Emotional Intimacy with Yourself and Others
12. Emotional intimacy is talked about yet, the mechanisms of how to begin to have it with yourself and others is often skipped. I discuss my "beginnings" on my journey and my goal to having better intimacy in my life.
I found 4 signs in myself that told me maybe I don't have the best intimacy with myself and then, with others. Together, these 4 signs illustrated to me that I needed to take a deeper look at it.
I go through the 4 signs and share a personal story of how setting a boundary and failing helped me jump start my journey into exploring intimacy with myself. I only discuss emotional intimacy and through the story show how intimacy isn't an "either or" thing when it comes to intimacy with oneself and then another.
If intimacy and boundaries are so important to healthy relationships, we are not taught how each of them can impact the other. And if we fail at either then how can we build intimacy through these failings.
All of this I look into through my hindsight perspective of a situation with a friend at university. She gave me a nickname and well, I didn't like it. And it may seem so simple as setting boundary and yet, it told me a lot more about myself and further increased the intimacy I had with myself.
I’m T. Vyas, you can call me T became most people do. I’m, as you’ve guessed, a person of colour who looks forward to chatting with you about some things identity, some things colour and ALL things Love! Tune in Tuesdays for a new episode! In the meantime, you can find me on Instagram @bareinmind.podcast
0:00:00 You're listening to love how brown cow Episode Number 12.
0:00:06 A podcast about love, colour and identity, and we're driving yourself crazy is totally same and curable. Now, your host T. Vyas.
0:00:17 Today's episode is about intimacy, and in particular, emotional intimacy, I won't be covering physical intimacy, and this both means intimacy with yourself or with others, and the way I'm going to define intimacy for the purpose of our discussion is: it's the exposure of your true self or the familiarity you have with your true self, and then intimacy with another person is that both of you are familiar with each other's true self, and this isn't technically intimacy for beginners, meaning you're a beginner, I'm just as much as a beginner, I'm going to discuss with you four signs, I saw in myself where I didn't have intimacy. And I'm going to share with you a story where it helped me discover some things about myself and how that story helped me catapult my journey into having better intimacy in my life. So the first of four signs that I saw in myself where I didn't have intimacy was I was told a lot of the times that I'm a sensitive person or that I'm easily offended, and this was with regard to what people said to me and what people said about me. And what follows this kind of sensitivity to what people say was that I was also having to uphold a lot of boundaries.
I was constantly like, okay, someone said this to me, should I say something? And I was uncomfortable with a lot of things like that, so I found myself having boundaries crossed or feeling my boundaries are crossed and then having to or the feeling of maybe I need to address this. And the third sign is my vulnerability were sometimes at the two extremes, so either I would share a lot of information with somebody where there wasn't intimacy or trust established, or I was maybe sometimes on the other side where I was really reserved to the point of that, I didn't share an opinion, just even an opinion about a movie. And you can be a private person and still share your opinion, so it's kind of like your vulnerability is kind of all over the place instead of more at an even pace. And the last sign in myself was that I berated myself whenever I got feedback or criticism, about anything I said or did, I would take that criticism and let it kind of spiral in my head where I couldn't just separate out: okay that's somebody else's opinion.
And so now these signs of looking at it in hindsight really told me like I don't have the best intimacy with myself, so I'm going to highlight these four signs in myself through a story that happened in university. I have discussed the story before in episode seven, Boundaries for Beginners, and I'm going to walk through it and then kind of explain to you my big takeaway from this event. So back when I was in university, I had a really good friend, we were friends and we also worked together, and she came up with a nickname for me. So a lot of people call me T., and she started calling me T-dog, and I didn't like that. And one, I was sensitive to her giving me a nickname, we’re good friends, and yeah, she gave me a nickname, and in some cases, that might be seen as a very caring, loving thing to do to another person. And in my mind, I really didn't like the nickname that she had chosen for me. So you could say I was a bit sensitive to her choosing the nickname and because I didn't like it, I felt that that crossed my boundary. Now, I really didn't have a good understanding of healthy boundaries at that time, and I felt like: okay, I don't like it, I'm going to say something. And because, okay, it crosses my boundary because I don't like it, so I asked her, Could you stop calling me T-dog.
