How do you experience intimacy?

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
This is a thread to explore what intimacy means to you. And learn about what it means to others.

Some questions to prompt… How do you experience intimacy? What does it look like and feel like? Whether with friends, a partner, children, anyone? And how does it relate to your PTSD? And How has your experience of intimacy changed through your life and your recovery?
 

Teasel

Not Active
Great thread. It’s something I desperately want (not talking sex) but in some circumstances it is unbearable and frightening.

Like a blinding light that exposes, rabbit in headlights kind of thing
Other times it’s the best thing ever. Makes everything completely joyful, like being in love, wonderful.
Can be like an old faithful dog too :)

Look forward to seeing what others have to say.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
To me at the moment, intimacy is having good personal honest conversation. With anyone! I don't think about sex really much (occasionally).
I used to be pretty much Mute and all my thoughts and feelings were just bottled up so I find just talking to people exhilarating. In that sense I'm a very late developer. That's partly why I used to drink so much. It got me talking but ultimately was a bad thing. Glad that I have new friends to talk to via my mental health group.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I think intimacy for me happens in all sorts of ways in all sorts of relationships.
I was thinking that it happens in a way with people I manage or other work relationships. I feel it happened twice today when two staff members phoned me for support, opening up about their feelings on the work. And we acknowledged it and spoke about it. That felt intimate in a professional relationship. So it had that staff member showing their vulnerability , and us sharing that space together to help?
And I think it is a similar thing with T? (With me being the vulnerable one there...)

And friendships, intimacy comes with sharing and just being?

Family? No idea really.

Sex for me doesn't equate intimacy. Never did. Am learning that I think. But with my partner: laughing. Just knowing what they are feeling. Sharing an experience. Some form of touch. Lots of little things?

Idk.
 

JGirl

Confident
To me, intimacy means being vulnerable.
It happens when you or someone else shares thoughts or feelings that would not be shared with just anyone.
It can be physical- by allowing someone to be close enough for a hug, or some kind of contact.
It can be sexual- but not all sex is intimate. Sex is intimate when it involves feelings and is not just about pleasure.

I find intimacy very hard during times that I am triggered. I tend to shut people out and isolate myself. In general, I push my husband away a lot. It is much easier when I am doing well. I find that I just don't want any kind of intimacy when I am struggling a little, and I crave it for comfort but reject it when I am struggling a lot.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
This is a thread to explore what intimacy means to you. And learn about what it means to others.

Some questions to prompt… How do you experience intimacy? What does it look like and feel like? Whether with friends, a partner, children, anyone? And how does it relate to your PTSD? And How has your experience of intimacy changed through your life and your recovery?

I think I am more than averagely able to be candid about my emotions - when I feel them - but in a way that makes sharing some types of disclosure less intimate… lack of containment or over frankness can build walls or be overwhelming.

I think intimacy for me is being able to hold the ugliest parts of each other with as much tenderness as the most beautiful parts. That will of course be relative to the relationship- a child for example should never be able to handle our deepest Shames or most dubious endeavours or harrowing regrets , but could understand we are fallible and that that’s ok !



and I’m talking about emotion and experiences NOT behaviour fwiw.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you! I want to respond to everyone because this topic is so rich!
Like a blinding light that exposes, rabbit in headlights kind of thing
Other times it’s the best thing ever. Makes everything completely joyful, like being in love, wonderful.
Can be like an old faithful dog too :)
It’s interesting to me that you include uncomfortable feelings (being exposed)— I hadn’t considered the range of feelings associated with being intimate. And love, yes love, I must admit I have felt that feeling. Old faithful dog sounds so comforting, I know that feeling—like when I visited my grandma months before she died and she was so weak—there was a sense of intimacy.
I used to be pretty much Mute and all my thoughts and feelings were just bottled up so I find just talking to people exhilarating.
That is a beautiful development!
Sometimes too intimacy is awkward, like stepping on someone’s toes when you’re trying to dance
This is very interesting to me as I hadn’t considered the uncomfortable feelings which might be associated with intimacy. In my mind if the uncomfortable feeling isn’t followed by a soothing one, then it’s just embarrassing—the soothing feelings would be what makes it intimate, to me.
sharing and just being?
I can see that. Reminds me of what @Survivor3 said about just having an emotionally honest conversation.

reject it when I am struggling a lot.
I’m glad you brought this up. Reminds me of how my daughter says she doesn’t want me to encourage her or try to make her laugh when she’s mad at me. I know when I’m struggling I want to hide from T and my children.
lack of containment or over frankness can build walls or be overwhelming.
🤯 Wow! Hadn’t thought of this! So true! There has to be a containment on each person’s part. I remember when I was in college and had a boyfriend I was crazy about. We took ecstasy together and he was so into me and I remember feeling overwhelmed by his attention because he had no containment.

It really helps thinking about your responses. I think for me I feel intimate when someone shares their feelings. That’s my beginning to understanding.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I was having trouble with accidentally erasing the quotes while responding. I had already posted and then suddenly I had a random sense that I accidentally erased @Freida ‘s quote and I checked and was right. And @somerandomguy ’s quote got deleted too.

My abuse left me with thinking that intimacy = sex and sex = intimacy. But as I've healed I've increasingly realized that it's not true. There are many ways to be intimate. Unfortunately almost all of them are still pretty difficult for me, but things are slowly getting better.
I like how you noticed the development in your thoughts. I’m curious about what ways to be intimate that you are aware of but find difficult.
Letting someone see me cry.
Because for me true intimacy is all about trust and safety
I appreciate you connecting crying with trust and safety. In my experience crying can be used to manipulate (my mom did this sometimes). So I judge myself when I cry sometimes. For the most part, I don’t judge myself in front of T, which gives me experience in believing myself while crying. To me, believing in myself is intimate.

When you say letting someone see you cry, are you imagining a specific reason you are crying? In my mind I imagine you are crying for yourself, but I realize there are many reasons…

What triggered me suspecting I hadn’t responded? I had an intrusive thought. Been having a few today. Which means self hatred or SI. And I thought of talking to you all here immediately upon having the thought. And I knew I left something hanging! And maybe that’s a kind of intimacy. A desire to stay connected and keep asking for help and keep holding space and keep encouraging. It’s a level of intimacy. Which I appreciate. And I’m also trying to figure it out face to face with people.
 

Sues

MyPTSD Pro
When I first hear the word intimacy, I immediately think of sex. That terrifies me, but so does trusting anyone for emotional intimacy. I think of the emotional part after the initial thought of sex. Both are bad for me and triggers.

I isolate a lot. I have one friend that I trust and speak to and my therapist. That's it. I'm still too "messed up" from so many years of abuse that any vulnerability is scary and feels so unsafe and beyond what I can do. I don't let anyone too close. I don't let anyone in. I don't ever want to be in a relationship with anyone else ever again.
 
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