“I wish you would listen and talk to me that way too”, she shares with me.
I wish the same thing. She wants me to hold her the same way that I hold my clients, or the friends I connect with and support every couple of weeks.
We’ve been together for almost twenty years — that’s a lot of time.
But her wish and desires aren’t unique to her. That wish comes up many places.
I wish that a lot of the time.
There is a point where things get scary for me.
Early on, I’m present to someone’s possibility, their magic, their gifts, their grace. When we’re interacting, I can hold their gifts out, front and centre, right in front of my vision. But over time, things get scarier.
They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and there’s some real truth to that saying. The more time we spend together, the more we get present to each other’s humanity. And the more we get present to each other’s humanity, the more we start to see the things we don’t like about ourselves, reflected in each other.
This is the part that is scariest for me. When we say YES to each other, whether it’s to a long-term friendship (where the YES is more implied than expressly spoken), a coach-client agreement, or even a marriage, the YES is when things get scary.
Have you ever noticed that things get a lot harder on the relationship, when you move in with a friend? You’ve deepened the commitment with each other. You’re no longer as casual — you’re now more intimate with each other.
That intimacy scares me. It’s scary because I’m worried that you’re going to see the parts of me that I’m ashamed of. I’m even more worried that I’m going to see the parts of you that you’re ashamed of, and scariest of all, that I’m going to judge and resent you for those parts (which brings us back to the parts of myself that I’m ashamed of). I’m scared that rather than being a source for healing our wounds together, we’ll actually just deepen them.
(It’s worth noting that those that have the best medicine for us, are also those most capable of re-wounding us).
I want to create strategies to manage all of this. I’ll keep you at arm’s length, or I’ll resist getting on the phone with you more than once every couple of weeks. When I feel you doing something that is annoying to me, I’ll withdraw and pull away — I’ll find a way of closing — until that dies down. Then we can get back together.
When we say YES, we’re agreeing, together, to take away those strategies. We’ll be with each other through everything that shows up, and we’ll use it all as an opportunity to open ourselves.
I wish I would listen and talk to you that way too.
And I’m working on it.