Depth, presence, beauty and hypnotic stillness.
Those were the qualities I fell for in someone I once dated.
He had the most incredible amount of energetic potential I’d witnessed up until that point in my life. He was an emergency medicine nurse but he had ‘Shaman’ written all over him. Rigid in his beliefs, he allowed himself to be led by logic over intuition, frequently diminished any perspectives I offered that were even slightly esoteric and he pushed rage buttons within me I didn’t even know I had 🙂
But when he dropped his shit and let down his defences, he was one of the most tender, kind people I had ever spent time with; a natural healer.
Even though I knew he was still caught in his own version of the ‘narcissistic split’, I also knew he had a good heart and I clung to that ‘potential’ until the bitter end of our dance. And end it did, fairly abruptly as these entanglements tend to do.
Once all the pain and hurt had diminished, I became forever grateful to him for teaching me an extremely valuable lesson….never to chase the ghost of intimacy.
We can be prone to seeing something at the beginning of a connection that we then start building a fantasy upon. Like trying to build a house on sand, and based on our specific conditioning, we cling so tightly to the potential of who this person ‘could’ be that we lose all connection with the reality of what is. We start living in the past and future instead of the present, and we get caught up in the chase for the slice of intimacy they shared with us at the very beginning. Except that the intimacy we thought was true connection never even existed. We start chasing ghosts, endlessly filling an emotional slot machine with coins in the hope for a payout that never comes.
Of course this chase never really starts with that person, be them a potential friend, lover or business partner. It goes way back….to the first person or people who were supposed to show us unconditional love…our parents.
It took me quite some time to realise that the game of cat and mouse I would often get caught in with men had nothing to do with them but everything to do with my parents. I had a privileged childhood in many ways on a materialistic level, but I had an emotionally inconsistent Father, often physically and emotionally absent and distracted by work, and a Mother who was exhausted by having to be both a Father and Mother to myself and my Brother whilst my Dad turned away from himself.
Even now, thirty-something years later, I can get caught up in chasing intimacy with my Mum. We can have a good run of communication as our relationship has improved over the years, but then all of a sudden we’ll have a bad day and I’m right back there again wanting to try to force a deeper connection with her, despite knowing that’s not where she wants to go. Yet again I find myself having unreasonable expectations of her as a Mother, and if I’m not careful I can choose to end up feeling rejected, disappointed or just plain angry. Luckily nowadays I have the awareness to see the pattern for what it is and let it go, but it’s a practice and is one that I’m going to have to repeat over and over until the groove is greased.
My biggest point of surrender around my intimacy wounds came when I grew tried of projecting onto others and instead turned towards myself and asked a simple but important question…
“Why are you accepting crumbs over commitment?”
Why are any of us?
Why can’t we love ourselves enough to say “This doesn’t work for me” and just walk away?
As soon as the little girl in me realised that these people, including some of those closest to me, were never going to give me what I craved, I finally understood that I had the power to give that to myself, AND to seek it out in the form of healthy connection and community with others.
I used to think people who were kind, respectful and genuinely interested in me were deeply suspicious.
I hated myself so much that I thought anyone who gave me the time of day must have something wrong with them. It took quite some time to realise where I was walking straight past the connections that would have been beneficial for me simply because I was trained from a young age to be comfortable with not being seen.
I’m grateful to my parents for their so-called ‘mistakes’ in bringing me up. Their dysfunctional relationship, daily struggles and inability to connect to and love themselves and each other taught me to be self sufficient, quiet, focused and conscientious. It all served me for for first part of my life….until it didn’t and things had to inevitably get messy for me to unravel it all and begin again. But I believe this is the process we all have to go through when we’re figuring out why we can’t let something or someone in. When we come to a block, going back to where we started can be freeing. We get to honour what was and thank it for the job it did in order to move forward.
If you’re in this process of unraveling right now, my heart is with you.
Shedding can feel exhausting, but the good news is that it does end. Eventually we see that we’ve sent ourselves on a wild goose chase and we can give up the ghost and come home.
I began to understand my addiction to unavailable men even more deeply when I stumbled across the work of Michaela Boehm. She talks in depth about this pattern in her wonderful book The Wild Woman’s Way. I don’t think it’s an easy pattern to unravel, but I also don’t believe it’s something we have to suffer and struggle with for as long as I did. Ultimately we have to let up on the expectations we have of others along with those we have of ourselves. Allowing things to just be as they are, without sinking into disappointment about how something ‘could’ have been, is one of the most freeing practices we can ever engage in.
I’ve realised how much beauty there is in moving slowly when it comes to any new connection. Taking time to keep sharpening my discernment through being in my body and practicing deep listening and stillness continues to be essential for me to recognise who is for me and who is not.
We each deeply deserve the love and affection we never received, most especially from ourselves.