RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Oprah Winfrey

relationship intimacy: building longer term connections, pt. 3

relationship intimacy: building longer term connections, pt. 3

[Read Part 1 and Part 2.]

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings,infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up – if they succeed in loving the distance between them, which makes it possible for each to see the other Whole against the sky.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

When I paused my story in Part 2, I was at home experiencing the most severe pain I’d ever known …

The next day, Saturday, after rolling out of the bed onto the floor for the seemingly 100th time, I pray, “Lord, I need your help. I’ve been down here on my knees more times in past 24 hours than I have in past five years!” I was at home all day alone since Stacy was attending our son’s father-in-law’s funeral. Then finally the third day, Sunday, I begin to find some relief. While watching a movie, with a sense of amazement, of complete surprise, I realize that I’d uttered the same words to both my wife and to God, “I need your help.” I realize that I have two persons to whom I could say those words. I weep.

 The following week, we decide to go see the movie, The Butler.  While riding, my wife asks me, “Do you want me to get you something for our anniversary?” To this I reply, “If you need to you can, but there is something that you need to know, and that is whatever you purchase, it will pale in comparison to what you have already given to me.” There is silence between us. We just look into each other eyes, and then we smile.

In Part 2 we also listed two of three steps toward developing intimate relationships:

  • Understanding that achieving relational intimacy is messy.
  • Intentionally seeking a deeper level of intimacy with another.

Now, the third step is the process of becoming a more differentiated individual. As such, we must be aware of the fact that we will discover how utterly alone we truly are. For depth – for physical and sexual intimacy to happen – it seems that self-healing of our early life’s (i.e., childhood) relational injuries is necessary. Further, this work may require us to nurture a relationship where we can be and become our true selves; committing ourselves to looking at our earliest physical/sexual encounters with honesty and openness.

Physical and sexual intimacy evolves, but not without conversation between the partners. It seems to me that the ultimate aim in this aspect of the intimate relationship is for both partners to feel mutually accepted as individuals; and, to have mutual respect for each other’s uniqueness, along with learning to respect that uniqueness within oneself and the other. Unfortunately, this process is not for the faint of heart and may only be possible in a therapeutic relationship and space of safety.

part 3 lovers

Image: iloveblackart.net

Similarly, relational intimacy experienced during times of crises creates additional longings. When we encounter difficult personal situations, (e.g.; deaths of parents, children, spouses; the loss of a job, a change in physical health, etc.), we long for our familiar other, to provide a place of safety, so that our painful emotions/feelings are free from judgment. These areas require having an understanding individual when we are experiencing periods of extreme vulnerabilities in our lives. During these moments significant others, without realizing it, can often abandon the persons in our key relationships because we do not know how to hold the existential pain of those close to us in moments of crisis.

Finally, deep relationship intimacy occurs when our defenses are relaxed enough to allow our significant others to develop a capacity for emotional openness. Further, this level of openness therefore enables our loved ones to risk being vulnerable long enough to share aspects of their psychological and spiritual pain. What is relaxed is the unsupported fear of those others who will judge us for expressing our authentic selves.

When a significant other (i.e., spouse, parent, sibling, friend, etc.) for example, is able to observe me and to be with me in my moments of temporary anguish, I am healing within my innermost being. Still again, when I have a sudden epiphany about a long-lost childhood experience that is rooted in pain and trauma, and my loving other responds with affirmation, compassion, confirmation and empathy, then I am experiencing depth of intimacy—healing. My appointed and significant other is providing for me a holding space as I work through my anguish and my tears! The following example illustrates my point:

A mother hears her son’s painful memory of not being touched or physically held by her as he expresses this memory to his significant other. His mother is present during this open conversation. His mother, in turn, offers her recollection of her son’s account of their early life relationship. She affirms that his memory is accurate and true as her son had recalled and then offers a self-disclosing fact about herself. [She admits,] “He is right; it [her inability to touch or experience physical closeness] was about me. I couldn’t be available to the touchy-feely [because I didn’t know how] because I was afraid.” To this, the son replies, “That’s right.”

In that moment, the mother openly, without becoming defensive or attempting to protect herself from potentially hurt feelings, provides a longing hunger for her son. She receives the affection that her son has for his mother. This act is a deeply healing and transformative moment for both; in short, it is relational intimacy in living color. This moment is a non-judgmental and non-anxious response. His mother is able provide, as both are now adults, an important holding space for both to heal. Every child, from infancy throughout adulthood, hungers to know her or his parent is willing to receive her or his deeply abiding affection for that parent, mother first and then father.

The quote I used to open the final post in this series is a favorite poem of mine by Rainer Maria Rilke. It sums up the level of relational intimacy to which I’ve been reflecting. Again, I share it:

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings,infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up – if they succeed in loving the distance between them, which makes it possible for each to see the other Whole against the sky.”

Thank you for taking the time to reflect with me on relational intimacy. I look forward to being with you again soon via one of candi dugas & associates’ publications. Until then, take good care.

NOTE: In my narratives, I change the names of others than my own to protect individual privacy.

© 2016, James Bernard Kynes, Sr.

