“I want you to undo it.” That’s all I could think to say in the midst of my pain. I knew it was not a fair request. I knew it could not be undone, but it’s all I had left. I was grasping just trying to stay in the moment because I knew what was coming next. It’s the act that always follows me getting hurt. In this act there are three scenes.
Scene 1: Self-hatred. The beating begins. The other person caused the pain but I take the beating. What’s worse is I do the beating. “How could I be so stupid? How did I let this happen? How did I get fooled once again? If I were smart, I would have listened to my gut.” The questions and the self-loathing go on for days. I usually stop about the time my eyes are ready to swell shut from all the crying. It’s then that the last harsh words are internalized, the curtain closes and I wait in anticipation of the next scene.
Scene 2: The lesson. So help me God if I don’t learn something from this pain. I cannot and will not just get hurt. There has to be a lesson in here somewhere. And the meaning-making begins. This part lasts even longer which I guess is a good thing. The lessons are always different and the experience changes with every hurt but I can tell you what happened this time. With the drop of the last tear my head cleared and I heard my own mantra… “This is what it means to be with me.” Here was an opportunity to say it again, the chance to be authentic knowing that every person has the choice to take me or leave me. I began the conversation in my head, gathered my thoughts, my questions, and challenged myself to stay focused. The most genuine and heart felt talks followed. It was the kind of “real” I have always wanted. As time passes and the play continues, I am learning to be a much better communicator. I can articulate my values and my deal-breakers in one breath. You’d be surprised how few people can do this. I can disagree without raising my voice. This is huge. I used to be a class act yeller and I hated it. There were lots of long nights and sore throats in the past, but not anymore. Now I can be bold and ask for what I need. Best of all, because I know myself so well, I can really listen. I don’t have to prepare my next argument while the other person is talking. I get to listen and really try to understand where they are coming from. What I have found is that when I practice empathy, it rewards me with a level of knowing someone that does not come any other way. We talk, we bond and the curtain closes on scene two.
Scene three: Thank you. Without the pain I would not know joy. Without the test, I would not study myself. Without you I would not grow. Without you I would never know the magnitude of true love.
It took a while you know. This play used to only have one scene, and after enough years of beating myself up I figured there must be a scene that followed. There had to be more.
And so as all good stories go, this one too, has a happy ending. I’m grateful for the lessons and grateful for the silver lining of this and every other dark cloud that has hovered over me in this lifetime. I am ready for an encore!
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.