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Looking at Our World Through Poetry: Fear of Intimacy

I’m afraid to get too close. I’m terrified That I’ll be hurt - Hurt, yet again. I’m Afraid of Intimacy.

Music plays softy In the background; Light from soft glowing candles Creates the interplay of Light and shadow; Of possible Romance. Anything seems possible In this half-light In this other worldly place. My wife cuddles closer. She moves her fingers lightly Across my face, Playfully Tantalizingly. We’re alone And I know That tonight, We can reach heights hitherto unexplored. But, I’m afraid; Oh, so very, very afraid. Why should this night Be different from any other night In my life? Night after night, As a little boy, I lay in my bed, Afraid Desperate Longing Hurting Longing for an older human hand To touch my very, very human little hand. Longing - Sometimes, I knew not what it was That I craved With every pore Of my young body and soul. Inexplicable longing - A longing so desperate, That at times It felt like my heart would burst. Is there anyone else In my family like me? Does anyone else have These strange desires Those stirrings of the throat Of the heart Of the stomach? My head hurts My whole body longs To run from my bed; To run as fast as I can To Mommy’s and Daddy’s room; To climb into bed with them. Perhaps, they’d let me stay tonight Perhaps, they’d hold me tight. Perhaps, they’d say, “Son, I love you” “Son, we love you” “You can come to us with anything Anytime Anywhere.” But you know, I know, It wouldn’t work. I tried it two or three times before, Back when I was much littler Than I am now. They yelled at me - Yes, both of them, | “You’re disturbing our sleep. Don’t you know this is Our Private Sanctum?” Sanctum - I wonder what that is. I tried to look it up in the dictionary at school But I couldn’t find it. Perhaps, I didn’t look in the right place. I almost asked my teacher How to spell Sanctum; But, I was afraid She would say It was some terrible adult word - A word that children aren’t supposed to know. I was afraid She’d laugh at me Or yell at me. I was only four, then. I guess I must have been Sort-of-smart I was already in school. I was already in Reading Class. The teacher had me perform For visiting dignitaries: I felt like a trained dolphin Or a dog who Did tricks on command. My parents seemed proud of me But, nobody ever touched me, Not once, not ever. — Nobody, ever, even hugged me, Not unless it was When I was a baby, - Too young to know What was happening. But, somehow, even then, I don’t feel Like I was really, really, touched. I don’t feel loved I don’t feel lovable I don’t feel special I never have. In the depths of my Soul, I know, without the shadow Of a doubt, That no one, No, not even one of my parents Ever looked deep into my eyes Touched my little nose Caressed my tiny face Surrounded my body with love. I feel so empty On the inside; I’ve always felt that way. And now, | I’m supposed to know How to react | To the touch of Love; | To the touch of a woman Who says she loves me; Who says she loves me, Just because I’m me, With all the glorious Wondrous Bounteous Miraculous Potential and Actuality, She sees in my person. How do I deal with this? Talk about foreign worlds Multi-cultural marriages Socioeconomic differences Different intellectual horizons. Well, here comes another alien mixture: Intimacy touches fear Longing touches terror Touch transforms aversion Love fills emptiness Peace touches chaos. Where do I go from here? What she offers sounds wonderful; Feels great. But, it’s Foreign Territory; I’m not programmed for Intimate Touch. Oh, I’ve learned the appropriate Business handshake. That’s touch, right, But superficial Fleeting. Business - Not personal Not intimate. I’m terrified! She moves closer still. I excuse myself For a moment. I get up | I readjust the logs in the fireplace. I add a log I adjust the fire screen. While I’m up, I’ll refresh our drinks. Anything - Any movement That will allow me To get my riotous emotions Under control. I don’t want To blow this relationship, too. We’ve shared so much together But, ve never allowed us To be truly intimate Because I don’t know how, And I’m scared, Oh, so scared. I’m sick with fear: Fear fills the pit of my stomach; My hands are wet with The stress of non-surrender; My heart pounds in my chest, From passion, yes, But, mostly from fear. I’m terrified. I’m just as afraid; | Just as paralyzed with indecision With longing As that little boy was, Oh, so many years ago; I’m still that little boy. I know that. But does she, my wife, know? - I wish I could be truly brave I wish I could be fully honest I wish I could tell her everything That I feel, in my heart, In this fear-sodden moment. Would she understand? Could anyone be that empathetic? Perhaps, she has fears, too; Perhaps, she has vulnerabilities. Perhaps, we could achieve A new level of Intimacy, If I talked If she talked If we were truly honest; If we allowed ourselves To be truly strong; To be truly Human. Betty R. Stockley Copyright 2000

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