It’s not you, it’s me. It’s a famous line. It’s a line that would make anyone on the receiving end want to cringe, or possibly crawl under a rock and hide. This same line might cause one to stare in disbelief if they were “lucky” enough to have someone say it straight to their face.
I’ve been thinking about this line all day wishing there was a new way to say it without the stigma attached to it, without the pain attached to it. Because there is no other or better way to deliver the line, I must defend it. You have to know it’s not just a line if in fact it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I won’t speak for anybody else, but I know I’ve said it and I’ve meant it. It’s not the other person. It really is me. The extended version of this line sounds something like this. It’s not you, or anything you did or didn’t do. You in fact, are perfect just the way you are. You were kind and patient and respectful. It’s me. It’s the way I feel and unfortunately, I can’t make myself feel anything different than what I do. It’s not you saying the wrong thing. It’s me wishing my heart would flutter a little more when you say it. It’s not you doing all the wrong things. It’s me wishing I were feeling more gratitude for all the things you do for me. It’s not you being anything less than great, it’s me not knowing if you’re the right kind of great for me.
So if someone ever says to you, “It’s not you, it’s me. You have a choice. I say go ahead and believe them. It probably is them and you deserve better.
Intimacy. Even the word itself sounds intimate. It used to make me blush. It used to cause me to look anywhere but at the person who so easily let it slide right off their tongue. I was so busy squirming and trying not to think dirty thoughts I never stopped to wonder why the other person wasn’t near as uncomfortable as I was. You can imagine my surprise as I sat in church last Sunday, watching my pastor on the big screen preaching about intimacy.
Guess what. It turns out that intimacy means more than sex. It’s more than make out sessions and naked bodies. In fact, it is so much more than the romantic ideas that sometimes swirl around in our imagination that I am excited to share with you all that it means.
In my search for a new understanding of the word, I found several definitions of intimacy. It is defined as a level of closeness, a familiar and affectionate way of being, a deep knowledge and understanding of one another. This means we can have intimate relationships with our friends, our brothers and sisters, our parents, and our children. What I wouldn’t give to know some of the people in my life at a much deeper level and truly understand who they are with all their hurts and all their victories that made them so unique. The catch is, intimacy is a two way street. I recognize if I am blessed enough for someone to open up to me in hopes to be understood and accepted, it is likely they are seeking to know me too. A truly intimate relationship requires vulnerability from all parties involved.
My pastor says that intimacy is one of the building blocks of relationships and it’s a natural place for people to be when they truly love each other. We were designed by God and put on this Earth to connect with others. There was never any intent for people to walk through life alone without the human connection. The truth is we are wired to be with others. Isn’t it funny that we recognize this truth most often, not when we are in the presence of others and feeling good, but it is in our darkest moments, when we are lonely and afraid? It’s the uneasy feelings of being alone and isolated, it’s the endless quest to secure a sense of belonging that tells me this is true. This life is not a one man journey and it never ceases to amaze me how people enter your life and cross your path at precisely the right time. There is always something to learn from our relationships. Keep your eyes and ears open for the lesson and your heart open for the joy and love it was intended to receive.
For the broken hearted, it must be terrifying to consider opening yourself to another person. What if they see your wounds? What if they aren’t mindful of them? What if they pour salt in them? I encourage you to look at your wounds as your greatest gifts. What lessons did you learn from each of them? What wisdom did you gain? While you may be inclined to harden your heart for the sake of self preservation, I assure you that not loving and trusting is far more painful than any setbacks that will come from loving another person.
When you are feeling afraid to love again, remind yourself of intimacy and how it connects your soul with another and expresses an unspeakable love. Allow yourself to be transparent and love with everything you have. Love first. Put down your defenses, hand over your weapons and bare your wounds. Engage in the greatest kind of intimacy. Be authentic. Be you and offer your gifts, knowing it is more than enough and it’s the way it was intended to be.
So the New Year came and I did what I was expected to do. I dutifully declared my New Year’s resolutions to include the obligatory weight loss goal and I even reached a little deeper and declared I’d get back on my faith walk and refocus my energy on a man who will not disappoint. I call him God.
In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions and hope for change, I did what most people do. I started thinking of all “new things.” I’ve spent days thinking of new ways to change my wardrobe, new ways to manage my time, and new ways to spend more quality time with my kids. I also focused a lot my thinking on new ways to take better care of myself. In the midst of all these thoughts my life began to feel a bit cluttered, and then it hit me. I’m adding all these new things and yet I’ve made no room for them. I had no plan for ridding my life of the “old things”, the things that no longer serve me well, the things that detour me off my life’s path and limit my growth as a human being. For me, these “old things” fell under three categories: thoughts, behaviors, and relationships.
I no longer have room for thoughts that say I’m not good enough, I’m too fat and I don’t deserve true love. I cannot save any more space for the kind of behaviors that lead me down a path of destruction and isolate me further from the kind of people I truly want to be around. And when it comes to relationships, I have to take inventory of who is helping and who is hurting. Nobody is hurting me without my consent, I am accountable, and I know that means it is up to me to let go of people in my life that I have come to love in my own bizarre way. They mean something to me.
I am finding with the help of mantras and writing, my old thoughts are fairly easy to replace with new ones. Even old behaviors are being replaced by new and healthy ones in a short amount of time with some conviction. It’s the letting go of relationships that brings me to my knees. The tears flow and my heart literally aches. I’ve sat and wondered why it is so painful to let relationships go and now I am beginning to understand. Relationships have two people in them, the other person and us. When we decide to let the other person go, we have decided to let a part of ourselves go as well. We are saying, this relationship isn’t working for me and I can no longer do this. I can no longer be that person. We let them go, and we let go of a part of us that no longer works to our benefit. Maybe we are letting go of the part of ourselves that allowed others to take advantage of us, to use us, to hurt us. Even when it is in our best interest to let go of the “old us,” it can be scary. At least we are familiar with the old part of ourselves; we know what to expect in the way of thoughts and behaviors. Change on the other hand, can be terrifying. In fact, letting go of relationships will cycle you right back through to your old thoughts and your old behaviors so make sure your new ones are securely in place before you say your goodbyes. Goodbyes are tough so it helps just a little to acknowledge that you’re not just saying goodbye to the other person, but also to an old part of you that isn’t serving you well anymore.
So with the New Year, I have new thoughts. They come from a place of strength and an in-tact self-esteem. The thoughts about being good enough and worthy of love are here to stay. My behaviors are in check and leading me in a healthy direction towards my goals. I have intimate conversations with my God every night. He is the last call of the day for me. As for some of my relationships, I’m letting them go, and yes that includes parts of the “old me” as well. As necessary as they are, goodbyes are never easy.