How much does true intimacy matter?

Posted: November 5, 2015 in Courage, Families After War, Healing from War, Post War Life, Sex & Relationships

This is an issue many of you, and especially me, are dealing with. I’m going to flat out tell you right now that I’m just beginning to truly understand the importance of true intimacy… I’m a novice at this, guys. Maybe we all are. God knows how many ancient walls guard my heart….or what it takes for someone to be let through. So, I know that this is a tough topic. It’s not easy for me…. but it’s important.

I’ve been thinking about how we can be surrounded by people who love us and yet we don’t “feel” the love. We blame it on our walls, right? And yes, our walls are a good part to blame. But I think part of the reason is also because most people who say they love us actually love how we make them feel. They love our energy. They love what we do, how we make life feel safe or good or easy or just better for them. They love their idea of us. Their love for us makes them feel good. To them, their love for us is as real as it gets. And their love is real. Love is love. All love is real.

So why don’t we feel it? Because being loved for how we make others feel and being loved for who we really are, are two very different things. Two different types of love.

If we don’t feel truly seen, heard or understood for who we really are on the inside, if we aren’t able to really talk to and confide in the people who love us, to feel perfectly safe sharing our selves — we aren’t known for more than our surface. We can’t FEEL loved unless we feel truly seen, heard and known BENEATH the surface. We can KNOW we are loved, but we won’t feel it. Or, at least I don’t. Why?

Because to feel loved we need intimacy. The deep trust and safety of another’s spirit that allows us to be vulnerable, that sets us free to fully be who we are, that makes us feel known on the inside, safe to express our real feelings and know we will be allowed to feel whatever we feel: our fears, our dreams, our hopes, our regrets, our desires. Intimacy makes us feel connected. Intimacy deeply entwines our roots together.

Being loved for how we make someone feel and intimacy are two very different things.

Being loved for how we make people feel is the love of basic friendship, fans, colleagues, teammates, followers, supporters, clients, it makes us popular among people who enjoy our energy or who need us in their lives in order to satisfy their need for safety or comfort. Being loved for how we make others feel is surface love. Surface love has roots but they are not entwined.

Intimacy is the love of marriage, deep friendships, parents and children, warfighters, life partners, soul mates.

Perhaps this is why relationships that require intimacy and don’t have it don’t last? The demands of these type of relationships are so heavy that unless intimacy is the foundation and maintained over time — unless our roots are thoroughly entwined — no other kind of love is strong enough to support the weight of it.

Because what we all really want is to be known, seen, understood for the broken, evolving, growing, scared, brave people we are.

We get surface love and intimacy mixed up sometimes. I have. I have accepted and given surface love instead of demanding intimacy where intimacy was required. We think that spending time with someone, living with someone, being around them day in and day out is intimacy when all it really does is let you get to know their behavior. (Think of two trees standing beside each other, they spend all their time together and know their surfaces, but their roots are not entwined. They are together, but each remains separate and alone.)

If you don’t have intimacy and if you aren’t sharing your inner worlds with a trust and shared, equal power and support — if you’re not talking to each other about your real selves (entwining those roots) — all you know is their behavior, their tendencies, how they react. How they react is often very different than how they feel inside. And if you don’t have their trust enough for them to share with you how they feel, you do not know them. You do not have intimacy. You have surface love.

Of course, relationships are complicated and there a myriad of factors that play into them, this certainly isn’t the only one. But at its most basic core, doesn’t the success of a relationship come down to whether real intimacy exists or not?

I haven’t been good at intimacy in this lifetime, not at requiring it nor in giving it. My walls are thick, I’m well armored. Only a couple of people have emerged in the last few years who have had what it takes for me to let them in. They taught me that it IS possible. Finding out that I CAN be vulnerable and truly feel seen, heard, understood and accepted for who I am, made me understand just how much it deeply matters. Life-changingly so. I’m not going to go into details out of respect for my husband’s privacy, but waking up to this (along with other reasons) has resulted in my decision to peacefully end the marriage, a process we’re still moving through.

I don’t have the answer to “how do you let yourself be intimate?” I will, no doubt, be writing more about my own discovery of that, and part of my own process is for me to be more vulnerable with you and write about my own journey in a way I haven’t done before.

But I will say, that even if you have walls as strong as mine, it’s not ONLY about your walls. We instinctively know when we are in the safe energy realm of someone who makes us feel seen, heard and understood. It’s about the type of love, the energy dynamics, the fears and maturity of both people. Because the right person with the right energy CAN come into your life and move past your walls as if they were paper-thin. I’ve experienced this myself (which, when you have walls like mine, feels nothing short of miraculous) and I experience the blessing of being that person to so many of you every day.

 

Comments
  1. Ro Donovan says:

    OMG. And, Thank you!

    • Ro Donovan says:

      I wrote the above before fully reading this. I had read the starting and ending paragraphs… Having read it thru, defensively from the end up, I saw myself in the Writer. I cried tears of recognition, and of My Needs to alter my behavior, expectations (of myself and of others). I cried with the pain of that loneliness felt and that I feel because I’ve withheld my “roots from other trees” for so long.

