Saturday, April 3, 2010

Intimacy-The Reality

Relationships are difficult, at best. This is especially true if their origin comes from a history of dysfunction. Take my mom and me, for example. I never really knew my grandparents because she became estranged from them shortly after I was born. I've seen her mom twice. The first time I don't remember because it was at my baptism and the second time was when I was 17 and she flew out from California to attend my high school graduation. I haven't seen or spoken to her since. I know her name, I know we're related, but I don't know her as a person. To hear my mom talk, I'm lucky that I don't. Perhaps, but a part of me still wonders. A part of me that realizes I'm too independent because I've never truly known anyone except myself, and even that is at times questionable.

My mom and I don't really know each other either. Not like we should. She's clothed and fed me, helped pay half my rent through college, paid for a lot of the basic stuff I needed for my first apartment in Florida, offered advice, stood up for me, and let me move back in and live with her for a year when I was twenty-six and broke. She's even done a complete 180 now that I've told her I still want to follow the dreams of my 17 year old heart. That's the good side. The bad side involves a lot of screaming, misunderstanding, passive-aggressive tactics, physical confrontations, shame, blame and a "I won't support that" when I told her I wanted to write.

There's a lot of anger there for me. Still, at 33. Maybe that's why in my dreams I return a lot to the house we used to live in when I was in high school. It's a little different each time and not quite like I remember it, but there are a lot of unresolved issues still present in that house. Yet, it's also the place where I discovered a lot about myself. Maybe that's another reason why I return a lot. To be reminded of what I really wanted out of life. How simple it all seems when you're only thirteen and possibilities are completely magical and unaware of the cold practicality that actually exists.

True intimacy is tricky because it means you have to let go. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is human. Anyone can change. Yes, even your parents. Creating a real bond involves opening yourself up to the possibility of pain, abandonment and emptiness. When that's all you've known from the get go, you don't know how to attach. You don't even consider it to be real, with a sort of automatic fortress that's always present around your heart. Either that or you involve yourself with those who won't fully attach themselves to you. It’ll be better that way, you tell yourself. That way you can get a little piece of what you really want without all the baggage. Then you realize that the baggage is what you actually wanted all along. Everyone deserves it. Everyone needs it.

The problem is convincing yourself that it's okay if you have it. Independence can give you strength, perseverance, freedom, space, flexibility and the ability to not have to compromise. What it can't give you is support, a hug, a smile, a sympathetic ear or the validation that you mean something in someone else's world.

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