This has been the topic as of late for me. I saw this word once in an AA conference broken down like this and it got me to thinking about my life. Intimacy is a funny thing in that many people, including myself for a very long time, when hearing the word, think sex.
Ironically what I have learned over time is that intimacy is something altogether different and is present in not only romantic relationships, but also friendships too. And something that has surfaced recently with me is the fear and trust issues that arise when someone is “in to me see”.
From the time that I was very young and dealt with my alcoholic and mentally ill parents, there wasn’t intimacy between us. The intimacy I envision might be present in a healthy family with parents and their children is sitting down with them and showing them interest in their homework, their personal lives, loving them even when they fail, and lifting them up when they are down, and most importantly, just letting them know in general that they are proud of them just as they are.
That doesn’t happen in an alcoholic family. Sadly the children of alcoholics often are abused and made to feel they aren’t worthy of love and that they aren’t good enough. My sister and I experienced just that.
So I never experienced intimacy with my Mom or Dad and had to find someone else to have that connection with.
Who I found was the diving coach on my swim team. He liked me a lot. He showed me a lot of interest. He praised me. He told me lots of nice things……and…..he molested me after all that. That was at 12 years old, with a 40’s something year old man.
In the first 17 years of my life that’s all I was to experience was not feeling good enough in my own family, and being sexually molested by someone I thought was a friend. And because I did not get therapy and counseling around any of this, I went into my adulthood finding friends and partners who repeated this cycle.
I didn’t know what intimacy was. I didn’t know I deserved love for who I was not for what I could offer or do. With my parents I had conditional based love. I had to do many things to even get them to praise me and even then, it never felt satisfactory to them. And with that diving coach who I thought was my friend, I gave up a part of my physical self.
Until just last year, I lived year after year with friendships and romantic relationships with people that used me, abused me, took advantage of me, dominated me sexually, and commented on how many things I still had to change to be “normal”.
Rarely if ever did I hear the words that I was good enough for any of them. Rarely did I ever hear that someone liked me just because I seemed like I had a good heart. And when I did hear those words from someone, guess what I did? I ran the other way. Why? Because I spent more than 20 years of my life not believing that I was worth anything to anyone unless I gave a part of myself away. When someone truly liked me for me and wanted to be with me just because of my heart and soul, I didn’t trust it genuinely. I was so used to being used and taken advantage of that I thought there had to be angle. There had to be something that someone wanted from me.
John (from The Mirror In My Face posting) was a perfect example of that. He told me he just liked me for me, that he loved me for me. And I’d try to work through those old tapes and those old fears, and walk through that uncomfortability and open a part of me up that I hadn’t and what I got was guilt trips, and sexual advances, and how he wanted this or that with me on a romantic level. All I was wanting was a friend to like me for me and not want a single thing more from me. He was just one of so many that I allowed to continue to come into my life and reaffirm what I had gone through as a child.
In the past 9 months I have removed all of those people that bring me back to my childhood. I have removed all of those toxic, unloving, self-seeking, conditional based love people. I don’t need them. I never did. God has blessed my life with a wonderful partner today who loves me for me. I use the saying “warts and all” even though at the present moment of me writing this, I don’t have any warts. I’m not sexual right now in my life and my partner doesn’t mind. He loves my heart and my soul. He loves our friendship. And he’s ok with what I offer. I also have a true friend that has been in my life for over 15 years. Over the years he has truly shown his unconditional love for me as a friend. I’m grateful for that.
As I continue to walk through the fear and let people get closer to me today, I have more of a sixth sense now to those that have a hidden agenda. I have more of a knowing of those who aren’t healthy for me. Being around my partner or my best friend and a few others in my life who have God at the center of their lives and are not living for what they can get from others has helped me go down a better path.
It’s definitely scary for me today being close to my partner or my best friend. They are “in to me see”?! And they aren’t into me for my body, for money, for possessions, or for a relationship that they think they deserve or have to have. They are in my life because they genuinely love my soul and can be near me without needing anything more. They appreciate the time I spend with them even if its just for a few moments here and there. And they love me even when I let them down or do something that may not be in the best that I could be.
Intimacy is so much more than sex. Intimacy is so much more than what happens in a bedroom. Intimacy is loving someone without conditions. Intimacy is accepting someone just as they are. Intimacy is appreciating someone just because they exist.
It has always been foreign to me to be close to anyone. With no knowledge of someone liking me just because and with having always had people telling me I wasn’t good enough or self-seeking something off of me, intimacy and intimate based connections scared me.
The more that I walk through that fear, the more I stay away from those people that reaffirmed the old tapes, and the more that I spend time with those that love me just as I am, I find that I can be intimate and receive intimacy. I’m happy to say that God truly has helped me in developing this belief.
Peace, Love, Light, and Joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson