Intimacy? Please Knock First.




poem written August 2012
every inch closer you come toward me
is every inch farther from myself that I am
so by the time your cock is pressing against
the putty of my cervix,
i have found a home inside your walls
like the twilight zone where the little girl
gets lost in the walls
and drifts bemused
around cubist boulders.
i push my palm flat against your wall
– ragged pockmarks, cool satin paint –
as if this physical sensation
will pull me back through
and hearing the suck and slap, forward and back
i note that, somewhere, i must be enjoying this.
* * *
Sometime in my mid to late teens, I began to keep a list of
my hook-ups. I color coded them with markers, each color of the rainbow
representing an act, beginning with red for kissing, and going around the
Sometime in my early twenties, I went to this list with a
pink highlighter and marked those on this now extensive list that had involved alcohol, including the one when I lost my virginity. Nearly all wound up pink.
A habit evolved early: I am rarely present in my
body during events like this. Whether that’s alcohol related, or as with
the above poem, which took place in sobriety, simply a self-protection habit.
Several of the acts on that list were not entirely consensual,
and most would not have happened if alcohol hadn’t been involved — but some
surely would have, because that’s what you wanted from me, wasn’t it?
This was the story I told myself for a very, very long time.
Sometimes I still think it. You’re interested in what you see, so I’ll give you
what you see and nothing more – the “real” me will be hidden, withdrawn,
somewhere else. It’s not safe for me to be present during these acts because
of the many times before when my answer was no but I was too drunk to argue, so it happened anyway.
How. Do. You. Integrate?
I still hold my breath most times I hug people, a way to
retract and not be vulnerable. Do I simply become more aware of these patterns,
and they fall away? Do I trust that these parts can heal if I allow them into
the light, after so long of protecting them, protecting me?
If I’m fully present during sex, then I’m vulnerable.
Vulnerable to the overstepping of boundaries, vulnerable to my inability to own
my No or my Not now. Also, I’m vulnerable to the disappointment of not getting
what I need or want when I do ask – better to just sort of be checked in, and fake it.
A friend asked me last week what my “story” was with guys
right now. That I must be beating them away with a stick. That he was truly
shocked to hear that I’m not, and never really have. I have intimacy
issues, I told him.
Which will only get me so far. I don’t want to have intimacy issues. I don’t want to hold my breath, check out, or pretend that things
are okay when they’re not. I don’t want to hide behind the armor of “I have
issues” or continue to babysit my wounds in a way that prevents them from being
In the end, I have to grieve what was lost. The moments of
powerlessness, terror, self-abandonment, betrayal. In order to do that, I have
to acknowledge them, which is a way to
bring them to light. I don’t have to share them here with you, but I can share
with you my process of moving (and wanting to move) from constriction, protection, and hiding to
care, openness, and trust.
As I’ve been reading, being vulnerable, yes, lays us open to
pain, but it is also the only tool for true connection we have. By protecting
my sore places, I also prevent closeness … intimacy.
What would it be like to be present in my body? To accept
and care for the body I have myself, and pony up to ensure that it’s/I’m safe
when I’m with others in a vulnerable way? Can I trust myself?

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