Our craving to be deeply seen
Is often eclipsed by our fears
of being genuinely witnessed…
with all of our invisible stains
and rooted soul blemishes;
to be wrapped in the embrace
of purely humbled affection
both tenuous and rare
is something we quietly desire
without having the courage
to ask for it, receive it, or give
it to others…
I promised a piece on intimacy this week and it has been a little tougher than I thought. Everyone has different ideas about what intimacy means to them and most people relate it to their romantic relationships. Being single, I believe I am able to see a less narrow definition of intimacy, one that is reserved just for romantic relationships, but one that if also often missing from romantic relations.
I believe that one of our deepest desires is to be truly seen and understood, void of judgement. Though we desire this, I also believe it is one of our greatest fears. Even those that shine the brightest lights have dimly lit corners that we they do not allow just anyone to see. We have cravings, wants and aspirations that we estimate we will be judged for so we keep those parts of us hidden.
To achieve complete intimacy in any relationship we have to be willing to trust that we will be loved and accepted for who we are and all of who we are. For our humanness, our flaws and all of the things that make us beautiful. Allowing anyone to see those parts of ourselves, despite any initial apprehension is what creates and builds intimacy.
Though our modern society has managed to somewhat separate sex from intimacy, admitting that intimacy involves both emotional and physical connection and vulnerability, we are often still guilty of confusing the two and end up feeling that horrible feeling of betrayal when we fail to satisfy our desire for intimacy with sex, leading to hurt, confusion and questioning our worthiness. This cycle on repeat can leave us feeling consumed, exhausted and depleted.
In any relationship, intimacy creates better and stronger connections. In a romantic relationship it can be the difference between a good and a great relationship. My friend Charmaine said that to her it’s the freedom to explore one another physically and emotionally without judgement. The comfort to be herself without hesitation. To look into her partners eyes and feel safe. I wonder how many people can boast having that in their romantic relationships. Being able to be themselves and be confident that they are enough at all times; free to desire and want and need and express and explore all of it without shame or fear of judgement. Studies show that about 20 percent of marriages are sexless and 43 percent of women and 31% of men (reported…believed to be much higher) experience some sort of sexual dysfunction. I believe it is safe to say that when intimacy is absent, problems become magnified.
I was with my late husband for 20 years and in the beginning things were tumultuous as we struggled to grow as individuals while remaining rooted together, raising a family and hiding our fears and insecurities. If I am honest it wasn’t until the last couple years of our relationship that we found a place of complete intimacy and unconditional love. It was scary for both of us and it meant seeing and being seen without judgement, it meant no blaming or shaming and to always, in any situation, approach the other with love before automatically arbitrating. There were times in our relationship that we were dishonest, we told white lies or untruths and the reason being is we feared the judgment and shame that would arise so it became easier to eliminate certain things from our conversations or to shave little bits off of the truth to make it fit into a pretty box. I am glad that Kirk and I were able to find that place and I know it will help me in all of my relationships going forward. I can recall in the last couple of years of his life having moments that I felt so close to him, that we were somehow connected by invisible bonds yet still felt free. In glimpsing back on those moments I feel amazingly proud that we were able to fight our own fears to get to that place, I can assure you it was not easy.
I have discovered that being yourself is way less scary than having people in your life that do not see you and that you fear you would lose if they really knew you. The greatest revolution is in being yourself and realizing that not everyone is meant to be in your life forever, but the right ones will stay and no matter where they are in the world you will know that a part of them is always with you, and cheering you on, no matter what fucked up thing you just did or said or admitted to.
When someone makes you feel safe and seen and whole and worthy, no matter what, that is intimacy. Not everyone is able to achieve true intimacy and we really need to look inside of ourselves and stare down our own demons. If we fear not being loved for who we truly are, would we really want to be in a relationship with that person? Fears are not always reality, but we create our reality.
I have fears and insecurities, we all do. I work hard on them and at this point in my life I am only interested in investing in people that genuinely care about me for who I am. I do not care about the latest fads or being in the cool club, for me the coolest club is one that you feel like you belong at all times.
In the last several years of my life my experiences have lead me to believe that intimacy is not a passing whim, it is a deep psychological need. Learning to get that need met, in a healthy way in nourishing relationships is a step in the right direction to a meaningful life and happiness in the here and now.
When we connect in an authentic way, from a place of love and vulnerability, we can create magic!