The Women’s Weekend taught me about self-acceptance and how it’s better to be single than to be with a man who won’t let me be me.
In the spring of 2005, I had a big fat engagement ring on my hand. The man who asked, or rather told me to marry him was dashing and sophisticated, drove a fancy BMW convertible, had a high-paying job and owned a luxury condo in Beverly Hills. Armando (not his real name) was everything I thought I wanted in a man: money, power and prestige, all wrapped up in a snazzy alpha-male package.
Among the many things he wanted me to do for him was to attend something called the Sterling Women’s Weekend. In his mind, it would break down the last vestiges of my resistance to setting our wedding date — something I’d been delaying because deep down inside, a tiny voice — the voice I tried to hush because it got in the way of getting what I thought I wanted — kept saying “Don’t do it!”
I did some research and found that Justin Sterling and his Sterling Institute of Relationship were included on web pages that warned of cults — along with other “cults” like Alcoholics Anonymous and the Catholic Church, just to put things into proper perspective. Nevertheless, I was still scared. Were they conspiring with Armando to brainwash me? Would they succeed in turning me into some kind of Stepford wife so my fiancé would finally get what he wanted — a submissive, compliant mate?
In the end, I decided to go — not only because of the pressure from Armando, but also because of a bizarre coincidence that some might call a “god-shot.” A few months earlier, before Armando even started talking about the weekend, my roommate gave me a coverless copy of an old book titled “What Really Works with Men.” She got it from a woman she worked with who told her that the book, published back in 1993 and now out of print, contained the secret to having a successful relationship with a man.
The book had been lying on my desk for months, unread, but after another fight with Armando, I started reading it, surprised when I realized that Justin Sterling — the same man who conducts the Sterling Women’s Weekend — wrote it. I figured that if the universe was trying to tell me something through two entirely separate channels, maybe I should listen. So off I went, flying to Oakland, anxious but willing, and hoping it would finally calm my fears about getting married.
When you attend the Sterling Women’s Weekend, another woman, who has already done the weekend, is there to help you fill out the registration form, answer your questions and assist you in defining three personal goals. She’s there to get you “to and through the weekend.” I was very clear about my first goal: get clarity on my relationship with Armando. I achieved it on my second day when Justin Sterling said, “Never marry a man you don’t trust.”
How simple is that? Pure common sense really, yet it never entered my mind. Trust? You’re supposed to trust the man you marry? And then another nugget: “If giving a man what he wants when he wants it requires you to be someone you’re not, or prevents you from accepting yourself, then he’s not the right man for you.”
Okay, I’m a smart cookie — or so I thought! Before the Sterling Women’s Weekend, I thought my objective was to snag the highest status male possible. The concept of the “right man” never crossed my mind, I was looking for the “perfect man” — something very different. Yet inside, that tiny voice — the voice of female intuition — rejoiced because finally, someone outside of me, agreed with what I knew was my truth: I could not marry Armando, because Armando would never allow me to be me.
This and so much more I learned in a room with 200 other women as we listened with various degrees of frustration, anger, “ah- ha” and finally relief mixed with hope and elation as this gruff man confronted our stubborn “I’m right” attitudes, our self-defeating relationship-destroying behaviors and our stubborn refusal to face the truth.
At the conclusion of the weekend, Armando came to meet me in Oakland. He swaggered in, confident that I’d learned how to become his ideal wife. How ironic, after all his efforts to get me there, that the Sterling Women’s Weekend had such a different result. There was no way I could marry him. In fact, I realized there were many things I needed to get clear on before I was ready to have a long-term committed relationship with anyone, and until then, I would remain happily single.
I decided to tell you about this experience because, unlike the pricey life coaches, romance advisers, self-help gurus and seminars that employ expensive marketing campaigns to persuade you to invest in their services, the Sterling Women’s Weekend is a fraction of the cost. Women who have done the weekend enroll the women who attend and volunteers prepare the meals, set up the venue, help with travel arrangements and do the myriad of details required to produce it.
Women these days are often too busy, too distracted, too suspicious, too locked into their old ideas to be willing to take the risk to learn something that will open their hearts and minds to seeing men and themselves in a new light. If you would like to get some clarity on how you “show up” for your life and are ready to break through belief systems that prevent you from achieving success in all of your relationships — be they romantic, parental, or platonic with neighbors or co-workers — I encourage you to attend an upcoming weekend.
For more information, please visit: Sterling Women’s Weekend or call 510-836-1400.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2012 Singular Communications, LLC.