I have been thinking about intimacy lately and allowing someone new into my world - how it might feel to let them see the good, the bad, the extraordinary, the messy, and the parts that I don't even like to see myself. All. of. the. parts.
Is there anything in life that could possibly be more terrifying?
All of us have done this thing so many times before, we make ourselves vulnerable. We hurt others and we have also been hurt. Does that mean it should now be easier to open up ... or is it more difficult? One rational plan of action would be to just quit the game completely. Don't open up. Don't get close. Don't form any relationships. After all, there can't be an ending without a beginning. If we don't go up, we can't fall down.
On the other hand, I like to pretend that all of my negative experiences along the way have somehow made me impervious to pain. Like sure, I'll play along with you but I know it doesn't matter what happens one way or another. I can't be hurt anymore. I'm untouchable.
In some ways, logic might even agree with that notion. Take a conditioned runner, an elite athlete. Their first race may have been so hard that they thought they were going to die. And then the second and third weren't fun either. But then, slowly, as they train more and progress, each season feels a little less intense. They have built up their armor and they are no longer doubting their capabilities. Sometimes it doesn't even matter to them if they win or lose the races. They learn something valuable each time.
I do think that too in relationships we learn something valuable each time and they all come with their own lessons, usually the best gift is we discover more about ourselves. But as far as signing up for the next race right away, that is where the analogy has its limits. Emotions involving other people can not be as easily quantified. We are very complex beings and in this situation, compared to running a race, there are significantly more confounding variables out of our control.
Oh but how I do wish these metrics could be measured more accurately. ROI - Return on Investment. If I am putting myself out there, what are we both getting in return? What are the risks involved? What if the deal doesn't close? I've invested before and ended up empty, so shouldn't I be used to this by now, and relatively unfazed?
No, we don't get used to it. We don't reach a point where we are unfazed by it. It feels like each time there is a fallout, it takes a little more out of us. Of course we may develop coping mechanisms little by little, and become better at dealing with the aftermath. But with each loss, even if I know it was the right step to take, it feels like a little part of my soul goes missing.
The safer method would be to sit on the sidelines of the race and not participate at all. Zero risk. We can spend our whole lives watching others and wishing that we could be more like them, longing for that to be our journey. Watching the fire without getting burned by the flame.
Wait. If we are talking logic and rationality, don't we also have to allow for the possibility of closing the deal, the possibility of winning the race. People close deals. People win races. People fall in love and stay together the rest of their lives and they can not imagine life without one another. It is not a bizarre concept. Maybe it is rare these days, but stranger things have happened.
So instead of the questions about what could go wrong, I wonder if instead we should be asking ourselves ...
What if this time we win?
Maybe this is our moment.
The real deal.
The forever one.
The reality is that there is no way of knowing unless we try. That means we have to shake hands on the deal and lace up for the race.
So if you need me, I'll be over here tying my shoes ... and then letting my scared-ass feet take on this journey one step at a time.