On the road toward true intimacy
Thursday, June 18th, 2015
Yesterday evening, Jason was trying to talk to me. I was busily finishing a photo gallery on one of the walls in our living room. (I decided to spend my free time in the month of May redecorating our living room. One of the rooms I had never really decorated since we moved into our home three plus years ago.)
Jason was wanting for us to make some decisions about a couple of potential trips we would be taking. I didn’t want to engage in the conversation. So I kept giving him vague answers. He ended up calling me out. Telling me I was being ambiguous and he couldn’t continue to have a dead end conversation with me.
And I realized, I was afraid to tell him what I really felt. What I really thought. What I might need. And what I wanted. It was obvious my feelings, needs, thoughts and wants were conflicting with his, I knew this already. And I didn’t want to engage in this emotional intimacy with him because I was afraid. I was afraid to be vulnerable. Afraid to disagree. Afraid of what Jason might think of me.
Does any of this sound familiar?
As I started to share with Jason what I really thought about these upcoming trips and all the emotions they stirred inside of me, I recognized that it felt so much better to get it out. I actually felt relief. I also recognized that I still do it – I bottle up my feelings. I don’t let them out. And this, my friends, has gotten me into serious trouble in the past. It’s called a breakdown. And I’ve had one. It’s no fun.
I recently read a book entitled Mending a Shattered Heart. As I was flipping through it earlier to prepare for the book review, I came across four key questions that the author believes are the essence of intimacy. Just to be clear, the success of a relationship isn’t about physical appearance, social status, or career; as most of us think. The author proposes its more about this:
- Does my partner freely admit his or her mistakes?
- Do I feel safe enough to readily admit my mistakes?
- Can I share the darkest part of myself?
- Can I hear about the dark side of my partner?
These are the extremes – talking about the darkest parts of ourselves and admitting when we make mistakes. What about just expressing how we feel? What we need? What we think? What we want? (These are known as The Four Questions with my go-to girls.) It seems to me that the former (sharing about the dark parts of me) are much more difficult to share than the latter (sharing about my needs, wants, feelings). And for me – these latter still prove to be difficult at times.
For most of you reading this blog, you might not feel safe enough yet to share exactly how you feel and what you need. I’m twelve years into this process and my husband has been in active recovery for twelve years as well. And it’s still something I struggle with.
I need to land this blog-post-plane and I’m going to do so with this: ask yourself – are you able to freely express your needs, wants, thoughts and feelings to your husband? And likewise, does your husband do the same with you? In addition, are you freely able to share the darkest parts of yourself as well as your mistakes? And likewise, does your husband do so with you?
If the answer is no – it might be that you aren’t to a point in your relationship where you feel safe enough doing this. If that’s the case, ask yourself what you need to feel safer. If you are feeling safe in your relationship, why have you chosen not to engage at this deeper level?
And whatever your answer is – know that I’m still on this journey, too. Figuring it out, day by day. I’d love to think that some of this stuff becomes second nature. But after living three decades of my life in a non-intimate sort of way, I can’t expect it to all of a sudden become easy. Not yet at least.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. xo-Shelley