Intimacy and Rumi
About six years ago I was living with my friend Claire and we were really into Rumi poetry. We would read the poems at night while massaging each other’s hands. It was pretty sweet. My favourite Rumi poem was: Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language even the phrase each other doesn’t make sense.
To be honest, I didn’t really know what it meant but I felt something in it that I really liked. It felt deep and close and real and like truth. I stuck it on my desk at work and on my wall at home. And then I moved, left my job and completely forgot all about it, until this week.
Do you ever feel like a bit of a robot? And your humanness can almost be a bit surprising? I don’t know exactly what I mean by that but sometimes it’s hard to switch out of automaton, militant mode and really feel and really connect with yourself and others as imperfect, human beings. So I have been in Barbados for seven days now and for the first two days, in my head, over and over was: “must relax, must get a tan, but must not get burnt, must relax, must stretch, must sleep, must meditate, must still my mind, must let go of distractions, must relax, must slow down, must have fun, must relax, must have token cocktail, but must, must not overdo it and I really must relax.” On and on and on. For what was supposed to be holiday time it was pretty bloody stressful. Especially when I screwed it all up and got badly sun burned the first day I got here and spent a good few hours not meditating, stretching or stilling my mind but actually watching Keeping up with the Kardashians and then spending the next few hours feeling angry at myself for it. Sounds like fun, right?
Then my friends arrived and it actually felt safe to relax, to let go of the neurotic thought patterns and all of the pressure and really just be on holiday with them. I worry that this is a bad thing. Shouldn’t I be strong or independent enough to be ok on my own? I think I pride myself on being self-sufficient and able to (sort of) amuse myself and so sometimes I can forget that I am human and do need others too. Because, believe it or not, human contact, connection, intimacy, relationships, support are what we all fundamentally need. I think deep down, under all the fear and defensiveness, it’s also what we all fundamentally want. I’m sorry if this is sounding really obvious to you. I think some people inherently understand intimacy and closeness and it being ok to need support. I am not one of those people.
So what I am learning is that friendships or any close relationships require intimacy. And intimacy is a word that I find hard to think or say without giggling, but it’s actually really important and the willingness to go there and be honest with yourself about wanting it, is actually sort of serious. It’s vulnerable and scary and incredibly raw. Intimacy is not just about what I need or what I can give. And that is actually where I can get stuck. Because I can sort of pretty much work out what I need and I am happy to give basically anything to support someone else. But that’s not really the point, because it’s not just about me. It can be harder to work out exactly what someone else needs and it can be really hard to authentically allow someone else to support me.
Assumptions and defences get in the way. I know that I misconstrue things left, right and centre and I go off in my head thinking this person is judging me for this or that or they are secretly thinking all these bad things about me. I think we all have our own words but for me I always believe people secretly think I’m an idiot or stupid or pathetic. It is so hard to admit it but a lot of the time, what I need when I am not feeling good, is for friends to tell me once again they don’t think I’m an idiot or foolish or they aren’t angry at me, that they love me, that they are there with me, that they know things are hard and that it’s ok. This is something that we really can’t give ourselves and really can ask from others.
We make assumptions too about other people’s needs and don’t realise or see that they might really need our reassurance, or words of love or encouragement or support. We all need to know, as many times as it takes, that we are loved and that someone thinks we are strong and brave and even cool and that you like them, that you want to be close to them, and that you are there for them. Sometimes all of that stuff can feel so obvious, and therefore unnecessary. But the actual saying, out loud, face to face (or ear to ear if needs be) means something, is precious, should not be overlooked.
I don’t know why I thought of that poem again. I did some healing sessions with my friends and in both I felt like we went to another place. A calm, safe, light place where there was no difference between them and me. There were no worries or fears and there’s nothing to say because everything has been said. Or maybe because it’s already inherently known, there’s no need. In this place we are all one, all the same and all ok. I do believe that such a place exists, maybe we even get to go after we die. And maybe it’s true we can feel it here too and get some comfort from knowing it’s there.
I think I used to love the poem so much because, at that time 6 or more years ago, I felt like I couldn’t say anything. I wanted the people closest to me to really know how I felt but I didn’t have words to tell them. I wanted to tell them that we are the same. That I felt just as scared and unsure as they did but couldn’t get it out. I wanted to be close to them, be really honest and open with them, but had no idea how to, what it would take. I wanted to let them support me. I wanted to completely break apart in front of them but didn’t know how. This field in the poem felt like where I wanted to be, beyond the earth, where nothing mattered, where nothing got in the way. Where we could be together and finally understand that love existed and that we were all actually ok and that there was never anything wrong with any of us.
But I don’t know if I want or need to go there as much anymore. Because I think I can see that there’s a reason that we’re all here, on this earth, sharing this ground. That all the stuff that makes up this existence does matter. That it’s important to find ways and learn how to really connect here, even with all our ideas and judgements, assumptions and fears and defensiveness. That closeness here is what we want. It’s probably even the most important thing, which leads to getting everything else that we want. That words are important. There are things to talk about. Stuff we really do need to say to each other. And it’s not weak to need love, support or a bit of reassurance from someone else and it really doesn’t cost you anything to give it. And even though it’s scary and so bloody brave to be open and vulnerable with someone else, it’s worth trying and failing and then trying all over again.
Amanda, Danny, thank you for letting me keep trying.