On the Fear of Intimacy

If ever there was a fear that had a justified place in the human experience, it is the fear of intimacy. This pen is not referring to sex. People have sex every day in this land and beyond without a single iota of emotional intimacy. Sex and love-making are two different worlds.

This pen is talking about emotional and intellectual intimacy. I’m talking about allowing oneself to fbe yourself with another person and trusting it is safe to do so. No relationship of any kind can be a healthy, flourishing place to be if both people can’t fully be themselves with each other. 

When you’ve absorbed enough wounds in life, such intimacy feels like an impossibility. However, because it feels like an impossibility does not mean it is one. For many of us, myself included, taking the risk of trusting is not a chump change endeavor – not by any measure. There is a close-to-my-heart saying I believe in. It’s okay to be afraid, don’t let it scare you. Meaning, if any of us wait for the fear to pass before we take the risk, we will remain stuck in place.

I have a relationship with my past wounds, my history. And, if there is one thing that gets my back up, it’s the very notion of giving my past wounds decision-making power. Yes, caution and patience are worthy allies. And with them at my side, I’ll be damned if I will allow my history to obliterate the possibility of a deeply loving relationship.

***

For G.G.

No one is disposable

If you are treating someone as if they are disposable, stop it. If you are being treated as if you are disposable, stop it. No human being is disposable. What’s more, a healthy relationship of any kind is impossible.

If anyone treats someone else as if they are disposable,  they don’t just wound the other person, they wound themselves! What makes this true? The pattern of treating others as if they are disposable makes it impossible for other person to be close to you.  This pattern of behavior is what I call a distance-maker. Something a person does that keeps others as at a distance.

I’m 65. I’ve been on my own since December 1969 when my mother had me put in reform school and disowned me, having me declared an “emancipated minor” meaning that I was the sole person responsible for keeping me alive. My father, the greatest gift my life has given me, died in August 1969.  I was disowned by my mother and never allowed back into the family again. I know what it is to be treated as if I was disposable. I have a nephew, Joe. A beautiful a human being. A really good man.  The narrative of his life is his to tell. That said, I think it is a safe bet he knows what it is to be treated as if he was disposable being, just as deep  as I do.

For those stuck in this pattern, the questions are not, why am I  bad person? Or, why am I  mean ? You’re not bad or mean. The behavior is mean, but a behavior does not define the all of you. Perhaps the more salient question you might want to ask is this.  How did I come to believe (how was I taught) that intimacy between people was dangerous for me?

Two more thoughts. First, it is more likely than not that those treating others as if they are disposable don’t realize that’s what they’re doing.  Second, it is likely those caught in this behavior’s web fat the moment have been treated as if they’re disposable somewhere back down the line. They deserve compassion too.