Thursday, November 11, 2010
Thoughts on Intimacy
I used to think that intimacy pertains to sexual relationships. Now I realize that sex has become one of the least intimate acts in our post-modern world. College campuses are full of parties where students "hook up". Sometimes they actually introduce themselves to each other, but there are cases in which they see each other at a party and go--they don't even know each others names. But why limit it to college students? Pornography rules the internet--teaching men and women just what they will never get out of sex--honest communication through the body. Sex has become such a commodity that it has nothing to do with love.
When I met my husband, I asked him about his sexual past. I assumed he had gone to prostitutes, watched porn and lived at stripped bars because he was ex-military. He answered: "I never could deal with casual sex. It hurt my feelings." He just wanted to love someone. I wanted someone who I could talk to--someone who would hear me and not judge me, someone who didn't think I was crazy because I am so hypersensitive, someone who understood my thoughts, even if he didn't share them.
Intimacy is about revelation. We share what is dear to us, and we are embraced for it. Intimacy is about acceptance. We take each other for who he or she is, not for what we want them to be. Intimacy is about courage. We expose ourselves, and that rawness can be soothed or scraped. Intimacy cannot exist without honesty, couched in reciprocal concern. Intimacy is friendship.
Crimes like rape are intimacy abducted. But there are less violent versions. Indifference kills intimacy. Selfishness will destroy intimacy, because the love is all about oneself. Without empathy, we can't know another person's pain, but we also can't know their joy. We are a world that hides from anything real in a relationship--lover, family, friend. Why are we so frightened?
I can speak for myself. Even though I still want to see the good in people, I seem to attract so much evil. One friend told me: "Don't ever let anyone get close to you. That's how they hurt you." I am close to few people. I really prefer my own company. But every now and then I am reminded of what my friend said. I let someone get too close. They hurt me--badly. It isn't always malicious. They are wounded too, tormented by the demons of the painful past. So they hurt the ones they love. And both of us draw back, too afraid to try again.
I yearn for that proximity,so tantalizingly within reach; I can't find a way to shut it down. It is more than romantic. It is the admission of life itself--that need that says: "You and only you can touch my heart, be it through my body or my soul." I would like to say that I know how to do this. It is the lesson that will keep me alive. But learning genuine intimacy is like a return to childhood: your innocence is left unguarded, and the vultures circle around, aiming for your broken carcass.