      The Writer may understand my “OMG,” if she got an email I sent earlier. Sometimes, I will admit that I feel frightened when I recognize a soul that I believe I not only can but do connect with. Recently, it was pointed out to me that I was “eerily” like another that I have begun getting to know. I recall saying that “eery” was a different word than I’d hv chosen, yet just today, I found myself feeling afraid of the similarities…My feeling is almost as if this person already knows me on a soul level. And, well, sometimes I feel as if I know this person in a similar way. Why “eerie?”
      Perhaps because I’m not used to allowing Anyone to see my roots! It’s unusual territory, even in friendships to say nada rt now about relating well in anything remotely like marriage!

      My walls are probably at least as thick as the Writer of this Blog. And I’m probably10yrs her senior, chronologically! Age is relative. By age 20, I had been Counseling and Educating Troops; Teaching Pre-K thru Grad School, Military and Civilian. I had seen combat, believe it or not, but not for the last time. From my earliest years, I had been the “rock” in my family of origin; the “parent” even of my extremely troubled mother. There was no safe place to let my walls down that I could see, not from my earliest years. And, now, NOW, I am exploring this topic of Intimacy as a part of healthy “two way street Love,” be it with friends, family, spouse, etc.

      Let’s be honest. This is not easy for all. And, I’m guessing that it’s at Least difficult, for most. Why is the divorce rate so high??? One reason may be as our Blog Writer suggested about we humans, that it can be easy to confuse surface love with the love that grows with true intimacy. To be frank, in the past, I really did not believe that I was put here on Earth to receive Love, except maybe from dogs, horses, beings non-human. I have felt love from others. I have known others who have deeply loved me, not just for how I helped them feel, and rather than embrace and accept it, I Ran from it. That’s been my MO. But, mostly, I have felt as if I had no right to show my human frailties; but, rather as if obligated to make sure they didn’t show so that others could have my love as completely as I could give it; so that I could be the “rock” for others. But, guess what I’m finally starting to believe: I Am NOT a rock. I Am A Human Being, one among trillions of Members of the One Human Race.

      This means that marriage, a healthy one, is not out of the realm of possibility for me!!! It means that I CAN continue moving forward in building Mutual friendships. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve really tried this consistently? Probably not… Long time. It’s been a long time.

      Do I like admitting that I’m afraid? This is ME, the one who wld face down any foe regardless of size or strength. It’s also the me who became “totally and completely disabled & legally blind” from Gulf War Syndrome. This is the same me who tried to take my own life before definitively diagnosed. This is the same me who was put into a nursing home as a young woman to die of this disease, was stuck in there for over a decade of this life, and am now out dealing with the PTSD I didn’t have the time or energy to deal with in that house if horrors.

      As Britta aptly put it, and I’ll own it, This is The the Scared Brave me who is here tonight telling you that, Yes I Am Afraid, And I Am Going To Work on Discovering And Practicing The Art of Intimacy In as Many of My Relationships as I am Able, seeking the Wisdom of Love to help guide me to sense who to trust and who not to, under what circumstances, etc. I believe that intimacy is an art: It requires discipline, practice, and, in practice it is, can and will be life affirming; supportive; validating; it will be a means of hearing And being heard; understanding And being understood; accepting and being Accepted exactly as we are, inside And out. Miracle? I’d say so. Absolutely!

      Do you believe in miracles? I do. I’ve seen them. I’ve lived them. Chances are that if you’re here, you have, too, whether you’ve accepted or interpreted them as such or not. There is another set of Miracles here: ‘Got a mirror? We didn’t live through all we did to be alone, afraid, acting as if were fine when we’re not. It’s not only ok to Need Validation and Love, I sense that it’s a requirement for the most pervasively healthy and happy lives possible for any and every one of us.

      Tonight, I am more thoroughly giving myself permission to seek out, find, receive and share intimacy, “the real deal,” with other people in my life. I hope you’ll do the same: And, if by some chance you’re already doing it, please share your experience, strength and hope!
      P.S. Ditto re my first comment!!!

  2. Ro Donovan says:

    HELLO???? HAS ANYONE ELSE READ THE ABOVE ARTICLE????
    FUCKIN’ A.!
    LOOK; On one level I get not resonding… What the F do you say when you read something like this?

    Are you speechless? That would be understandable to me. However, given the importance of the I CHALLENGE YOU TO:
    START IN THE REPLY BOX BY ANSWERING THE Q “WHAT IS IT THAT I JUST CAN’T SEEM TO SAY ABOUT THIS?” Then, F. the FEAR, And Go To It! I CAN’T BE THE ONLY ONE WHO NEEDS TO HEAR OTHER VOICES ON THIS TOPIC. IN FACT, the same day it was written I attempted to start a Blog on the same Topic. Every time I wrote an article it got erased! Have I given up? No No No No… However, for personal reasons I hv taken a break before trying again.
    Here, I THINK & FEEL THAT
    We NEED SOME MALE VOICES, TOO. THIS IS NOT WUSSY “Girl Stuff!” HELL NO! TALKING ON CYBER PAPER ABOUT THIS EVEN WITH A PSEUDONYM AS I HV WITH MOST OF MY REPLIES ON OTHER POSTS, Afraid to Let My Walls Down IS OK AND ALLOWED! WHATEVER HELPS YOU START TO LET WHAT’S INSIDE OUT… WE LITERALLY NEED YOU HERE. I NEED YOU HERE. YOUR BROTHERS NEED YOUR VOICE HERE. I’M CONVINCED OF IT!

