Fear of Intimacy

I dreamt about a little house across the alley. It was pink stucco and dilapidated and I had fantasies about buying and renovating it. In the meantime a man bought and was working on it.

I was walking by and I introduced myself to him, I tried to make conversation about the house, angling for an invitation to look around. He seemed disinterested and distracted. He left and I was out front and the house was unlocked so I let myself in and explored the small space.

More than anything I wanted to talk to him about what he did, curious about his process and decisions. He dug out a basement, added stairways and entrances, and made the space feel expansive. I was impressed.

I was deep inside the house when I heard him return with a woman. I tried to make myself small, hoping that he wouldn’t see me snooping around and maybe slip out unnoticed. He saw me and I tried to act natural, steering the conversation to his renovations and away from what the fuck I was doing in his home uninvited. I could see that he was confused, he wanted me out of there so he could move on the woman who was with him.

I just kept talking and yapping, filling the space, wanting to escape without answering questions.

What does it mean? I could draw straight lines from the Tiny House to the house across the alley in the dream. To Lonny and the man, to my desire to make myself small and not get in the way of his life moving forward. To my enthusiasm for renovation and the accompanying metaphors.

The fires are intense, black ash coats windshields in Fort Collins, the sun is blocked out by gray clouds of thick smoke. It is surreal. Weather rolled in with a little snow, probably not enough to make a different but at least it isn’t hot and windy.

I cooked dinner in the Tiny House, testing out the induction burner I bought well over a year ago and have never used (it worked great) and made Fettuccine Alfredo for the boys. Casey and I listened to the debate and I felt snug and secure in my little space.

Home follows me where I go.

Tiny living requires the utmost mindfulness. If I leave anything out, it impacts the entire space, so I put things away immediately. It’s not a struggle for me, I am already inclined to live like that. Jason did such a good job corking the house up. A $20 oil filled radiator keeps the space plenty warm. When it is extremely cold, like right now when it’s 18 degrees out, another $20 forced air heater makes it downright toasty.

I’m sitting on my sofa, music playing, having taken the dogs out for their morning constitutional, coffee next to me, and writing. I feel at home despite what my dream might have been saying to me. My hope is that with time Lonny and I will find a comfortable homeostasis where we exist harmoniously.

He’s still figuring out the schedule, confused by it. He is unsure about what he is supposed to do and what I do. This morning he came over asking if I had flour in the Tiny House.

Flour? There’s no oven in here. Micah has been into making mug cakes at night, I guess he goes through it. Lonny has lived in a magical house where low supplies are noticed and replenished without any effort on his part. It was my job, it’s not a failing on his part. But now he’s in a world where he must notice and remember and make a trip to the store. I’m sure it is disorienting.

I lose patience, reiterating the same words over and over, frustration in my voice that I must repeat myself. Listening isn’t his superpower. Observing others for their cues isn’t either. Taking note of what is missing and putting it on the to-do pile is like touch-typing for me. I don’t need to tell my fingers where to go on the keyboard, they just go there. He’s still hunting and pecking because he hasn’t spent the last 18 years practicing. It’s not wrong, it just is.

There’s a reason I was a great personal assistant. Observing someone, learning their needs is a reflex. I know how to get inside people, I devote part of my brain and turn it into a hard-drive that mimics theirs. I can think like them.

It’s like there’s a running spreadsheet in my head that logs likes, dislikes, pet peeves, daily rhythms, preferences. After a learning period I can anticipate almost everything, I can head anything off at the pass, until the emotional labor of it completely burns me out and I shut down. It takes a lot of focus to keep that up and I have a hard time splitting my attention between my own realm and the other person’s, it’s exhausting. Lack of boundaries and blurred lines are my greatest enemies. I’m trying so hard to see when I do this and to speak up, and to not place my own needs in the backseat. Not to confuse what I want with what they want.

COVID really threw me for a loop. Being that tired, that hobbled, really scared me. Instead of letting myself be cared for, I shut everyone out. It frightened me to feel helpless and boxed in. I have a hard time accepting love and kindness, it makes me feel vulnerable. I worry about having the balance sheet not in my favor.

In the summer I went for a bike ride with my sweetheart. I borrowed a bike with toe cages, which none of my bikes have ever had. Like everyone else who uses them for the first time, I forgot about them and when we slowed to a stop I wasn’t able to put my foot down in time and did that hilarious thing where I fell over at a dead stop.

It still hurts.

I sprung to my feet and brushed myself off, burning with embarrassment. My sweetheart wanted to look me over, to hug me, to see if I was okay. I completely shut him out, I didn’t want him to look at me, I didn’t want to talk about it. My hand was bruised, I was a little banged up, it would have felt good to be sat down, have my scrapes attended to, tears wiped, my hurts kissed better, but I couldn’t do it. I was mad at myself for being weak and vulnerable so I walked ahead of him so he couldn’t catch my eye.

I know this behavior confuses him. There is nothing wrong with attending to someone who has just hurt themself. It feels bad to be brushed off and yet I do it to him all the time. I prefer the position of caregiver even though I come to resent it. I want to be independent in every way although part of me longs to be taken care of, to know how that feels, to experience that trust and abandon. To feel beloved.

We approach our year anniversary and I find myself retreating, closing myself off. I’m all about numbers and milestones, a year under our belt should make me feel safe. A year of being heard, of repeated offers to show up for me and my kids, of never dismissing my feelings, of sticking around when I’m at my most insecure, even seeing me when I’m wrathful, which is something no one would want to see. All that should make this anniversary joyous and a relief. We made it! So what is this fear?

Fear. Of. Intimacy.

I would never have guessed that that’s my thing. I come on so strong, so seemingly open and courageous, but under it is this thing that closes me off. Such terror.

What can I do? Talk about it, write about it, share it with my sweetheart and see what he has to say, notice when I back away and take a deep breath and choose to lean into vulnerability.

JJ (hi JJ) observed that I give my vulnerability away too easily and soon. I dangle it out there at first as an opening bid, it is overwhelming and beautiful. Please love me. It was after I ended a short thing with a man who demanded my vulnerability – even coaching my voice – and used it as a weapon. I’m paraphrasing (and I’m sure she will correct me in the comment) but she said something like, “You shouldn’t give your vulnerability away, it’s something that should be earned.”

I hold that advice in my heart. I feel like now is the time.

One thought on “Fear of Intimacy

  1. It is nice to know that someone has taken my advise. 🙂 It is interesting how you have similar qualities as my baby sister. She never asks for help, if she falls she gets up so quickly not even checking to make sure she is OK. She likes the ball to be in her court. She is very nurturing and kind. If I do something for her she feels like she has to reciprocate immediately. I am not sure if you are like that? She doesn’t want to feel like she owes anyone. I was at her house for 5 wks hanging with mom. I altered and fixed many of her things, and we created together, which of course I love doing. She was constantly giving me bitchen things. “If you insist”. BTW You are such an amazing writer.

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