Intimacy, Fear, and Self Love
Updated: Dec 9, 2021
A Powerful Healer
The silent promise of new love is “I can love the parts of you that you still believe are unlovable.” Love is like a bright light: when it shines on us, it illuminates the parts of us that have been in the shadows, and the remaining shadows (cast by the parts of us that block out the light) become darker, and so more easy to see, too.
One reaction to this might be hope - the hope that maybe things will feel OK, that finally those parts lost in the darkness can find a loving home. These parts of me that I’ve carefully hidden can come forth, be received, be felt, be seen, be heard, be accepted, and be loved. And this is what those parts deeply long for, yet long since decided was impossible.
The unconscious belief is “How could someone (anyone!) love that! Least of all me.” These parts are deemed unacceptable, and are rejected by us because that is the part we concluded was responsible for pain. Maybe that was pain of rejection, of abandonment, of isolation, loneliness, disconnection, separation, of being not enough, or too much… In our distant past, those around us, responded to those parts by turning away, by shaming, leading our younger self to feel the whole ghastly gamut. We each have our own version of these ancient stories — it doesn’t even take bad parents or a bad childhood to generate this pattern — virtually no-one is immune.
A strong love from another person beckons forth these hidden parts with the gentle whisper “I will love you”. The frightened child part meekly raises her small voice; “Who me?” “Yes, you” love replies softly. The angry teen part squashed into the pit of my belly challenges; “What about me?” “Especially you.” Love replies with a smile. “Even me?” Asks a part feeling ashamed of bad behaviour. “Yes, love can hold you all. You are all welcome here!” And so on, as the light of love shines through all these cracks.
Accompanying this can be a feeling of expansion. You feel expanded both because more of you is illuminated than before, and because the energy used for keeping those rejected parts under wraps is now freed. This can lead to feeling more energised too - less sleep may be needed. There can be a feeling of rapture. And because love is the same however, whatever, and by whomever it is felt, and because love is divine, one may also feel inspired, connected to spirit, able to live from a place of connection to all beings. When we feel that all beings are one, we will become kinder, more generous, and more loving towards all our fellow beings.
Intimacy involves total openness of our whole self. The willingness to be seen in all our aspects — the light and dark; the bliss and pain. The only way to truly feel secure in a loving relationship is to feel you are not hiding — when we do not hide, the thought that “If only they knew/saw/experienced this part of me, they wouldn’t love me, but would reject or abandon me” is empty, as nothing can be left to replace “this”. When nothing is hidden, your beloved sees you as you are, and they are still loving, thoughts like this have no power.
The only way to feel the trust and safety you long for in love, it to come fully out of hiding. Yes, it is a risk. And this is where the fear gets hold. Fear is a common reaction to the experience of love. It is its opposite, in fact; while love expands, fear contracts. It is the ego’s reaction to the possibility of pain. This is practically the ego’s job description, so it is not a malfunction, but an adaption to defend ourselves. Whatever our conception of the “self” we are defending might be! These newly illuminated aspects have been pushed away because we believe them to be unlovable, usually because at some early time, they were not loved in a crucial moment. And if we allow them out into the open and they are rejected again, the ego assures us that the pain would be unbearable.
To protect ourself from this pain, the ego throws up a protective shield that will prevent the painful part being felt. That shield is sometimes fear (it has others!) As we approach, it cries “turn back! Don’t go over here! Ooooooo it’s scary! Look away! Anything but this! Terrible things will happen.” The ego deploys fear as a strategy to keep you in the false safety of the status quo - defended and closed. This naturally prevents intimacy, as it blocks you and the other from seeing those parts it is protecting. Closeness cannot thrive if you won’t go, or allow anyone else to go near it. This strategy is effective for those times when we are really in danger, around unsafe people, or too overwhelmed or under-resourced, and yet the cost of the strategy is that it thwarts our chances of the needs of those parts ever being met.
Fear of Intimacy
And the medicine of self-love
Fear is smoke and mirrors. It is nothing to be afraid of! Look directly at it and it dissipates like mist on a sunny morning. To me it appears like a tiny mouse in a monster mask casting a shadow many times bigger than its true size, by standing in front of the light in just such a way. Once it sees you looking, it’ll scurry off out of view, pretending to be a different, and much worse monster - “Ah-ha! But don’t look here! This is terrrrrrr-i-fying! Really bad things will happen!” It threatens. The game continues. So hold your gaze steady and don’t believe its stories.
The trick is to get past the fear — beneath the fear, through the fear — to the thing that it is preventing us from seeing in ourselves. What is the part of us that we are protecting? What is the pain we are afraid of feeling? Know that however bad it may seem, the anticipation, the fear, the thought of it is always far worse than the actually lived experience of it. The pain itself is just a sensation. Ever changing. Bound to dissolve with time. Have you felt a pain that lasts forever? Practice this: next time you feel an itch, don’t scratch it. Watch it. I promise that it will disappear after some time - no sensation, no matter how intense, can possibly last forever!
The shift that is needed is to become willing to feel the pain. So, softly invite it. Gently touch its edges with your loving awareness. And then allow yourself to sink into it. Under the gaze of your consciousness if you can bring with it a willingness to experience and fully feel what is there, this is where the transformation of fear into love can occur - the magical alchemy that is the true meaning of healing.
The medicine of self-love
Learning to love yourself
So what when we get to it? We’ve seen the fear for what it is, the frightened child has taken off the monster mask, and has shown us her pain. Now we bring this part close to us, open our heart to it, wrap our arms around it and conjure up the very best version of a nourishing unconditionally loving parent-self that we can. We can speak to her in all the ways we intuit that she needs us to. Tell her you love her. Tell her you understand her, and she is acceptable. Tell her how grateful you are that she exists and thank her for all that she has done for you, to keep you safe, and surviving. Tell her that no matter what, you will never ever leave her, you will never abandon her, and you will love her forever, no matter what. Welcome her to stay as long as she wants. Invite her to tell you her story, her dreams, and her needs. Offer to meet those needs, and to keep listening as they change, and to meet those fresh needs as they arise. Most often, all that is needed is our attention. Our kind, loving, affectionate attention. Easy!
If this is not natural to you yet, the transformational process you are guided through in the Be Beloved Self Love Initiation may well be the ticket - down to earth, practical, holistic, and very very effective step by step process to get you feeling an embodied sense of self love, trickling through to all those long forgotten, those strongly guarded, and those vulnerable parts of you just needing your loving attention.
As you love yourself, and this finds its way deep into your inner system, deep into all the shadowy crevices and hidden nooks and crannies, you will find it possible to sit with an open heart with others who share the same pain, and the dance of protectors that often passes for relationship can soften into genuine intimacy.