**** I feel like I need a disclaimer that I don’t typically write these blogs about any one person or one experience. It’s a collection of life and things I’ve observed. End of disclaimer. ****
Intimacy is a funny thing, no? The ebb and flow of relationships, seasons, friendships, families is always fascinating to me.
I read through journals from college the other night and I was struck by the names of people who were so important to me at the time. I prayed for them by name. I was hurt by things they said or did. I was convinced certain relationships were going to end certain ways.
Where does intimacy go when it doesn’t exist any more? What happens to our hearts when the person or people with who we shared all of who we are no longer exist in our day to day lives or even in the outer fringes of our lives? Can we still consider ourselves intimate with people who no longer know the cereal we choose in the morning or the routine we have when we go to bed?
How does the change from intimacy to strangers happen? For me, it’s happened at times almost over night. One day a person was in my life and knew the in’s and out’s. The next day it was an unanswered phone call or a non-responsive text. Usually nothing too concerning.
But then, the one phone calls or the single texts grow in increments. It’s becomes two or three, and then a day has gone by, maybe several. Before you know, it’s a week and you have no idea where this person is or what happened. It can be incredibly frustrating and leave you reeling.
Eventually you wake up and realize it’s been months since this person has been part of your life. Where you once imagined you would be part of their moments and they would be part of yours, you now realize that you didn’t even know they were pregnant again. Or that they finally achieved their dream job.
At some point you hope the unresolved becomes resolved. Even if you’re never close the way you were, you long to tie up the loose ends and at least be given a chance at a goodbye. Unfortunately we don’t always get that. But when we do, it can be incredibly healing.
I was talking to a few people about this idea and my brilliant roommate Katie pointed out that intimacy is something that is intentional. When you stop being intentional in someone’s life, you lose intimacy with them. You choose to lose intimacy.
Sometimes it’s stages of life. You move away from home to go to college and lose touch with your best friends from high school. You take a job in another city and your community continues on without you. You get married and have kids and their friends’ parents become part of your life. While there is sadness is these places, it can feel natural. It feels like an evolution of life. You’re not who you were in high school so you’ve found new people who are at the same stage of life.
But other times it is the unexpected severing of ties. You break up with your girlfriend. Your best guy friend starts dating someone and you’re no longer needed. You lose your job and don’t see your coworkers anymore. You realize you’re waking up next to a stranger and you’re dangerously close to filing for divorce.
Regardless of how it ends, it hurts. The slow loss of intimacy rips at the soul. And I’m not just talking about intimacy between lovers. I’m talking about the shared connection between two people. Some of my deepest relational pain has come from a loss of intimacy between myself and my friends. Things ended suddenly and I had idea why. One day they were in my life for lunches and coffee and road trips and the next they were gone. Leaving only traces of their life in mine through funny pictures and old text messages and memories that burned in my brain.
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was overBut you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know