On a daily basis I see the invisible power of relationship. I love being in relationship, it is the juice of the human experience. Our discovery and willingness to be in connection is a flicker of magic in the mundane of life. Intimacy makes me feel alive, and requires my utmost attention and presence. I can be intimate with nature, food, water, my ukulele, my lover, my body and breath. Recently my greatest teachings come from being Intimate with others. (*Note I do not mean Intimate solely as a sexual or sensual exploration).
Intimacy is the baring of one’s Soul, the slowness of dissolving the Ego to expose the most vulnerable, and thus most precious parts of ourselves.
I see how big the story of relationship is, and how much we may not even realize we are playing along. This story was given to me via a combination of my family experience and upbringing, and the media and culture. This story, which may or may not be similar to your story, is:
· There is an Other who will complete me and make me happy (i.e., I am not strong enough on my own).
· I am nobody if nobody loves me (i.e., something is “wrong” with me if I’m not in a relationship).
· Exes are scary and we cannot be friends with someone after we’ve been partners.
· It is only appropriate for me to feel excited about, or desire to share affection with, a select, small group of people (e.g., a romantic partner, family, children, or pets).
· My partner finding another person attractive and interesting means I’m not attractive or interesting (this is where jealousy shows up).
· There is no difference between romance, love and sex -- if one of these is present, then the others must be present also (i.e., if I engage sexually with someone, it means they love me romantically, or if I love someone, it means I need to engage sexually).
· Romantic relationship is valued above all other relationships.
· When you love someone and want to be their partner, you move in together and co-habitate.
· Sex proves we love each other.
· The approval of others validates my existence.
As one who desires and adores sharing intimacy, I realize intimacy can only show up when we are willing to drop the story, drop the ideas of how things are “supposed” to be, and look at what is truly present and emerging in the moment.
As I learn more about Attachment Theory, I see where we play-out the stories from childhood in our adult relationships. I encourage you to look into it, and it’s up to you how far down the rabbit hole you go. Below is an image to explain different attachment styles.
The stories we carry maintain the “comfort zone” experience, i.e., the place which is most familiar. If, for example, my ego-story from childhood tells me that proximity equates connection, then when I am not right next to my partner, I won’t feel connected. If, as a child to feel safe, I needed to become small, for my story to remain intact, I will then “play small” in relationships in my adult life.
It is not until recently that I even noticed I was unconsciously telling myself these limiting, self-sabotaging stories. Looking closely at our own story helps to dispel the beliefs that, as an adult, we recognize are not true and no longer serve us. The juice of the experience comes when we choose to look at the collective Story of Relationship through the lens of our own intimate relationships. Where are we remaining asleep and blindly re-telling self-limiting stories?
The next time a situation arises when one could choose to replay the story, in that moment choose intimacy, choose awareness, and detach from the old story; create a new, more authentic, real and compassionate way of relating.
I recognize the true honor it is to be Intimate with others. Because intimacy is not always easy, warm and squishy or full of hugs and kisses. Sometimes intimacy means sharing a difficult truth, or hearing a challenging vulnerability. Intimacy is listening to the rawness of another’s experience or sharing your own, and having empathy and loving them anyway -- and loving yourself anyway. Intimacy requires ninja-like communication skills, superhuman active listening skills, and the ability to sit in the uncomfortable moments together and breathe.
My toolbox of deepening intimacy is growing, and like any craftsperson, it takes practice to refine one’s tools. The greater willingness you have to be vulnerable and show your authentic self, the more authenticity emerges from you. To Know my Authenticity, I have to slowly remove and release the stories about myself that are not Me.
The less I live in story, unconsciously following the plan already laid out in front of me that I did not choose, the more I need to check in with myself about how I feel in any given moment. Here lies the beauty of consent. Living Consent is a moment by moment awareness of one’s Truth, creating healthy boundaries to honor that truth, and then diving deep into the infinite wellspring of Intimacy, to experience deep Connection.