This time of year in Los Angeles the roses in my garden are in full bloom, the air looks lavender and the world smells amazing and new. It’s the perfect time for a long walk or a picnic in a park. With family or friend, lover or spouse (or both), it’s time to be outside, savor the warmth of the spring weather and closeness with people you love. Watching Asher and Tova scooter up and down the block with the other kids that live on our street I can sense time slowing down. Feeling close to those that live right next door is a blessing. But what if we don’t even feel close to the one lying next to us in the bed! What is close anyway? Where did the romantic love go that seemed so effortless when we first met our partner? What if you haven’t even found anyone that you actually want to even get that close with emotionally or sexually?
If you’re like so many smart people I know, you are lured into the fantasy of romantic love. That it should be easy, that when it is right, it just works, that once you truly love yourself, love will come. And LOVE might come like that oh and stay like that. But Intimacy, intimacy is harder. Intimacy requires the sharing of your most vulnerable, naked self. That is what connects us most deeply to other people. It’s difficult and takes an incredible amount of courage, because it’s not about changing something external, it’s about bearing what is deeply internal.
Intimacy is asking for help. Sometimes when life gets particularly crazy and I’m juggling an impossible schedule that I have to somehow make possible, the last thing I want to do is ask for help. Whether asking your partner or your neighbor it can be tough to ask for help. Not because of anything my neighbor does or my husband does but because asking for help, from Michael or anybody, risks the disappointment that they might say no, or be unable to help me in the way I need to be helped.
BUT, this is an important moment. Because asking for help at times like this is a risk, and it is what brings relationships out of the shallow and into the deep. It is asking for someone to be there when you need them, not simply want them but honestly and maybe even desperately need them. It calls upon a more supportive role even a selfless one but, in fact, this allows them to need you too. It is trust and connection and a sharing of your less strong self that needs to be propped up by someone else. It is beautiful, scary, messy, connectedness.
Intimacy is sharing the dark, shadowy parts of ourselves that bring us shame. It means sharing your neediness, sharing your wish for your mind to be read, risking acting completely irrational and still being embraced. See, the thing that Hollywood misses in the romantic comedies that we watch in hopes to learn about love is that we are all these incredibly delicate, psychic messes in human form. We vibrate with information and energy that has formed us since birth and that has created our expectations and our defense strategies for disappointment. With the amount of energy buzzing inside any one of us it is a wonder we are able to find intimacy or connection at all. But with some incredible sense of grace, we do, we actually open up. We allow our walls to come down and our shadow parts to be exposed and seen by the person we want to be close to in the deepest of ways. Because, at some point we discover that we need to let someone in more than we need to protect ourselves from them.
There is an old story that I heard many years ago. At one time we were all beautifully round beings matched with one other perfect match, happily rolling around in connected love. The gods grew angry at our happiness and so separated us. All we have to remember that perfect other match is a mark on the center of our bodies, our belly button. I believe we actually have many perfect matches along life’s journey. The quest only requires that we bare our center, our vulnerable middle. The way this quest garners the ultimate prize of amazing connected passionate love is by allowing your partner to be healed by you and you to be healed by your partner. This healing begins and ends with being vulnerable, compassionate and selfless toward one another.
As we head out into the world this week, lets try to not be so strong, so closed, but instead to be a little brave. Bare our vulnerable middle, ask for help, look deeply into someone’s eyes and let them see something about yourself that might even frighten you to share. Be intimate, it’s spring, roses are blooming and the world is lavender after all.