Tuesday, December 12, 2006

True Intimacy

He of the pink boots and snake repellant is visiting again, this time at my invitation. I know, I know, you're wondering why I invited him. Been wondering that myself.

The thing is, I've always understood that Pink Boot Guy is an incredibly generous, loving man. I've also believed that, deep down, he's very angry, and he admits that for much of the time of our relationship, he was angry with me because he didn't understand my priorities (kids before Everything) and was hurt by my choices. He says he's come to understand the reasons for those priorities and believes he can accept them.

Okay, that sort of explains why he wanted to come here to see me, but not why I agreed. At a friend's suggestion, I recently read Women Who Love Too Much. Boy, was that a whap upside the head with a big piece of heavy, wet lumber. All my life, I've gone after unavailable men. Emotionally unavailable, I mean. Men whose mothers rejected them, men whose parents were alcoholic, men whose families were deeply, deeply disfunctional—broken men who coped by maintaining safe distances from everything and everyone. Over and over and over, I believed my love could save the man I loved, could change him from an angry, distant, cold, impatient, agressive human into a koala bear without the fur and long toenails.

Didn't work. Never worked. Made me miserable and got me divorced. Twice.

After reading WWLTM, I realize I've been playing out childhood patterns all my adult life. I also realize that choosing unavailable men allowed ME to remain at a safe distance. It's no accident that I've picked men who can't tolerate intimacy—it's pretty tough for me to handle, too.

Pink Boot Guy arrived the day after The Great Mouse Incident and set about making sure there were no more mice in the house. Then, while I was at the salon and working on the DIY book in progress, he began cleaning and disinfecting every single inch of the pantry and laundry room. Even moved the washer and dryer to clean behind them.

What was my reaction to this act of generosity and kindness?

Total meltdown. When I came home and found him sorting the stuff in my throw-it-here-and-deal-with-it-later area, it felt as though I'd come across a burglar pawing through my underwear drawer. My tendency to put off dealing with paperwork and other annoying facts of life is my worst characteristic, and there he was, looking at and touching evidence of my massive failings. Might be easier to walk naked through Times Square at midnight on New Year's Eve than to let someone see my shortcomings. Wearing glasses no less.

Might be.

Anyway, when I stopped crying and shaking, I tried to explain my craziness, tried to tell him I knew it made no sense and that he was doing nothing wrong. Doing a lot right, in fact. Still, I asked him to stop going through the closets and drawers and refrain from messing with stuff not normally in view of visitors.

Why, I ask you, would I object to this kind of help? My average work day, which starts between 5:00 and 5:30am and ends sometime around 10:00pm, includes several hours at the salon and spa that I own, no less than an hour or two helping my parents with odds and ends, more hours writing the DIY books that pay the bills, more working on the novel that feeds my dreams, and more taking care of my beloved home with little or no outside help. Why am I not kissing this man's feet rather than watering his socks with my tears?

I can't imagine why he'd do these things; can't fathom what would make him care that much. I've spent decades doing similar things for the men I've loved, but never, ever has anyone done this sort of thing for me.

The question is why, and I'm pretty sure the answer is that I've chosen men who wouldn't test my intimacy boundaries, and then bemoaned the fact that they were distant or uncaring, trying every way I could to get them to love me enough to change into what I said I wanted. Who knows, if any of them had actually changed, I may have melted into puddles of icy water on their socks rather than on his.

Damn, this living consciously thing is tough. Self-awareness sucks when you don't like what you find in your own deep, dark corners.

From where I sit, intimacy seems to be the hardest word.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been present for a lot of spoken and written words over the years, but this is one of the courageous things I've yet heard from my soul sister.

Great writing and even greater self awareness.

Keep asking the questions. That's where the answers lie.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

You answered your own question. Why did you meltdown instead of kissing his feet? He saw an intimate side of you, and he hadn't asked for permission to see it, he just looked anyway. I hate that too! Look how the world continued to spin, though, you with glasses and a "don't look in here" area "discovered" by another human. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give another, is to show them we're only human, too. It can be a big relief for everyone. Next writing workshop, no make-up and bed head! I know you can do it!

~NanCourt~ said...

Ouch.

This one hit a nerve since I do not allow my junk heaps to be invaded either.

Spiritual, emotional, physical, and all others rolled into a big muddy ball......unless I invite you to clean it up, please stay away.

I am not nearly as strong as you are. I do not peel away my own layers of the onion as I cannot bear the sting of the pungent odors.

Good for you and here's hoping Mr. Pink Boots provides what you need or don't need....intimacy or safe distance.

Thinking of you but just not very blogg-ey or Christmas-ey right now.