Woman on Canvas

Woman on Canvas

Creating intimacy is about making space.  It is not about closeness.  It is about trust, risk- taking, adrenaline, and love and probably a thousand other things.  Intimacy is making a space for you to be you, with me, maybe in me.  It is stepping back far enough to see who you really are, and are not, and saying this:  I see you.  It is allowing you to make that same space for me to be who I am, fearlessly (even though it is unbelievably scary), and be seen.  It is you and me, looking at each other, naked, wearing only our self-ness.

I know I am closing the door on intimacy the minute I start saying to myself (because I don’t tell you until it is too late, until the resentments arise), she shouldn’t be that way. She isn’t that way, not the person I met.  Etc.  These are all the stories I make up about you.  I then require you to be close to me so that I can try to mold you in to the shape of my fear.  Very close.  The intimate space erodes and we are fused.  That fusion is what I then lie to myself about and call it intimacy.  I have to tell the lie in order to make you be who I need you to be.  I know this is happening when I feel stuck, cornered, lost with you. I feel ashamed and angry with you because I am robbing you of your space and that goes against my integrity.  That robbery requires a lot of juggling and story-telling and it requires you to stay put and take it. The dance of fusion is performed in blocks of ice.  We don’t flow.

I want to see the men and women in my life for who they are.  I know it is only a statement but if I don’t at least say that, then I am likely to continue to believe that I must see them for who I think they should be.  I want to be seen for who I am, fearlessly, even if I am afraid of that.

Todos Santos, Baja, 2009.  Nikon D100, natural light.  Painter, unknown.

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6 Responses to Woman on Canvas

  1. Amanda says:

    Beautiful Stephen! I am glad Barbara sent me the link to your blog. I’ll check back with you often. If you feel so inclined to look, I post photographs with quotes on one of my blogs at http://www.SandPaintingMyLife.blogspot.com

  2. Once again I’m captivated. I find myself coming back to the blog and looking at the picture, then reading the article. I have a wonderful wife. God has been very good to me. But I’m so guilty of the lack of intimacy as Stephen defines in this article. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say, I believe this is the first time I’ve ever thought of intimacy in this way…”making space” not “closeness”. My wife is truly my best friend, I never feel “closed in” by her. I’m not sure the mirror is where I want to be looking right now, but I want to be for her everything she is to me. Thanks for the insight Stephen!

  3. stephenarcher says:

    Thank you for the comments and for the feedback. My hope is that this site will serve as a way to get discussions going–maybe just an internal dialogue or between people who visit.
    Steve, I hope that the guilt can give way to the opportunity. The very fact of your wanting intimacy in a new way, will start the creaky door opening…

  4. Kathleen says:

    This reminds me of a conversation I was having with my husband this evening. I made a mild remark backed by a drop of upset. But really, that drop was just another in an ocean of upset along the same subject. Not just with my husband, but with others, from my past. He is the master at detecting even the smallest hints of emotion, which makes it very hard to hide behind my seemingly innocent words. He became very upset and he quickly blew it up into something that it was not, at least, not for me. But it was a chance to practice seeing his stuff come up for him, giving him space and remaining non-reactive. At times I had to ask myself if I was just detached or if I really was present. I think I went in and out. I saw more of him. I had to ask myself, “what is the worst that will happen if he never lets this go and is angry with me forever?” Then it was okay. He remained angry a while longer and I sat through that uncomfortableness, but then his anger passed. It was a beginning for me, hopefully I can remember more often. The words come to mind that I should be proud of myself for remembering to see his pain for what it was, his. But I don’t feel proud, I feel thankful. Anyway, I thought I would share this experience I had.

  5. Yea, I’m that guy that explodes at the oddest times. It’s not so much at my wife or kids, it’s more at myself but they have to endure it. As you know Steve, I’ve had to deal with some very unusual sets of circumstances within two of my companies. Somehow I can keep that under check. But then, let something insignificant irritate me and wham…it’s like I’ve been hit over the head with a two by four. I might be irritable the rest of the evening. It’s interesting though, my wife is always there for me in the most subtle ways…giving me that space I need or putting her hand on my shoulder to add a little comfort or asking the boys to play outside for awhile; just lots of little things like that. However, I’m not always sure when to reciprocate since she always seems comfortable. Even our neighbors and friends are constantly seeking advice from her or using her as a sounding board because she listens to them. She just listens. Not me, I’m already trying to solve their problem in my head…and they’re not even asking me for advice. I’m hoping that creaky door opens a lot more. By the way Kathleen, thanks for sharing.

    • stephenarcher says:

      the space between is the key to it I think. Allowing. Permission. Your wife allows you to vent. Kathleen’s waited out her husband’s anger. Creating space in any tense or binding situation helps me so much. Sometimes it just takes the form of waiting…

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