There’s a big difference between sex and intimacy, yet to an individual who gets molested early on in life, like I was at the age of 12, where my first experience with both happened during one tragic act, the wires became seriously crossed in my brain to where I couldn’t differentiate between the two.
Because of this, I spent the better part of two decades feeling that intimacy with someone, such as just being held, just meant the other person was only interested in having some form of sex with me. That unfortunately led to many complications with close friends who truly just wanted to show how much they cared about me whenever they showed me any signs of affection.
Unravelling this mess in my brain has definitely been a serious undertaking that’s for sure!
For the longest time I completely avoided dealing with this issue and opted to only allow a person I was dating to show me any form of intimacy. But recently, the Universe has abruptly moved me in a direction where I now find myself facing this issue head on.
It started a few years ago when I noticed my partner growing more uncomfortable with the closeness we had shared for the first few years of our relationship, i.e. prolonged bouts of holding hands, cuddling, or just regular acts of random affection. The result of this has been me feeling more and more unloved, because intimacy is a huge part of committed relationships, just as much as sex typically is as well.
Nevertheless, there are many forms of intimacy, some of which don’t even involve touch. Things like verbal intimacy where the listener pays close attention to something deep being shared by the other. Emotional intimacy where tears get shed during vulnerable moments of sharing, where no judgment occurs by the other, just silence and a nodding reassurance of understanding. Or spiritual intimacy, where one chooses to pray for the other. All of these have dwindled quite a bit in my relationship in the past few years, leaving me feeling frustrated and feeling unloved.
While my partner is working on this, it could take years for him to figure it all out. Heck, it took me a ton of years to figure much of it out myself. What has arisen out of all this has been many deep conversations between him and I on how I’m supposed to handle his present inability to show much of these levels of intimacy. In response, he’s encouraged me to pursue friendships where these elements are present, of which I have, especially as of late.
That in of itself has been challenging because, as I said, having someone touch me out of their unconditional love for me, screws with my brain’s programming which thinks sex is only going to follow suit. The only way I know how to work through this though is to keep allowing close friends and loved ones to show me their tokens of non-sexual affection, instead of constantly trying to prevent it from happening in the first place.
I just went through this the other night when a woman I know from the room of recovery took hold of my hand during a rough evening I had at a meeting we regularly attend together. She held it for a good five minutes, even though my brain was screaming at me to pull it away. Ironically, I felt a lot better after sticking through it.
The Universe has also seen fit to put a new friend in my life that is extremely affectionate. It’s certainly been a learning curve for me to allow that affection, but I must say when I do, it feels wonderful to be on the receiving end of it.
The bottom line is that I need to keep walking through my fears surrounding intimacy and remain open to it from wherever it comes, as the more I do, the more I know I’ll learn to separate intimacy and sex, two things that for far too long have gone hand-in-hand and never should of…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson