The concept of intimacy has been coming up a lot in my life and in my therapy lately. Back in June, I was experiencing some amazing intimacy, and I felt that instead of losing myself in this person, I was getting closer to myself. Through true intimacy, you see deeper into yourself. Through this other person’s eyes, you get to see so much of yourself, for they are a reflection of you.
There is a distinct pattern for many women in which they have these amazing experiences with men that develop very quickly, and then the man shuts down. I don’t care what other people call it, but this is a fear of intimacy, and it happens to both men and women. It inevitably happens when one or both people want to or actually do say they love each other.
One very simple way of looking at it is to break down the word Intimacy: In To Me I See.
When some people get close enough to someone where the other person can see inside, right down to their soul, they become scared and don’t know why. I feel there are many deeply rooted beliefs that are in the unconscious (vs subconscious). These are what I call the voices beneath the voices, and they usually boil down to something very simple.
“I am not lovable.”
“No one will truly love me if they see all of me.”
“I don’t deserve true love.”
If someone doesn’t believe he is lovable, or if he doesn’t want to deal with what is inside (the fear that has no words), then he (or she) shuts down.
Somewhere very early in our upbringing, we took on certain beliefs based on how our family interacted with us. These thoughts do not take form in our conscious mind! That is why so many people don’t realize that deep down they don’t believe they are lovable, which means ultimately they don’t love themselves. If you loved yourself, that is proof you are lovable, and it radiates out from there.
“We live in a society where the emotional experience of “love” is conditional on behavior. Where fear, guilt, and shame are used to try to control children’s behavior because parents believe that their children’s behavior reflects their self-worth.
Even more importantly, our role models taught us to be emotionally dishonest. Because it wasn’t safe to be emotionally honest we lost our self – did not know how to be emotionally intimate with our self, and instead constructed a false self image to survive. We learned to wear different masks for different people.” – from http://joy2meu.com/Fear_of_Intimacy.html
In re-reading this post, I saw even deeper into the mirror. Especially in intimate relationships, we are instant mirrors of each other. Not only do people see what they choose to see, which is based on their own beliefs, but they also choose what to show.
If someone does not believe he is lovable, and if he does not love himself for this basic reason, then his actions will serve to prove how he feels about himself. He will push away the love he so badly desires, deny pushing the other person away, and then use the other’s exit as proof that he is not lovable.
What makes this so hard to see is the fact that these are UN-conscious “thoughts”, beliefs and actions, driven by patterns built in at a very young age. They are defense mechanisms, but they don’t apply to now. They were adopted by a child, usually under the age of 7, who was not appreciated for who he or she was in some form or another.
Why do we carry these maladaptive coping responses into adulthood? Because we are UN-Conscious to their existence!
If you see this pattern in your life, either on the giving or receiving end, look at your responses, actions, thoughts through observer’s eyes. Staying objective and curious, look at the situation like a scene being played out in a movie or play.
Notice the dance of the partners and how they mirror each other. Become Conscious by Allowing yourself to feel into the entire experience and by Acknowledging each and every thought that bubbles to the surface. Stream of consciousness writing is great for this.
Ask yourself what your feelings are, why this happens, and just write down anything that comes to mind. No judgement or thought around it. Just write it down. Don’t expect it to mean anything. At some point, you may find yourself whittling down the thought to a very poignant, simple, and profound phrase that, when you read it, rocks you to the core.
Through awareness of the UN-Conscious drivers in our lives, we unveil them and can finally see them for what they are. With compassion for our hurt inner child, we embrace the reason these maladaptive responses are there (to protect us), and then we let them go, for they no longer serve us.