While there certainly can be challenge, delight, and risk in taking our clothes off and making love, that’s not today’s eNews topic! It’s the intimacy of undefendedness – in all its challenge, delight, and risk – I’ve been experiencing yet another layer of this week and want us to explore together …
This shows up for us in all our relationships. Sometimes, even with our beloved – the stakes are especially high here! – standing with an open and undefended heart is the most challenging thing we can do, AND it can open us to possibilities previously only imagined, and then some!
|At our wedding – a moment of public intimacy|
We’ve been married for nearly 3 years now, and known each other for over 10, yet every time we stand on the edge, about to dive into another layer of undefendedness, the challenge, and risks are as palpable as ever.
AND the need to engage all the qualities of RICH relationships (respect, intimacy, courage – lots of that! – and honouring our humanity) everpresent.
This week’s experience was no exception.
While sitting at our dinner table, we found ourselves playing out one of those uncomfortable yet familiar dynamics that left us both feeling an ache inside – Bruce feeling made wrong, and me feeling not heard.And I know it’s not just us! As humans we all experience our unique version of this. The question is what we do next?
When we feel that pain, do we allow ourselves to remain defended by slipping into our familiar human responses of lashing out, freezing, fixing, collapsing or running away – all of which are perfectly designed to keep us stuck in our current patterns of relating? OR do we choose to step into the space that feels much more risky (sometimes terrifyingly so) of choosing vulnerability – a choice that opens us to the possibility of deeper intimacy with ourselves, and each other?
To be clear, I’m NOT saying stepping into undefendedness is the choice we should always make! You’ll notice in the box below where I list the qualities of RICH Relationships the question I ask regarding the quality of Intimacy is:
“How am I doing in being open and undefended – to the degree that’s appropriate for the relationship …?” And here I’d add – appropriate for the relationship in this moment!
While choosing to be respectful is always an option, as adults, part of our learning to stand in our power means taking responsibility for creating safety for ourselves. And part of that is learning to discern when it’s appropriate to make ourselves vulnerable.
There are times when one or both of us recognizes we’re coming up to the edge of our capacity for respectful, open, co-creative presence. Realistically, sometimes we only notice after we’ve gone over the edge! In either case, as soon as one of us notices, and can manage to speak, the wisest choice here is to say something like, “This is an important conversation, and I need some space before we go further. Let’s put a bookmark here.” And then come back to it later, when we’re both grounded and present.
This isn’t a way of avoiding challenging conversations, it’s actually a way of co-creating the space within which they can happen!
I’d be the first to say this kind of intimacy ISN’T an easy practice. In my relationship with Bruce, when I stand undefended, opening my heart and inviting him into greater in-to-me-see, I often feel challenged – called to be a fuller expression of me than ever before.
Image by noppasinw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Beyond my commitment to be the me I came here to be, there are a couple things that keep me engaged in this practice. One thing that drives me forward is my commitment to greater freedom in choosing my responses to life. And it is the ease that freedom brings, and the absolute deliciousness of the next depth of intimacy I can feel in my bones is possible that draws me into continuing it.
I’m guessing that if you’re still reading this, you’re up for creating relationships that won’t be washed away by the next wave of intensity. You’re likely actually drawn to experiencing either more of this powerful freedom, or the delicious intimacy – or both!
With Valentine’s Day coming up, if you’re looking to be a powerful co-creative partner in a relationship that’s about far more than yummy chocolates, lovely flowers, or even great sex (though I’m all for them too!) I’d love to partner with you in exploring what that might mean for you.