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the art of intimacy

I am learning to use my voice. Quite literally, actually. The new podcast, using Voxer to stay in touch with friends, my first FB live event yesterday... being heard, for me, is showing up in a new, intimate way. 

I've never felt super comfortable talking out-loud, especially if that meant articulating any part of my inner world. I think it had to do with my own discomfort and the fear of letting others into that mess. I think it also speaks to how important parts of my own self have been hidden from my own view for such a long time, tucked away in a place of safety yet also a place of solitude. Breaking down these internal walls is changing the game, big time. So is practicing speaking my truth. It's not so scary after all.

Here is what I now believe of intimacy; intimacy is presence. It is showing up in your full range of being. It is reciprocal, dimensional, and in real time. Intimacy is a two-way street of love and liberation. It doesn't have to be daily or even routinely. It is is more about your willingness, the allowing and actively letting each other in - choosing and being chosen... I see you; I want you to see me.

In non-monogamy there is this term for someone who flies in and out of your life once in a great while. They're called a comet. I used to believe that intimacy could only be longitudinal and within a relationship that is built over time. What I think is more true, is that intimacy exists on a spectrum. It's not all-or-nothing, or something that can be neatly assigned to certain labels, friend vs. lover. Relationship language does not create nearly enough space for all the different kinds of intimacy. 

Whether you are in orbit of one another year after year or simply passing through, the intensity of an intimate connection is not dictated by time or even action. A perfect example of this is how we are often more apt to do closeness with our families, but not necessarily intimacy. When a friend recently pointed this out to me, it was a lightbulb moment for me to finally see that differentiation. The difference being how much vulnerability is at stake. 

Intimacy, I believe, is determined more by a certain mindful alignment of devotion. What is the intimacy landscape you and I want to create and share? How vulnerable are we both willing to be? How can we get there, together? It can look like friendship, or collaboration, or love, or partnership, or familial, or everything in-between. 

Where the trouble appears, is when these intimacy expectations don't align. This is what I am having to sort out in some of my own relationships, both how I do intimacy (who I am), and where I'm willing to live inside any given relationship (what I want). There are certain relationships that are so important to me and utterly contained by the sheer power of love, that I am completely willing to sacrifice degrees of intimacy. There are others that don't feel quite so clearly defined, and this is the hard part of relationships... figuring how to meet each other where we are, at any given time. 

I don't think we have to necessarily always be in the same exact place intimately or relationally. Actually, it seems we most often are not if we are growing and learning as humans, but I do think what's ultimately important is that we want to eventually end up at the same destination, whatever that looks like - as BFF's, as co-creators, in bed for one night, as long term life partners, and so on. 

Living inside all the questions helps me to navigate and remember that intimacy is a fluid conversation. As with any conversation the most important thing we can do is to simply show up... imperfect, but perfectly willing to be in the process together.

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