Emotional Intimacy with Ourselves
My apprentice often called me, upset because there were no “good men” out there. She had been in so many relationships, she said, waiting for a man that would be present and show his feelings. She told me that she was often fooled, thinking a particular man wanted to share with her in a deeper way, but soon realized he did not. “Is it true,” she often asked, “that all men are emotionally unavailable?”
“What do you do when you realize your man is not available to you emotionally?” I asked her one day. “Well, I usually try to figure out what is wrong, and how I can encourage him to tell me what is going on with him. But they just don’t want to answer me,” she said, followed with a sigh of resignation.
I understood her pain, because I have heard this story from many people, both men and women. They want someone to be open, to share feelings with them, and to be emotionally available. After many years of “research,” I have finally discovered the reason that so many people find themselves in relationships with an emotionally unavailable partner. Want to know the reason?
It is because they are emotionally unavailable themselves!
It seems obvious when I say it perhaps, but many people do not want to acknowledge their own difficulty with emotional intimacy, but instead blame their partner (or lack of partner) for the problem.
In my previous article, I defined intimacy as “our willingness to be open and present and share ourselves with others,” and offered that when two people can share this openness and presence, they can be said to have an “intimate relationship.” I also described how we were forced to deny our feelings and deep truth during our childhood domestication, so we could meet the demands of our domesticators to think and be like them. We literally had to deny our awareness of our own emotional truth in order to survive.
When we find “love” in our adult lives, it stimulates all the fears and strategies of our childhood experience with love. If we learned to be afraid of expressing our emotional reality in our first love experience, it is very unlikely that we will be comfortable, or even willing, to express ourselves freely in our adult love experiences. We must re-learn how to be emotionally present.
Since we have lost the connection between our emotions and our awareness (through rigorous self-training), the first step is to become aware that we have lost that connection. The next important step is to realize that without full awareness and expression of our feeling truth, we are not fully alive. We are using the strategies we learned in childhood to manipulate our reality in order go please other people—we are not being ourselves.
Once you know you have lost that connection, and you are passionately willing to risk anything to restore it, you are on your way to emotional freedom. From there you will attract the guidance and healing you need to tune into your body, open the connection to your awareness, develop a language for the emotional energy you experience, and share that truth with the ones you love. You may find old emotional baggage from the past mixing with your present reality, and that is okay. It is all you, and all true.
When you learn to discharge and clear the old angers, hurts, fears, and shames of childhood, you will open more presence into the subtle feelings of each moment. They may express themselves simply as “I like this, I don’t like this. I want this, I don’t want this.”
The most important victory in this process is developing emotional intimacy with yourself. Perhaps my definition of “intimacy” should be “a willingness to be open and present with our own feeling truth in each moment.” This is intimacy with ourselves. Whether we are men or women, unless we are present with ourselves in this way we cannot expect to be attractive or attracted to people who are emotionally present with themselves.
My apprentice came to learn that her “problem” was not with the men in her life, but with her own fea