Just call me T. Now, I didn't tell her why I didn't like it or why I wanted her to stop, nor did I ask her why she wanted to call me this nickname. So in this situation, there was actually no sharing, there was no vulnerability, meaning I didn't share with her why it bothered me? Nor did I ask her why she wanted to call me the nickname, so there was actually no intimacy established with her calling me this nickname, and so she also slightly criticised me. She's like: Well, what's the big deal that I call you T-dog? And I was hard on myself for her saying that to me, because I was like, oh, maybe I shouldn't have asked her, and I didn't approach the subject further to have even a further discussion with her about it. So in the end, she stopped calling me T-dog for a little bit, but then went back to it, and then I didn't uphold my boundary, meaning I didn't re-ask her to stop, nor did I take action and leave the conversation or hang up the telephone any time we spoke to each other whenever she would use the nickname.
So years later, I've had some reflection on it, learning more about intimacy and boundaries, and I reflected on why did it really bother me? And one of the things that could have been was I think at that time I thought, well, does she think that I'm ugly? And... Well, let's go with that, let's say she did think that I'm ugly because, at that time, I thought that “dog” meaning we used to refer to people if they were not very good looking. I could have asked her what she meant by that. And again, that would have established some understanding of why she chose that nickname and it would establish some level of intimacy. And I actually don't think that that's where the nickname came from, that she actually thought that about me. And what I realised on deeper reflection is that that's actually what I thought about myself. And at that time, I didn't know that that's what I thought about myself. It was an unconscious thought that I had, a repeated thought, so it was kind of in the background running like this script. And any time that she called me this nickname, it would trigger those thoughts that I had about myself. And even though it was unconscious, it didn't mean that I didn't feel that feeling of having that kind of negative thought about yourself. So either way, it doesn't feel good, whether it was unconscious or conscious of it, I still felt bad having these thoughts about myself, about my appearance in this way. And so I dug a little deeper into why I had negative thoughts about my appearance and I began to understand where those thoughts came from, meaning where the influences were, but then the other big part of that was owning the fact that I chose to think about myself that way.
Now, a lot of it came was influences from my childhood, but into adulthood, I was still running with that script, and even though it was unconscious, it was an unconscious choice to continue to have the script. And now that I was conscious of it, I had to know and own that I was choosing to continue to think that about myself. So then I am, as an adult, 100% responsible for obtaining that awareness and then once that awareness is there, understanding that I am choosing to think like that. And one of the ways that I could tell that this was me exposing myself to my true self is that this was actually a very difficult story for me to face and then, a very difficult choice in sharing it with you. I thought, well, maybe I'll share another story that was a little lighter or not, so deep it cuts, really, you can feel it, but I could even feel the hesitancy in telling somebody... well I have negative thoughts, I think about myself as an ugly person that really, I could feel it come up in my chest and grip me because that is how I was choosing to see myself. So then intimacy becomes the act of knowing and owning what you think about yourself.
So when I look back at what happened with my friend at university, I can see two options opening up to me on how I would have liked to have handled that. And one is I would have been okay with her calling me that and I wouldn't have addressed it, because I would have realised that, okay, I don't believe that my friend thought that about me, but that I think that about myself. Or two is I could have asked her why and I could have told her why I was uncomfortable with it. And I think both of those two options would have led me to greater intimacy with a friend. And so from this I learned my first lesson with intimacy, and that is: the more uncomfortable unfamiliar you are with yourself, the more uncomfortable you are with others. And as I continue my goal with intimacy, and I'll be coming back to this topic in later episodes, I wanted to leave you with my goal and my goal is this: I can be in a gathering with people who I don't prefer to be with and have the best time of my life. I'll check back with you next week.
Thanks for listening, tune next Tuesday for another episode. And in the meantime, check out Love How Brown Cow on Instagram @lovehowbc. Bye for now.