Reflections on Intimacy and Privacy

Intimacy is the feeling of closeness in a relationship that we get when respect and trust is shared mutually, forming a bridge, a bond, that is very precious, and intimacy is something that we all seek.

Privacy is the sense of living within one’s own skin, having boundaries and limits that protect oneself from being used, controlled, or invaded by another person.

When we respect another’s privacy, the respect develops trust, the trust encourages openness.  In that openness we begin to see our essential selves in the other person, deep within them, and we hear the echo of our own story within their story.

We cannot force someone else to be honest, or to say more than they want to say.  We cannot make them accept our analysis and interpretation of their situation.  We cannot solve their problems, we cannot reveal what they should do next in their life.

Yet, we can listen, and listening is an act of love.  When you are speaking, and a group of people is listening to you with their full attention, making eye contact with you, you can feel the acceptance, you can feel the love.  For some of us, this could be frightening, to be loved unconditionally.

Some of us grew up with so many conditions laid upon us that we do not know how to respond to a lack of conditions.  We may feel disoriented, lost, and we truly are lost.  We have lost our true selves.

So it is important when listening to allow the speaker the time and space to find themselves in their speaking, to not help them out of their cocoon, to let them develop their own conclusions, lessons, and meanings to their own life story.

We need to “just drive the car that we are in,” and not someone else’s.  Analyzing another person could be a way of avoiding being seen, of hiding, of keeping the focus away from what we fear, the emptiness within us that we are sometimes convinced really exists (it doesn’t).

The listener and the speaker are faced with the exact same question:  “How much do I want to be really seen and known as I truly am?”  The speaker is just telling their story, but the listener becomes just as visibly known by how well they listen, accept, and respect the story of another without comment, interpretation, or expansion.

This kind of listening is done with humility, the awareness that regardless of what role or title we have borne in human society, we are but a speck of sand on the beach of the Universe, equal to all the other grains of sand, yet still having a uniqueness and place to fulfill in the unfolding of the Universe.

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