By Jamie Varon
The thing about relationships is that you can’t tell the other person the truth until you are no longer afraid of losing them. You have to let go of that pressing need for the other person to be there, that heart-stopping fear that creeps in when you think about your life without them. That has to be gone. You have to sit on the edge of the idea that they could not exist in your life and that fact can sadden you, but the idea of you existing without them cannot make you feel that you will break.
Because, if there’s one thing that true intimacy demands it’s vulnerable, raw, uncomfortable honesty. We think we understand honesty. We really do. We think by saying, “you hurt me when you did that thing last week,” we are being the honest version of ourselves. But, we keep a lot from the person we’re with. We keep those little desires that we think they can’t fulfill. We keep things inside that we think will cause them to run away from us. We do not show our most vulnerable because, simply, we are afraid that at our most raw, we will be left, abandoned.
And, so, we take these little concessions. We say it’s not important that he know the ins and outs of the work we do. We say it’s fine if I’m not having a sexual desire fulfilled. We tell ourselves this is all fine –small or large– because, in our desire to be with them, we can sometimes forget our desire to stay true to ourselves.
We hide our darkness and our fears and our desire, because it’s easier that way. It’s easier than the risk of losing them. But, love demands our vulnerability. In fact, it seems that’s the only thing it truly does demand of us. It demands that we stand in front of the person we love and say, “This is all of me. I don’t know if you will continue to love me after I bring you into the darkened corners of my heart, but I need you to know me, to really know me.”
We say we want to be known, but we do not let ourselves be known. We cannot hold the fear of losing someone with the desire to be known at the same time. Because, no matter who you are, your truth will be filtered through that fear. Your words will be coated with that fear. Everything you say, every truth you think is coming from you, will first be propelled through that fear. It is never a pure truth when it is first tinged and coated and glossed by the fear of abandonment or rejection. It is not until we move directly into that fear and come out the other side of it that we can say our truth, uncoated and pure, to the human we so desperately want to be known by.
Stepping into that fear looks like the edge of a cliff, at least it does in my mind. I think of it as every time I step into my vulnerability and share that with my partner, I am hoping that the next step off that cliff appears, but I am never sure if it will be there. I’m never sure if who I am at the core will be who he wants next to him at night. I can only continue to unveil more of who I am by knowing more of myself and sharing that with him. The moment I begin to worry that he may leave me or this may end or I convince myself that I need him in order to be okay, is when I close my heart and start telling these half-truths. It’s the moment we start to lose each other, when the distance keeps spreading further.
It’s not an easy concept to grasp by any means. But, I can say that, when I am able to feel this way, when I am able to love without overly attaching to needing that love, I feel more intimate and closely-tied to my partner. I am more willing to share who I am and what I desire, because ultimately I am not living under the idea that I cannot, for the sake of myself and my well-being, be without this person. The need to detach from the relationship as something that my survival is contingent upon is truly a way to experience a deeper connection and intimacy and love. Because, I can love from my desire to love, not my need to love, not my need for their presence, not my heart clutching to their heart out of fear. It is a purer, more meaningful love. And, in the end, isn’t that what we all desire? Isn’t that the whole point of this?