Breaking Through My Intimacy Barrier
I know I'm not the only one who is scared of intimacy and of having an intimate connection with another person.
To be intimate with someone, whether it's emotionally or physically, can be terrifying because in order to develop an intimate connection, you need to be vulnerable. It's from vulnerability that intimacy is formed, but it's also vulnerability that can make us open to being hurt. And the thought of being hurt, especially if you've been hurt before, can be terrifying and cause you to build a wall around your heart.
Around my heart, I'd built a fortress surrounded by a moat with lurking crocodiles and no bridge. I was the queen of my castle, in control and safe - but forever lonely.
The truth is, as much as I was terrified of intimacy, I also wanted it desperately.
I longed for people to sit with me inside the castle, share stories and jokes, keep me company and even give them a tour of the place.
The pain that I've amassed throughout my short life usually stays very hidden. I put on a brave face and try to present to the world that I had a normal and safe childhood.
But over the past couple of years, my overwhelming fear of intimacy subsided, causing my longing to experience intimacy to be a bit stronger. My belief that I needed to hide the pain of my past reduced, as my want to share it grew.
The nature of PTSD, at least in my case, is that memories and pains of the past will overflow and overwhelm you - completely involuntarily and seemingly out of nowhere.
I had just had an episode at college, before rejoining my friends for lunch at our favourite spot on the lawn. Usually around my friends, I'm bubbly, talkative and wearing a genuine smile. But after the episode, I was quiet, distant and tired. On our way back inside, a friend came up to me and quietly asked if I was okay.
And for the first time, rather than saying that I'm just tired or giving a short, superficial explanation without revealing too much emotion - I allowed myself to cry in front of him and say that no, I wasn’t.
What followed was a bucketful of love.
He asked me thoughtful and respectful questions from a place of genuine care, he listened as I sputtered out sentences along with my tears, and he gave me soothing hugs as I continued to cry on his shoulder.
For the first time, I had let someone inside of my fortress. And they treated it with the utmost care and respect.
I can't even begin to describe how meaningful and monumental that was for me. To receive the care, love and support that I had always longed for and deserved but never received, was an experience that I’ll always be grateful for.
After that day, I felt like something opened within me.
I'll be honest and say that what followed was a lot of anxiety and insecurity - my system was in shock and it had to process this new wonderful thing that just happened.
But for the first time, I wasn't alone. I had officially broken my barrier to let in someone that I trust.
And while it will likely take time until I break that barrier completely, I'm proud of myself for taking that risk during that moment and receiving the reward.
I finally have a bridge to my castle, so that those that I trust can reach me.
By: Ella Capek
Ella is a British-Israeli in her early 20’s studying to eventually become a music therapist. On the side, she writes on her blog Wide-Eyed Wanderer, where she's been sharing her travel experiences for 3 years. Her hope is to continue doing everything that she loves in the realms of music, writing & travel, while also consuming as much green tea and brownies as possible.