The Rev. James Bernard Kynes, Sr., M.Div., LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) practices at Crossings Counseling Center, Inc., in Decatur, GA. To read more about him and/or to connect with him, visit his website (http://www.jamesbernardkynessr.com/index.html), email (bkynesr@gmail.com) or call (404.378.2232).

Featured Image: iamaliminalbeing.blogspot.com

falling in love . . .

falling in love . . .

As I recently struggled with the status of my relationship and the repetition of romantic patterns that don’t lead me to my desired result, a friend suggested, “Maybe you just like falling in love.” (featured image from pinkparis1233.deviantart.com.)

“The use of the term ‘fall’ implies that the process [of falling in love] is in some way inevitable, uncontrollable, risky, irreversible, and that it puts the lover in a state of vulnerability, . . . .” ~Wikipedia

Hmmm . . . I’ve never thought of myself as “that girl.” Well, I allowed myself to consider his suggestion because in seeking an elusive answer we have to be open to every possibility. First, I understood how my friend could think that his suggestion would fit my situation. After all, my romances lately have been limited to the falling-in-love stage. Second, I “tried on” the concept. It didn’t feel like me, though. It felt awkward, like a dress that we think might be the answer to the needed outfit for an upcoming event, but once we put it on, the fabric and the feel aren’t quite right. Third, I adjusted myself a bit in the mirror, ya know, like picking at the dress here and there to see if I altered it, would it fit better. Then I considered adding a belt or a scarf? What if I put a slip under it or wore a different bra? Nawww. Nothing worked. The dress – his suggestion – wasn’t for me. So, I took it off and handed it to the sales associate to return to the sales floor for the next woman for whom it may be a perfect fit.

Now, I’m still without a solution, without an understanding of what’s going on in this area of my life. Like my friend asked, “How is it that you’re a beast in all the other areas of your life and struggle so here?” His question made me feel like Olivia Pope. Ha! Yet if I’m true to my spiritual practices of being present, aware, conscious, mindful, assured, in the flow, etc. – then there’s actually no press to figure it all out, right? All things work together and everything happens in its time. I will know the answers I seek at just the right moment. In the meantime, I decided to be at peace in this space of perplexity (so hard for me). Lao Tzu refers to spaces like these as times when we need to “let the mud settle.” I realized that the more I sloshed around seeking answers, the murkier everything became.

lao tzu mud settling quote

image from oriah mountain dreamer’s facebook page.

Then. It. Appeared.

The mud was settling.

A few weeks ago, OWN rebroadcast a throwback episode of the The Oprah Winfrey show during its “Super Soul Sunday” series. (I’m sure I saw it back then as I was a certified Oprah-Show Junkie – but it didn’t connect with me. It wasn’t time. ;-)) Oprah’s guest was Dr. Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want. Honestly, I started not to watch, almost changed the channel. I usually find such books and their advice to be hokey, warmed over steps that the public buys into like good-luck charms or pixie dust which never truly address the root causes of our issues. Nevertheless I continued to watch as Hendrix revealed my answer right before my eyes. He explained that our unconscious selves are determined to become healed and whole. Therefore until this happens, we continually attract the same person (different body) romantically. The goal is to resolve open issues from our childhoods. The people we attract will either be like our parents or they will evoke behavior in us like what we experienced from our parents.

BOO-YAH!

Just like that, the puzzle pieces fell into place. I began to understand that although I seemed to be stuck in falling-in-love mode, I was actually making progress. I realized that the men I was dating were increasingly more of what I want and need in my romantic person (a la Grey’s Anatomy). More than that, I realized that these improvements were more about my progress in healing my childhood ish than getting closer to finding the “ideal man.” (Another book that was immensely helpful which I initially resisted is If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path by Charlotte Kasl.) Essentially, “I attract that which I am.” (~Deepak Chopra)

i attract what i am

image from oprah & deepak’s 21-day relationship meditation challenge

For me, the determination of my unconscious self to be healed and whole explains the inevitability, risk and vulnerability in the Wikipedia definition of falling in love. I think of one of my most favorite Michael Jackson songs, “It’s the Falling in Love.” (~David W. Foster)

“now we’re just a web of mystery
a possibility of more to come
i’d rather leave the fantasy of what might be
but here i go falling again”

And so MJ brings me back to my original quandary – after I fall in love, what’s next? How do I get to and through the next stage that will eventually lead me to my desired result? How do I resolve the struggle of constantly going around the same mountain in a seemingly endless circle? Well, that answer is about being in love – the part that makes Mr. Jackson and the rest of us “cry, cry, cry.” And that will be the subject of my next post. Until then, I continue to celebrate this revelation. Yea! Thank you, G~d!

I hope you’ll celebrate with me, but along with all that I’ve written above, I leave you with one more consideration until the next post:

“Where I am impatient I lack trust. When we have trust that the unfolding will be in alignment with life & that the impulse for right action will arise from the centre of our being, we are not impatient. Learning to let our mud settle is learning to trust the sacred life force within to prompt us when action that will make a difference can be taken. Of course, most of us can appear still & be churning up the inner mud continuously.” ~Oriah Mountain Dreamer

(c) 2013, candi dugas, llc

%d bloggers like this: