Photo: Courtesy of Ed and Deb Shapiro
Deb: "Ed and I thought we had nothing to hide from each other, but as trust grew, it exposed all those corners where we hadn't looked. Pain that had happened years previously was suddenly alive again, creating an emotional roller coaster. My father was abusive, had a big temper and lost it very easily. Somewhere inside, as I grew up, I unconsciously put my own anger on hold. My first marriage ended because my husband would get angry. At first, I refused to respond, but one day I couldn't control myself any longer. The sight of my own anger freaked me out, and that was it. I was gone. When I married Ed, I discovered I had a whole storeroom of anger locked away inside, but now I was able to face it for the first time. He gave me permission to be angry; he was willing to receive it. I could release it without fear of recrimination."
Ed: "My mother died when I was 5 days old. Growing up, I always felt alone, that no one could really love me, no one knew me. I didn't know how to get close to someone, so I learned to cover it up by being an extrovert. I was voted one of the most popular at school and won all the dance contests. But I lived behind a facade. I even became a monk, not realizing it was a way of protecting myself from letting anyone get too close. All that to hide how fearful I was! As Deb and I grew closer, there were many moments when I would feel so exposed, as if I were the least lovable person in the world, and I would wonder how she could possibly love me. That someone I loved could truly love me back was immensely liberating."
If you look at the word more closely, intimacy also implies getting to know yourself more deeply—into me I see. It suggests that the more you know yourself, the less need there is to hold back or have secrets—you can be open and accepting of your faults. This enables you to be much closer to someone else. When you can make friends with yourself, you can make friends with others.
Intimacy is not something that can be forced or pulled out of a hat; it comes through the letting go of resistance, through softening and opening to yourself and to each other. This doesn't mean you have to be perfect before you step into intimacy—the monsters don't just pack up and move out overnight—but simply that the person you are in this moment is open and willing to share.
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