    Tonight, Though I have already responded x2, I’m going to again, asking myself some version of THE CHALLENGE QUESTION: What is it that I can’t seem to, don’t want to, or prrhaps fear to say here that might help another open up, possibly to heal ????

    FIRST: I HATE THE FACT THAT I’VE REACHED THIS AGE AND FEEL SO UTTERLY CLUELESS ABOUT INTIMACY.

    AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE, It STATES THAT WE INSTINCTIVELY KNOW WHEN WE’RE SAFE WITH OTHERS WE CAN TRUST: I DON’T HAVE THT LUXURY. I WNT IT. BUT, I THINK THT I’VE LIVED WITH FEAR/PREP FOR ATTACK FOR SO LONG THAT I DON’T, not consciously, KNOW WHEN I’M SAFE. TRUTH: I JST RECENTLY BEGAN TRYING V HRD TO LEARN TO DISTINGUISH WHN I’M ACTUALLY SAFE FRM WHN I’M NOT.
    AND, I’m Not Finding it tht easy!

    I’ve Loved, Lost, Felt Devestated and Built Walls To Keep myself safe! Only, it’s working agaist me now, hvng the walls up. I’m scared. ONE BIG DIF. RT NOW IS THAT I’M ADMITTING THT I’M AFRAID AND I’M SEEKING TO LIVE BEYOND THE WALLS ANYWAY.

    ARE YOU SO DIFFERENT FROM ME? I DOUBT IT. MANY SAY THT MEN HV IT HARDER THAN WOMEN IN FACING THEIR VULNERABILITY HEAD ON. ME THINKS IT DEPENDS ON THE INDIVID.
    MALE OR FEMALE. IT’S BEEN EASILY A COUPLE OF DECADES+ SINCE I FACED COMBAT. I’VE NOT YET MARRIED. TOO MCH BEHIND MY WALLS.

    I’VE KEPT UP A “STRONG FRONT” for others!– I’ve also kept it up for myself! to avoid feeling hurt, loss, devastation, disappointment, disillusion, isolation, loneliness, Anger. Yet, behind the walls is all of tht & more! The walls are preventing me frm letting go of painful memories, that clung to as if my present, determine the present I Seek And Find: THAT’S SERIOUSLY MESSED UP. AND AS LONG AS I LET IT GO ON SO AM I! What do I hv to lose by telling you? NOTHING!

    WHAT DO I HV TO GAIN BY TELLING YOU? MAYBE THE BEGINNING OF A LIFE MORE FULLY LIVED, WITH POSSIBILITIES BEFORE UNKNOWN TO ME. Maybe Right Here We CAN Begin a Discussion About A Topic we’ve felt too Tough, Strong, Macho, Manly, or simply Afraid to Admit that WE HAVE NEEDS LIKE THIS TOO, NEEDS TO LEARN TO SAFELY LET OUR GUARDS DOWN, TO LET OTHERS IN, TO RECOGNIZE AND ACCEPT THAT WE ARE LOVED AND WORTHY OF LOVE, HONOR, KINDNESS, GENTLENESS, SUPPORT, MUTUALITY IN HELPFUL, HEALING RELATIONSHIPS (WILLING AND ABLE TO GRANT OTHERS SUCH LOVE, KINDNESS, SUPPORT, Etc.; WHILE ALLOWING OURSELVES TO RECEIVE SUCH): WHAT AN AMAZING GIFT TO GIVE TO CHILDREN OF THE NEXT GENERATION, AS TO THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US, AND THOSE ALONG SIDE OF US, All Would Benefit!

    YOU’VE PROVEN YOUR STRENGTH IN MANY WAYS. LET’S SEE IF WE CAN ALL DEMONSTRATE YET MORE.

    THERE ARE NO WRONG RESPONSES HERE!

    WHAT DOES INTIMACY MEAN TO YOU?
    HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR CLOSEST RELATIONSHIPS WRK?
    DO YOU HELP THEM TO?
    DO YOU HAVE THEM AS YOU WLD LIKE TO?
    WHAT MIGHT BE HOLDING YOU BACK?
    THESE QUESTIONS; THOSE SUGGESTED BY THE ARTICLE ABOVE, AND OUR ANSWERS WILL PROBABLY BE TOUGHER THAN ANYTHING ASKED OF US IN COMBAT. What do YOU THINK AND FEEL ABOUT THAT IDEA???

    Seiously Interested, And, Listening intently, Ro (Lt)

Reach Out Here or Email Me at brittareque@gmail.com

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s