February 24, 2019
“Emotional intimacy involves a perception of closeness to another that allows sharing of personal feelings, accompanied by expectations of understanding, affirmation, and demonstration of caring” — Wikipedia
We are born alone and we die alone. We inhabit a body and mind that no one, including ourselves, will completely understand, although that’s our deepest, deepest desire … to be understood completely.
We desperately want to be seen and reassured that we matter. But oddly, it doesn’t happen as often as we’d like.
We hide. We wear masks, terrified to be rejected, or ignored, or laughed at if we drop the makeup, the sarcasm, the spouting of facts and figures to prove we’re right and therefore, somehow, prove to ourselves that we matter.
True intimacy changes us. Sometimes down to our soul. It lifts us and makes us feel a combination of excitement and relief that we are finally in the presence and experience of safety.
Some of us will wait until we receive a diagnosis that reminds us we are mortal and our time together is unpredictable and in many ways outside of our control.
What kind of logic is behind waiting for a delivery date for death before I engage in what is most meaningful to me?
I think a lot about what has made me happy. If I am honest I can’t say that it has been what you might predict.
When my son was born I was happy (and relieved) but too fraught with worry about whether or not I could keep him alive and safe, well-loved and cared for, to be focused on the happy.
When I changed careers and accomplished getting my masters as a working single parent I was happy, but it was tinged with fear that maybe I had made a huge mistake and I wouldn’t be good at this new career for which I had given up my former life.
Every time I have been exquisitely happy it has had something to do with bone deep emotional intimacy.
Connecting with another human being and for a moment providing each other with a safe place on this somewhat scary, big rock suspended in the middle of the universe, makes me happy.
My five year old son jumping in my lap and throwing his arms around me and kissing me like I was ice cream and he couldn’t get enough. No walls, defenses, or barriers. Or when he was 18, about to go into the Marines, joking with a friend about being a mama’s boy and proud of it. No walls, defenses, barriers. That made me happy.
Sitting with clients who want to learn how to drop the walls and defenses and barriers, I am happy.
When I find friends, new or old, who have also discovered the precious secret that intimacy and authenticity are what they’ve also been looking for, I am happy.
No more waiting.
Like my last post on vulnerability, I’m not talking about doing anything crazy to prove that you can be emotionally intimate.
I’m not talking about attempting to be emotionally intimate with everyone you meet. That’s a recipe for disaster.
I’m talking about showing up as best you can with everyone who matters to you with unapologetic honesty, tempered with profound kindness, because we’re all fragile in our own ways.
I’m talking about being present and prepared to listen. To hear behind the words to the feelings that someone is sharing with you. And to risk sharing the essence of you with them.
I’m talking about dropping being cool or right and replacing it with being real. Being seen. To be changed by an interaction between two souls.
I’m talking about showing up as equals, two human beings allowing, even if only for a brief moment, a connection that goes deeper than a presentation of all they do, rather than all they are.