I felt a tear slowly roll down my cheek and I began praying to myself, “Please don’t let him see me cry. Please don’t let him see me cry.” I turned my face away hoping he wouldn’t notice. I wasn’t prepared for what he did next…he wiped my tear and held me even while I tried to squirm away.
It was so sweet and beautiful and yet I wanted to disappear, become invisible…anything so I couldn’t feel him looking at me. “I’m so sorry,” I said, “I don’t know why I’m crying.” He wiped another tear.
I wished he would leave, go far away so I would never have to see him again. I felt embaressed by how much of me he had seen that I couldn’t help but cringe. He didn’t need to stay, our relationship is overly complicated and like my usual taste in men…he is unavailable. I braced myself not to hear from him and was shocked when he was in touch a few hours later just to say hello.
For days after, I kept crying without reason. Who is this man? Why is he in my life? And then I got angry and began finding reasons to dislike him. Who does he think he is?! Our relationship is always on his terms!? Such a jerk!? I felt the familiar tension in my chest as if I could feel my heart turning cold as the fear of intimacy gripped me.
“The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers.”~Deepak Chopra
And then it became so clear that this man who wiped my tears was opening my heart to feel more and be more of myself. I have written before about being vulnerable or sharing emotions, but this was different. I finally felt my fear being dislodged and the places in my heart that were closed begin opening again.
What is a fear of intimacy? Ultimately it is the fear of a deep relationship with someone else. For me, it also shows up as a simultaneous fear of being engulfed and abandoned. In the situation above, I felt the presence of acceptance and love and became overwhelmed by closeness. I felt afraid of losing myself and put up defenses for protection. And yet, I can feel now that the “threat” was nothing more than deep human connection, which we all so desperately want and crave.
On a mental level I’ve always felt I was open and loving. I practice metta meditation and been intrigued by tantric sexual practice. I can see and feel now that loving towards others is different than having an open heart. An open heart requires receiving love rather than just giving it and allows love to flow back and forth with intimacy.
The book Undefended Love, describes the different defended identities/personality traits we take on when we are protecting ourself from love:
- know-it-all, or
- super competent
I have found myself taking on all three of these–caretaking to avoid myself and my own needs, knowing everything all the time, or being so independent I didn’t need anyone. (This one I am still struggling with.) According to the book, we not only take on a specific personality to cope, but also employ different tools for defense including:
- analysis, or
- represssion (the most primal)
Ultimately, our defenses are really hiding the inner experiences we have of feeling not good enough, unworthy, or that we don’t belong. I can notice now when I take on one of the “defended” personalities to feel what inner experience I’m trying to cover up. Once we can see our defenses and false personalities we can then move into or feel the loneliness, emptiness, or annihilation that comes from hiding our hearts.
This was why I cried. I felt the black hole and clearing of who I was without my defense and it scared me. On the other side of the “dark night of the soul” we find the light of undefended intimacy that is our essential self and not the defended personality we have become to believe is who we are.
With undefended (I want to use a different adjective, but this one just captures it so well) intimacy we can experience the joy, peace, love, power, freedom, wholeness, and truth we are in our heart of hearts. Only an undefended heart can experience intimacy. Or as it says in the book so beautifully:
“To cut through our personal differences… means learning how to love and be loved without defenses and without obstructions. It means cultivating the capacity to be emotionally present even when we feel exposed or vulnerable, learning to relinquish the many strategies we have employed to feel safe and in control…”
I’m done with safety and control in my relationships (romantic and otherwise) and vow to continually dissolve my defenses that prevent me from the intimacy I truly desire. The man who held me, may be out of my life by the time I post this, but his echo in my heart will remain forever. I’m so grateful to him for dissolving my defenses…and wiping my tears.