As I write, I'm sitting, quietly, in a beautiful room, watching over a dying friend, as he sleeps. We’ve just spent the last hour talking about the truths we’ve encountered in life and what we’re left with, when all the dross is swept away. It's been a lovely sharing of hearts and communion of souls. I am so very grateful that we can speak so plainly of life, death, fear, joy and reality. So many, simply, don't know how.
This has all been a poignant reminder of a subject so dear to my heart and that which fuels my soul: getting comfortable in the uncomfortable. In other words, the ability and choice to sit with another, in their messy place, without the need to fix, amend or advise. The willingness to allow for authenticity, without fleeing the scene. The desire to experience true, deep intimacy.
This is the longing of our hearts and, yet, the hardest act of relationship we are called to. Part instinct and part training, our first response to another's pain, anger, disappointment, frustration, confusion, loss or fear is to shut it down, distance ourselves, or jump in and offer solutions. We are taught, culturally, to hide our pain from others, to spare them the reality of our situation. We, very simply, don't know how to do intimacy.
I want to see that change. As a intimacy coach, who specializes in sex and relationships, this comes up, a lot. Most people I encounter have a hard enough time connecting, vulnerably, with themselves, let alone, others. Breaking down the barriers of fear is, intrinsically, scary work. But, oh, the joy of watching someone come into a place of unabashed acceptance, dare I say love, with self, is so thrilling and so worth the struggle.
In this era of online presentation and personal branding, the need for us to learn how to be real and raw with one another has never been greater. The expectation for us to, always, have our sh*t together, be ever moving forward, and to have the approval of the masses, has become the standard to measure our lives by. Comparisons and the need to measure up are drilled home, everywhere we look.
Being courageously vulnerable is the antithesis to this. Choosing to embrace ourselves and others, where we’re, honestly, at is an act of revolution. And taking the time and effort to tear down our walls of fear and the mechanisms that support them is the key to making this happen. It is only then that we can find peace and be a beacon of peace, walking alongside suffering or struggle, making it safe to be real.