Warning: Naughty language ahead.
No, I can’t let you any closer.
Yes, it’s because I’m afraid.
Maybe those two sad, simple sentences sum up most of our lives.
Are we afraid of being hurt, or just of experiencing real intimacy? Are the two just too intertwined to tell apart?
For many of us, intimacy is this weird idea floating in the ether. Something we will never really take the leap to experience. Something we will read books about and talk vastly of, but not jump into its deep, unknown waters ourselves. Maybe we’ll pretend we know what real intimacy entails.
Or, maybe we will continually enter relationships with emotionally unavailable people so that we aren’t forced to open up either.
And so many of us.
One the one hand, we want to experience real intimacy, but on the other hand, we are just so fucking terrified.
Instead of trying at all to be close with people, I crafted a mask for myself as this cold, distant, aloof person: Someone who was so independent that I would never be hurt by another’s actions. Someone who had it “all together” and was perfectly fine being alone. Someone who never wanted to get married or have a family. Someone who didn’t need anyone, at all, ever.
Yeah, it was complete and utter bullshit.
So many of us project these carefully created false identities to the world because we never learned how to be close with one another. We never learned that it is okay to let others see us, without our disguises on. We never learned to accept who we are, underneath it all. These protective mechanisms can really distance us for ourselves, from others, and from life.
But, sometimes we are lucky enough to have life lovingly slap the shit out of us and wake us up to how we are living (or lack thereof).
We’ll have a revelation that will change us forever:
I was slapped awake to realize that a distant, cold relationship was the perfect hiding place for me.
At the time, the relationship I was in required no intimacy whatsoever and I had been perfectly okay with that for over two years. But, I could no longer stand the mindfuck of playing games based on distance and detachment. I could no longer stand being in a relationship where whoever cared less had the power. I could no longer stand feeling like my lover did not know me at all.
So, I summoned up all my courage, and I ended it.
Then, something crazy happened: my heart opened, just a tiny, little bit.
It opened enough to shake something from deep within me and I began to embrace the idea of truly revealing myself to another and, in turn, having them reveal themselves to me.
To change in this way felt absolutely euphoric.
Once we find this intense way that we hide from life, from love, from others, from ourselves and we bravely remove it, we are peeling the mask off.
It hurts. It’s bloody, it rips and pulls. But damn, it sure feels good to have it off. To see ourselves for real, for the first time.
I felt like I literally had new skin. I felt vulnerable, but I felt like me and I learned to embrace this fragility.
I started approaching everything differently. I opened up more to friends. I let them see me. I would tell people what I was feeling, how I was really doing. It was a gradual process, one that was immensely painful at times.
I felt so naked without my mask.
It took me awhile to get used to living with a more open heart. But, I kept gently pushing myself because regardless of how scary it felt to be vulnerable, I knew that I was beginning to live more authentically. It was what I had secretly wanted for so, so long.
Then, something crazy happened again: I met the love of my life.
It never could have happened before.
When you’re ready, take your mask off, too.
There is someone out there that wants to know us, see us, feel us: the real us. We’ll never find them wearing that cheap disguise.
But, more importantly, we’ll never find us wearing that cheap disguise.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: via author