Good - HealthPost
The gift of intimacy
How, if we move beyond the fear of rejection, intimacy can strengthen a relationship.
Intimacy is what we crave and it’s also what we fear. Being truly seen by another can facilitate a beautiful, heart-opening experience that has the power to be deeply healing, spiritual and joy-filled. In contrast it can be uncomfortable and confronting. When I met my love 20 years ago, I vividly recall my discomfort when he looked me in the eyes with a heart-felt love. I could not meet his soulful gaze. It had me feeling anxious and edgy. I was not conscious back then that I was carrying deeply rooted beliefs of not feeling worthy of love. Beliefs such as, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m ugly’ and ‘I’m unlovable’ are blocks to intimacy.
I hadn’t experienced true intimacy before. No one had ever met me on a conscious heart-felt level. I was in unfamiliar territory. Being vulnerable to me meant not being in control. I relished self-control. It was how I coped with unconscious stored pain. As the years unfolded and my self-awareness increased, I realised the importance of a committed relationship. I learned they have the capacity to be a powerful vehicle for healing. Relationships are magical in their ability to bring our unhealed issues to the surface.
As I became brave enough to allow my partner’s love to touch my heart, my walls to intimacy began to soften. Each time we connected eye to eye, heart to heart, or during special sexual moments, old pain would surface. I would find tears streaming down my face as he made love to me as well as when he held me.
We need safety to be authentic. I had realised he wasn’t leaving me when the ‘going got tough.’ He wasn’t afraid of my pain. He still loved me. This is what conscious, authentic and intimate relationships look like. They can also look disturbingly unattractive – overflowing with blame, judgement and anger. We get triggered in our primary relationships. In psychology this means to have old traumas touched. Triggers show us what we haven’t fully made peace with. This makes them highly valuable experiences – but only if we are self-reflective. Overreactions are a good sign that triggers are in play. It makes sense to feel annoyed when someone interrupts us or uses all the milk but anger, rage or even crying is an overreaction. Those emotions are related to something in our past.
With mindfulness, love and patience within a conscious relationship upsetting times can also become pathways to intimacy and connection. When we own our behaviour, forgive and be with what is coming up for us, without judgement, we heal. Healing means blockages to real connection are dissolving. When we have a witness to this, intimacy is deepened. When we are mindful and reflective, we can learn more about ourselves and that which hinders our ability to truly connect.
Over time my love and I married. This enhanced our ‘safe container’ for deep journeying together. Marriage isn’t so easy to walk away from. We were both able to reach new levels of healing, authenticity and intimacy. I have become a fan of committed relationships for this reason. It hasn’t been a smooth ride. Avoiding uncomfortable feelings can seem easier than being with them for most of us. We use all number of things to do this such as blame, judgement, worrying, alcohol, work, staying busy, social media, eating, sex and over-thinking. They take us way from our anxiety – that disturbing feeling in our gut that sits on top of old hurts and fears. It takes continued self-awareness to notice when I am being addictive. I know this means I am avoiding something I find hard to be with. I also know it blocks being vulnerable, a feeling that can lead to experiences of intimacy and connection.
Being vulnerable is not something we have been taught to be comfortable with. As children it was usually a disempowering experience. We need to feel safe to be with this feeling.
Committed relationships can be our safe place. Of course, we need to be aware of when our partner can meet us in this way. I am well aware of being in a vulnerable place when my partner isn’t fully present or has his own ‘stuff’ going on. My walls can quickly go up and I lose the connection to my authentic self. If I’m able to stay connected to myself, I can choose to write in my journal, reflect or share with someone who I know is safe to listen and won’t try to ‘fix’ me. This is a much quicker path to authenticity than avoiding my feelings by externalising them via the myriad distractions I can be prone to using (like get angry at my partner for not being there for me).
Being vulnerable means being authentic. It makes us soften. Walls of toughness, rigidity, judgement or anger come down. Others can see us without fear they’ll be hurt in some way. (Our walls can be hurtful to others.) Connection and intimacy are natural feelings that arise when we are with vulnerability.
Knowing what we need and want and communicating that in a healthy way is another path to becoming authentic. As we practise this we also become more respectful of our partner’s needs and wants. We learn to negotiate a mutually satisfying relationship that involves compromises. We don’t expect them to be the same as us. We respect their boundaries and receive the same in return. Authenticity leads to connection.
My lengthy partnership with my love has been the most challenging personal growth work I have ever done, yet it has also been the most rewarding. Those times when I am deeply seen have allowed me to feel depths of love that feel extraordinary.
If you are courageous enough to be truly honest, to own your fears and to allow your old suppressed hurts to release, committed relationships become a magical journey to intimacy and connection. Being truly seen by another is a gift that will enhance your life in wonderful ways.
Dawn Grace Kelly, author of Truth Spirit Love – The Essential Guide to Healing, out now.