1) Introduce yourself! What’s your name and where are you from? Share anything you like about your own intimacy journey.
Hi all. My name is Tara and I live in NYC. Intimacy journey – I have some issues with self esteem and can have often sought external validation through men. I lost my virginity in high school to someone I was attracted to, but whom I didn’t know well and that I chose for that reason. He never spoke to me thereafter. In my 20s I was largely engaged in spiritual seeking that culminated in my converting to another religion. So during my early 20s I wasn’t very focused on men (I had a few short-lived relationships where I was more interested in sexual exploration than in making intimate connections). The later half of my 20s I was celibate for religious reasons. Young 30s I married someone, with reservations and whom I didn’t love. The marriage became emotionally abusive and I left for that reason (with 2 small children). (I am still in therapy dealing with some of the aftermath of my marriage.) After leaving my marriage, I shut down from any sort of connecting with men. But after about two years I became very thirsty for 1) sexual companionship, and 2) intimacy. I became pretty promiscuous (that’s not the word I would typically use, but I guess it applies) and was doing a lot of sexual exploration (bdsm, etc.). Really, I was really seeking intimacy through sex, though. I had some important experiences/relationships during that time. Then, finally, I guess I had healed enough that I thought I was ready to experience some actually intimacy with men. My self esteem had improved enough that I saw myself as worthy and valuable and something to offer. But, fwiw, I still deal with these themes and issues pretty much all the time. My most recent relationship was about a year and a half or more, but I left that relationship because I felt he wasn’t the right man. We were also completely mismatched sexually, which was apparent from the very beginning. However, I stuck it out trying to prove to myself that if other aspects of the relationship worked well, that one thing shouldn’t kill it. I don’t think I would allow that play out that way in future relationships. I’m now 41.
2)Are you beginning to get a basic sense of what some of your own core gifts may be? What are you seeing?
Yes, so far I have identified two core gifts: spirituality (which is kinda over-arching and could probably be broken down into smaller components) and empathy/empathic nature. These were both ridiculously obvious during the “tears” exercise.
3) Do you have any reflections about the Core Gifts exercises we did in class, or your new exercises from last week (The exercises around joy and your Core Gifts)? Do you have any questions?
I found that it was super difficult for me to identify when I was experiencing joy. I could think of instances from my past, but to actually identify joyfulness on a daily basis seemed so far removed from how I “roll.” lol My learning buddy mentioned she uses a gratitude journal and I thought that might be a practice I could incorporate (though haven’t done that yet). Also a work colleague mentioned that she is doing these happiness surveys that come via her phone (see http://www.trackyourhappiness.org/). It’s some sort of research study… I think you need an iphone to participate, though. I haven’t explored their site yet.
I also emailed Ken abt an issue I was having during the 5 min prayer/intention because I kept visualizing a particular man that I had recently met and had a lot of attraction toward (and had been physically intimate with). I was seeking ideas about how to clear my mind of him so that I would not be limiting.
4)What are you most noticing in your life as a result of these ideas, or simply as a result of your own experiences in your dating life?
Grrrrrr…. well, about the above mentioned guy that was showing up in my thoughts. Unfortunately, it seems my interest/feelings in him are greater than his in me. We’ve had a few open conversations about what is going on with us. I don’t feel he is a player. Feel he is trying to be open and honest, just not feeling a lifetime relationship or LTR with me (perhaps a different woman, but not me). Still there’s strong chemistry and sexual attraction, though, and budding friendship, and am very comfortable with him. I’m not seeking exclusivity from him, but am feeling I would like to see him more because I want to know him more. Anyhow…. my girlfriends seem to think that in this type of situation I should just exit because it was not what I was originally seeking with him, I am not ready to do that yet. I feel a connection. I don’t feel devalued because we have discussed our evolving feelings (a friend said I was “selling myself short” to stay in contact with him.) While the relationship may turn out to be primarily sexual in focus, it is not devoid of emotional intimacy. In fact, it feels quite intimate. So, for the time being I am just exploring what the connection will be, even if it is not quite what I had hoped. I feel that my self esteem is improved enough these days that I wouldn’t hang on if I felt devalued by the experiences with him. I feel that the gift of being spiritual and feeling a “connectedness” with others is what causes me to be open to different types of relationships, but I can recognize how that in the past I have used sexual relationships for the feelings of pseudo-intimacy that can be created (and that that, perhaps, is a dark side to that gift). Anyhow, I feel like I am being pretty authentic in this particular situation with the guy.
5) Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I always think back to the issue of “boundaries” (ppl like to throw that word around a lot in regard to relationships). I have had ppl say to me that they think I have “boundary issues.” While it is probably true, I am actually not so sure that it is terrible to have flexible boundaries. Shouldn’t boundaries being evolving? Shouldn’t we be open to adjusting boundaries in different situations?? (lol, situational boundaries?) I think a boundary is not where you “say” it is, but where you “feel” it, and sometimes that changes.
Sorry if I wrote too much. I’m always a little uncertain about what is an appropriate amount of disclosure.