Palenque who stuck by my side under waterfalls and in caves in the jungle and bowed down to my wildness and my strength.

 

Isla Holbox

 

The Mayan tattooed fire keeper who showed me how to be a humble warrior in every sense of the word.

 

Isla Holbox

 

The strong handed massage therapist who guided me through a visualization to remember my purpose in being a channel being heaven an earth.

 

Palenque

 

The Australian backpacker who opened his heart with the full moon and reminded me how it feels to be respectfully desired.

 

tulum2

 

The designer in Tulum who took me to a secret cenote and swam with me under a rainbow and asked me how such a woman could have such a baby face.

 

balangan bali

 

The man from my past who broke my heart open two years ago in Bali, and returned to Mexico to teach me how to finally speak my truth and to finally let it go.

 

If You Let a Man In - 30

 

As their faces came to me, I understood why each of them had serendipitously entered my life.

They came to tell me the same message as the dog that night in Costa Rica.

They came to tell me I am safe.

 

That I am safe being a woman.

 

If You Let a Man In - 31

 

That I am safe enough

to trust myself

to let a man in.

 

That I am man enough

to be woman enough

to let a man in.

 

If You Let a Man In - 32

 

Thank you Diego for the sweet chocolate reminder.

 

Thank you to all of the men

and all of the dogs

for your sweet reminders.

 

I love you.

 


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Comments

  1. Sending you love from a beach in Santa Barbara!!

  2. “My spirit and my temple deserve all that they desire but it’s up to me to set the rules about who comes in and how and when. If I learned to set boundaries that felt good, maybe I’d feel safe enough to let a man in.” I felt a flicker of something special in my heart when I read this part. Good on you for overcoming your fears. Keep going! Gorgeous pictures too, they get better and better.

  3. Wow, so powerful Camille. Your heart just keeps growing.
    All my love for infinity
    Mom

  4. Your journey is interesting, but have you ever been married? I have been divorced for almost 30 years, and cannot trust anymore(in USA). I understand the attraction to a dog for safety, but the downside is you must say good-by to the dog. I love travel as you apparently do and Costa Rica is beautiful, I will return later this year for cosmetics, might go to explore the beaches near Limon. Last year I was in Dominical near Panama which was excellent. I am attracted to Colombia, Santa Marta for its beach and proximity to Cartagena. Be safe, and enjoy a happy New Year,
    Stephan

  5. Such a sweet, lovely story Camille. You had me transfixed. Very happy for you!

  6. Namaste <3

  7. I did cry happiness tears

    Because you have turned into a woman
    Because you have met what a real man is
    Because the cacao opened the door and you choose to go trough
    Because your eyes can now spot those males who are a man and those who are not
    Because you can invite more woman to become woman and more man can become a man
    Because now you know how it feels to be woman, how it feels to be with a man and you will choose to take what is worth of that divine contact

    I am so happy, my happiness tears

  8. This is such an amazing piece! Thank you for opening up and sharing your thoughts and feelings with the world!!

  9. OMG, I SO know what you meant with this article! Been feeling very similar in the past few years … yet another thing in common, honey :) keep strong, keep feminine 😉

  10. Best post by you ever. You should submit this somewhere. Win something. Not kidding. LOVE.

  11. This really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing this:) I have not opened up to a guy for the past 9 years for a variety of reasons and for the most part, ive been very much comfortable on my own but at the end of 2015, i met a boy who gave me the exact same feelings you wrote about. I’d been closed off and protective of myself but he reminded me what it felt like to be held, cared for, to have someone. It was one night but i came into 2016 a different woman from before and for that i’m thankful.

  12. I love this. It speaks to me. You are beautiful and strong, keep writing and baring your wild soul :)

  13. Love this :) happy for your happy :)

  14. You take amazing pictures :)

  15. Girl, I admire you, but this Diego character sounds a little sleazy. I’m not sure about men who come knocking on your door in the middle of the night asking you if he could cuddle with you.

    Not the sort to keep around, if you know what I mean.

  16. I feel like you reached into my soul and put into words what I’ve been feeling with this post! I’m going back to Central America in a week, and have been feeling anxious about dealing with the machismo that comes along with it. I am feeling like it’s possible to open my mind to new experiences with men after reading this, so thank you!

  17. This was just what I needed to read at just the right time. Thank you for your openness and fearlessness in being honest. I see so much of myself in the first part of what you wrote, learning to surrender is so hard. I hope to make it there someday soon 😉

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 9, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Set the intention and it will happen. It’s all a process, I’m still working on it too. You are powerful and I believe in you! xox

  18. I always look forward to your gifts! Along with attending a Vipassana Retreat, you must also participate in kirtan with Krishna Das. Ram Ram, peace and love

  19. I am so inspired by your journey and personal growth as a woman. Everywhere I travel another gal had read something you’ve written and it’s awesome to hear how much you inspire others all over the world. I get so happy to see a new blog post in my inbox and I sneakily read it at my day job and it helps me escape back to traveling. Your words are so delicious !! Also I’m moving to Uvita in a few weeks !! Will you be at Envision ?

