The simplest and most understandable way I have ever heard intimacy described is by breaking the word down: in to me see. That is what intimacy is about - allowing another person to see into us, sharing who we are with another person.
Sharing who we are is a problem because at the core of our relationship with ourselves is the feeling that we are somehow defective, unlovable and unworthy. That programming is a defense that the ego adapted to help us survive. It is based upon the feeling that we are shameful, that we are defective, unworthy, and unlovable. Our defense system is an attempt to protect us from being rejected, betrayed, and abandoned because of our unworthy, shameful being.
We have a fear of intimacy because we were wounded, emotionally traumatized, - felt rejected and abandoned - and then grew up in emotional dishonest societies that did not provide tools for healing, or healthy role models to show us how to overcome that fear. Our wounding caused us to feel that something was wrong with our being - toxic shame - and our false role models taught us to keep up appearances, to hide our shamefulness from others.
This is doubly traumatic. We were traumatized - and the defenses we adapted to protect us caused us to traumatize ourselves. We have experienced getting our hearts broken, our hopes and dreams shattered, again and again. We abandoned, betrayed, and set ourselves up to feel rejected over and over again .
As long as we are reacting unconsciously to our emotional wounds and intellectual programming, we keep repeating the patterns. We keep getting involved with unavailable people. We keep setting ourselves up to be abandoned, betrayed and rejected. We keep looking for love in all the wrong places, in all the wrong faces. Is it any wonder we have a fear of intimacy?
We do not need fixing. We are not broken. Our sense of self, our self perception, was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces, not our True Self. We are not broken. That is what toxic shame is - thinking that we are broken, believing that we are somehow inherently defective.
At the foundation of our relationship with our self - and therefore with other people and life - is the feeling that we will die if we reveal ourselves to other people, because then they will see our shameful self. We feel deep within us (in those rare instances of breaking through denial), that if we let anyone see who we really are, they would run away screaming in horror at the grotesque, deformed, shameful being that we are.
Our lives have been dictated by an emotional defense system that is designed to keep hidden the false belief that we are defective. We use external things - success, looks, productivity, substances - to try to cover up, overcome, make up for, the personal defectiveness that we felt caused our hearts to be broken and our souls wounded.
That personal defectiveness is a lie. That feeling of toxic shame is a lie.
We have a fear of intimacy for very good reasons. We have a lifetime of experiences that reinforce the original messages - that reinforces our feeling of being terrified of letting anyone get too close to us, see into us.
We can intellectually throw out false beliefs. We can intellectually remember and embrace the Truth of Oneness and Light and Love. But we cannot integrate it into our day-to-day human existence, in a way which allows us to substantially change the dysfunctional behavior patterns that we had to adopt to survive, until we deal with our emotional wounds. Until we deal with the subconscious emotional programming. Until we are willing to face the pain inside, feel it and release it to the point it will not return.
We cannot learn to Love without honoring our Rage. We cannot allow ourselves to be Truly Intimate with ourselves or anyone else without owning our Grief. We cannot clearly reconnect with the Light unless we are willing to own and honor our experience of the Darkness. We cannot fully feel the Joy unless we are willing to feel the Sadness. This is the curse and blessing of this wonderful process called Recovery - the curse is temporary, and the blessing is for the rest of the life.
Robert Burney, freely cited.