None of us ever truly forgets the nurturing, warm comfort of the womb. We spend our lives trying to re-create that feeling of being held and protected from real or imagined demons and threats. Nor do we forget the pain of individuation, of leaving Mother and home. Individuation causes a pain of separation, and we seek throughout our lives to have the separation and the resulting loneliness filled with meaningful relationships.
We seek to fill our need to have purpose and significance in our work and meaning in our lives. If we succeed in finding those things, they hold little meaning without someone to share them with.
The Desire for Intimacy
This desire for intimacy with lovers and friends, to feel that we are not alone in the Universe, is innate in each of us. I do still feel lonely at times, but never alone. If I feel alone, it’s simply because I’ve shut myself down and have not called on the powers of the Universe. They never abandon us; it’s we who take ourselves away from them.
There is a cost, however, in choosing to do and be something different. A willingness to give up whatever the gods ask of you is integral to having a new life. Sometimes their asking is a demand.
Friends may drop away, go away emotionally, or start a fight to create distance when the fingers of intimacy reach beyond their comfort level. Maybe you feel a need to move, one that painfully takes you away from children and grandchildren, the geography that shaped you during your formative years, and all that is familiar.
One of my lovers told me he was afraid of me. Another said that he didn’t know what to do with me. Those statements feel funny, don’t they? They meant that I was different; I wanted things they did not. They sensed a thing in me that set me apart from them, and it was that thing that I followed even as I left the relationships and moved 1,100 miles away. Regrettably, at the time I was still young in my learning and becoming aware. I did not know what to do with those statements. I felt alienated and alone in my need. I didn’t have the skills then to talk about it, to open up a dialogue to begin to bring the other into my world.
Intimacy Brings Discomfort
What I was certain of then, and still am, is that they did not want the discomfort that depth of intimacy brings. One of my lovers had a habit of losing his cell phone when intimacy began to stretch beyond his comfort level. I had my own habit of distancing: I’d start a fight. My family fought; it’s what I know how to do. It’s what I did when I was afraid. Fights release pressure that’s been building from too much or too little intimacy, not getting our needs met. The aftermath creates space and time. It’s a dance of getting close, fighting, creating distance, getting closer, fighting. Nothing was ever resolved. We didn’t have the skill or willingness to analyze what had happened, why it happened, or what to do differently to get to the next level, to deepen our relationship. We painfully maintained the status quo. I painfully left the relationships.
These relationships could have grown, become more intimate, if I had been able to say: “When you lose your cell phone I feel abandoned and hurt. I get afraid that you will go away forever, so I do what I know how to do and that is argue.” He could have said: “I’ve always run away, that’s why I chose a career that kept me moving for long periods of time.” Or, “You’re really strong in yourself and I get afraid that I am going to be a disappointment to you so I go away.” Willingness to self-examine to root out the source of the behavior and willingness to apologize, and mean it, are vital to a healthy relationship.
What Do You Need In Relationship?
It is important to know what you need in a relationship. Is the person able to give you those things, meet your needs? Is he able and willing to go to the places you need him to go to? If not, you’re headed for a heartbreak or drama or both. Are you willing to compromise, take what you can get, and still maintain integrity with yourself?
Filling a role for another person that is not the truth of you betrays who you are, your authentic self, and creates a wound in the child of you. The wound that is created takes significant work to mend. Your child self feels you have abandoned her needs, put her back in a bag, and sent the message that it is not acceptable for her to be out in the world. The trust the two of you had will be ruined, and that is difficult to repair. It can be mended over time, when she sees that you will fight for her right and need to be alive and have a life with you. This is one of the basic, most necessary aspects to healing old wounds. Apologize, negotiate, and hear her voice, listen to her needs and wants. Trust can be mended.
Wholeness of Relationship or Wholeness of Self?
When it comes to the wholeness of the relationship or the wholeness of self, fight for wholeness of self first. You are your primary relationship, and wholeness in yourself is your primary responsibility. You cannot have a healthy relationship with other people if you have no internal integrity. The need for rigorous self-examination is of utmost importance.
Being honorable with yourself leads to becoming honorable in other relationships. Intimacy begins with being intimate with yourself, all parts of you, and, most especially, your deep self.
©2012 by Julie McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Destiny Books,
an imprint of Inner Traditions, Inc. www.innertraditions.com
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
Sex and the Intelligence of the Heart: Nature, Intimacy, and Sexual Energy
by Julie McIntyre.
Exploring the territory of intimacy, sacred sex, and emotional healing as a journey to wholeness, Julie McIntyre examines the sacred relationship between sexuality and the Earth. Detailing the process of moving from your head to the secret garden of your heart, she provides exercises to heal your psyche of old emotional trauma, reconnect with the intuitive intelligence of the heart, and cultivate a deeper relationship with the Earth in order to trust yourself and become vulnerable and open with your lover and thus truly intimate.
About the Author
JULIE McINTYRE is an Earth Ceremonialist and spiritual teacher who leads Earth Medicine apprenticeships, wilderness retreats, and Deep Ecology intensives throughout the United States, Canada, and Ireland. A double-degree graduate in Political Science and Public Communications, Julie has completed postgraduate training in sacred plant medicine, Ayurveda, Reiki, medical herbalism, Huichol shamanism, and wilderness survival. She is the director for the Center for Earth Relations and for over a decade has worked with the Sacred Pipe, Medicine Wheel, sweat lodge and Vision Quests in facilitating closer human bonding with the Earth. For more information about Julie, visit www.gaianstudies.org