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 9, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Thank you that is so super sweet to hear!! Congrats on your move to Uvita. I’m planning to go to Envision, I just need to get a ticket and figure out where I’m staying. Hope to see you there xx!!

  20. Camille, this is so beautiful. It took me about 3 days to read it (so busy lately!), but I’m glad I did. You are growing and healing and shining so beautifully. Love you!

  21. […] If You Let a Man In […]

  22. this was so flipping beautiful. i didnt know where you were going when you were talking about the dogs and then you just took me on the the most wonderful ride. i’m on the journey of opening my heart fully…probably for the first time ever. it’s time and this post was just such a beautiful confirmation of that. i am safe. i am safe. i am safe. i am…

    thank you xoxo

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 19, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      awwww you are you are you are! because you love yourself and you trust yourself, YOU ARE! xoxox

      • I don’t like you anymore how could you not like dogs! 😉 Beautiful story. I love how women like to compare men to dogs which is not true. Dogs are dependable, loyal and compassionate. Men are like birds. When you try to get too close they get nervous and fly away. :) Hoping to see you soon! Hugs

  23. Wow this is an amazing post, I wish I found your blog a long time ago. I always get so happy when I discover another aquarius like myself. I think this blog can point some things out that I need to hear. I wish I could meet more people like you, that want to discover and learn from life to connect with .

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 2, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you so much angel. Keep opening up and showing your vulnerability and you will attract your soul group, your tribe who reflects back to you all of the love you’ve cultivated in yourself xoxo

  24. Camille,

    I stumbled upon your website as a pre-dive-into-Costa Rica resource, but it is so much more. You have a BEAUTIFUL soul and I deeply appreciate your insights. Many, many thanks!

    ~Adena

  25. So beautiful. I am carried away each time by your pictures and blog. Do you want children? Huggies

  26. […] love with myself and my life that it was easy to love everything and everyone. Plus I had felt so safe, free, and loved in Mexico and Guatemala that I carried that feeling back home to Costa […]

  27. Jaime Batista Says: March 18, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Love to read your blogs…inspiring!

  28. How refreshing to find someone who is out on the big blue planet figuring stuff out, I love reading your posts.

    Plus there are lessons for everyone here, because a lot of fellas are only unkind as nobody was evolved enough to explain to them what kindness means.

    Thanks.

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 20, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Thank you so much! And thanks for that reminder!! I am learning the importance of speaking clearly and honestly even in the most challenging relationships, which liberates me and is far more compassionate to the other person than harboring resentment. You’re right, maybe if I share my feelings more with men they will learn something too.xx

  29. Hi Camille,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of weeks as I prepare to make some major changes in my life and attempt the nomadic lifestyle. Tired of simply existing and pursing material possessions, I’m leaving my career behind and going out to search for whatever it is that makes my heart sing. Perhaps to learn the lessons that will lead to “living” rather than “existing”.

    This was such a powerful post to read, thanks so much for being vulnerable and sharing. I’ll be travelling as a solo male this time and have concerns of my own in this area, but obviously I don’t have to deal with the misogyny that I’ve witnessed my female travel companions go through. Part of my journey is healing from a failed long term relationship that led to my having trust issues. I’ve worked through much of it but find myself in place where similar to your friend Sorrel, I open up and love easily – but unfortunately, I also get attached easily and am not fond of temporary relationships. From your posts, I’m seeing that this may be a problem for me when travelling. Aside from keeping the walls up and not letting anything from a romantic perspective in, do you have any advice on how to better handle relationships while travelling?

    Thanks for all the great, informative and eloquently written posts – your blog has been a great source of inspiration for me. Perhaps our paths will cross someday 😉

    Cheers from Canada.

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 22, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      Hey Steve thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. I completely feel you and I send you love and support with all that you’re going through. One thing, there’s no such thing as a “failed” relationship, all relationships like experiences are here to teach us whatever we need to learn to become more loving compassionate humans. As far as advice on how to handle romantic relationships while traveling, I really can’t say I have good advice. It’s something I’m currently navigating and really hope to have a deeper understanding of. Romantic relationships in general are a huge challenge for me. In a few weeks I’m heading to Guatemala and studying Tantra for 3 weeks, hoping to learn more about how to truly connect with the opposite sex and experience oneness in all kinds of relationships. Expect a lot more of that on the blog in the coming months 😉

  30. I really love the way you live your life! Day by day, here and now!
    And you are so very intimate and share your life with all the unknown
    People around you – that is great and full of love. Thanks for your sight of life! 💖

  31. […] to everything around me, I explored times where it felt safe to love like Radha. I thought when cacao opened my heart to orgasmic ecstasy that I felt for every stranger in the room. I thought about how much joy it […]