Monday, June 27, 2005

emotional intimacy and fear

As I was running today, I was thinking about my two "best year" goals, and I had been leaning toward "having more fun/finding more like-minded friends" as one (the other is a professional goal). But I got to thinking that it doesn't matter how many friends I have or how many fun things I do, what I really crave and need to learn and stretch to do is emotional intimacy - with my kids, with my friends, with the people I love. I feel my attachments very passionately, and I have deep love for my family and friends, but I find it somehow really hard to really let people in.

The ironic thing is that I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and I can be very talkative, and I write prolifically. I have few secrets, so my life is like an open book. But what struck me was that I almost use writing and talking as my medium for connection at the expense of really, truly, deeply letting people in, or moving it to a deeper level, or even listening to the other person's life and needs and wants. I push people away when they get too close in one way or another. I tend to work myself to death, with so many things on my plate, and have to force myself out of the house to spend time with the kids. Either I'm too busy for people, or I find ways to sabotage the relationship from its full potential. I did this with the love of my life, because as I felt myself getting deeply attached and closer, I pushed him away because I was terrified of being hurt or letting him in too deep. Of course it backfired. What I really wanted was a closer connection but that's not what I did and that's not what happened. I think it will continue to work itself out, but its a bit scary how it can come and bite you in the ass.

Am I a good listener? Probably not. A lot of people open up to me, so maybe I am (I want to be), but am I more interested in everyone else hearing all about "me" and my needs and desires and wishes, or really connecting on a deeper level and hearing about their truths and needs and desires. I think its because my "story" (as Debbie Ford calls it) is that I am unwanted, nobody cares about me - so listen to me, hear me, tell me I am important. The goal of Debbie Ford's work is to live outside of the story and to be fully alive and passionate and not whine and complain and live in our story. Its tough! Intellectually I do know that acknowledging another's perspective is absolutely critical to true understanding and empathy and connection. Its hard to get from the stage of intellectual understanding to implementing it in my own life.

Anyway, so I think that will be my year's challenge, to learn to emotionally connect with people I care about, starting with my kids. I am actually pretty good with keeping up with people, friends & family, but I want to take these things to a deeper level, to challenge myself to be brave and listen better and love in a way that seeks the other's best interest before my own and see how it blesses my life and theirs.

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