What Are You Afraid Of? Intimacy

by Joshua Hoe

Back in my days of dating and popularity…

I think of the many times that I was physically close to a girlfriend and pulled away from her (sometimes turning from that experience directly to acting out rather than stay close).

Physical closeness should be good right?

I should have thought of these moments as special, and yet, I often pulled away or left entirely…sometimes at night sleeping, I would purposely roll my back to her when she tried to get close.

Yes, I would actually be awake but pretend I was asleep so turning over would seem natural.

The Fear Of Intimacy

To non addicts, this kind of behavior probably seems insane…Wouldn’t you think the whole point of being with someone was to reach this level of intimacy and closeness? Wouldn’t you think that I was turning away from the actual moments that I should be cherishing.

I, however, feared nothing more than intimacy.

I (and many addicts I have met) played a double game…I wanted a good relationship but also was absolutely terrified of being in a good relationship. What I desired in the abstract terrified me when it became particular (real).

Upon reflection, I was more afraid of the intimacy than I was of the acting out.

I was more afraid of the intimacy than I was of either sex or acting out. Of the actual physical and emotional closeness…of the being vulnerable.

I never necessarily connected sex with intimacy…and sex or acting out certainly made me feel less exposed and vulnerable than anything that I shared that did not fit into a predictable basket.

Where Did My Fear/s Come From

I believe that my problems with relationships come from a pre-coded trust deficit.

As an addict, way back in the beginning of my problems, I suffered trauma/s that made me believe deeply that most people would never really care for me and that if anyone cared for me that there had to be a trick…The mere fact that they were acting like they cared told me that it had to be fake.

In other words, for anyone trying to get close to me, they could not win for losing, they were caught between my fear of everyone hating me and my mistrust of anyone who “acted” like they liked me.

What I didn’t want to believe was that I was looking at the world through false glasses.

What I didn’t want to do was be forced from my secret internal world…

To actually connect and be vulnerable…

To be truly open to someone else…

To be back in that place where I could be hurt….

And so, instead, I lived at arms-length. I was with people just enough for the relationship to happen…and then the disintegration would start…

The slow withdrawal…

The emotional cruelty…

I am anything but proud of any of this.

User Error

The truth is that way back when, at the trauma times…I learned exactly the wrong lessons and protected myself in the most counterproductive ways possible.

I fixated on the people who were cruel to me, instead of the people that loved me.

I made myself outwardly invulnerable, but internally relieved the nightmares every day and with every slight or perceived insult.

I built a wall that kept the hurt inside…and everyone else outside.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!

(that’s an end of the Cold War reference, sorry for dating myself)

What are you afraid of? Share any stories you wish to share! Feel free to leave a comment!

As always, we do not identify ourselves with any particular program or organization and we hold no leadership role in any particular program or organization. The purpose of this blog is to share experience, strength, hope across the recovery community.

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