The paradox of gaining intimacy is only people who are close to you are able to hurt you. You can prevent yourself from getting hurt if you never make yourself vulnerable. But there is no connection without vulnerability.
Everyone says they want intimacy. They want to find their soulmate. Someone they can align themselves with in romance or in business or in passion. They will give everything they have almost to fill this type of void in their lives. But then when they run into the real thing, they find that now they are at risk of getting hurt really badly.
Is it worth it?
Right there we have the struggle. In order to gain the benefits of getting closer to people — I have found that this applies to friendship as well as romantic relationships — we have to potentially risk getting so close to them that either the relationship will grow into something deep and lasting or it will die out completely and with a lot of hurt feelings.
We’ve all heard of the friendship that turned into more than a friendship that ended up killing the friendship when the relationship didn’t pan out.
I say, no pain no gain.
The truth is, I have a lot of shallow relationships — glorified acquaintances really — but very few friends. And the truth is, many of the people who call me friend really don’t know the depths of me. It’s safer that way. If you can maintain the facade of a friendship, you can still hang out and do things together, you can shoot the shit and text every once in awhile, and you can disappear for long enough periods of time that you don’t have to share the ugliest sides of yourself, the ugly struggles you must face.
But once you get closer to them and you start to rely on each other, you start to confide in each other — you can never go back. Your relationship’s true nature is exposed. That is a risky place. It’s scary as hell.
In this season I’ve watched some of my friendships get close enough to face some of these more difficult tests and most of them didn’t survive. I’ve watched my relationships with these people die as soon as we realized that the foundation of our friendship was based on the facade that we were more connected than we really were. When we examined if there was a true connection by going deeper, we ended up finding out that there wasn’t a match after all.
See, this hurts. I’m on one extreme of the spectrum — I will go for it every time. I will risk every relationship I have that has the potential to go deeper in order to seek true connection. But I will witness (and have witnessed) many casualties in the process.
On the other hand, I find most other people do the opposite. They are the people that get scared once they get too close, once things get too real. I believe deep down they want connection but instead of partnering with faith in the possibility of a match, they instead partner with fear and run back to what is familiar.
For me, that’s an impossibility. Why would you lie to yourself? Why would you lie to one another?
To me these people are cowards.
They’re the same people that distract themselves after the fact to prove that they have “moved on,” when in reality they just have refused to deal with the issue obviously right in front of them. And then they run into the same problem with different people again and again.
But for those that have chosen the other road — the ones that tell the truth, the ones that face that harsh reality, the ones that tally up risk and realize that there are casualties in battle for the awakening of the spirit — there are costs.
It means turning down sex because they don’t want to have to explain to their wife later on that they slept with someone they knew they wouldn’t marry because they couldn’t control their physical urges. It means refusing to take on a menial job that would improve their social standing and provide immediate financial gratification because wasting time trading hours for dollars is throwing away their most valuable resource — so they work instead on their passion without pay.
I believe there are people out there like this. Ones that won’t settle for good when they can go for the best. I believe there are people out there that value the ability to look in the mirror and tell the truth to themselves. The ones that can lie on their pillow at night and know they didn’t miss the mark a single time that day, that week, or that month (and not in a self-righteous prick kind of way). But these people are few and far between.
That’s why they say the road is narrow.