The Myth of Authenticity (and the Truth About Intimacy)

I am a travel addict. I can see it now. And I can see how all the travel has been a way to escape true intimacy at some level.

(Written on Sep 28, 2016)

This past Thursday, after committing to being home in Boulder this weekend and to speaking at the Integral Center, Friday night, I almost canceled last minute and flew to Ojai instead.

As I felt into my weekend and the possibility of sitting in the fire of a couple challenging relationship connections here in Boulder, I had about a one hour freak out, during which I was sure I needed to leave for the weekend after all, looking up flights, booking a rental car, and checking in to see if I could get to the Evolutionary Priestess retreat late.

I was sure that the answer was to run to the arms of sisters who I knew would hold and comfort me.

I ended up talking myself down and decided to stay. One day at a time.

There is something deeper for me here, being with myself, sitting in the fire.

As Josh Zemel shares about the Myth of Authenticity (and the Truth About Intimacy) at the Integral Center’s Relational Leadership Summit, I am reminded why I am taking on this new practice of staying home.

In his talk, Josh references the story of the man who wrote Into the Wild, and ended up dying alone in the Alaskan Wilderness, after going from community to community looking for IT only to find himself on the edge of death (and ultimately dying) realizing he had, in fact, missed it.

Many people know me out in the world as an authentic, truth-teller. And while that’s true. Josh’s talk reminds me that authenticity is one level and intimacy is a whole other.

What I have been exploring the past year, and now I am bringing home to roost, is that authenticity can often be used as a substitute for intimacy, especially for those of us that are terrified of intimacy.

If you have read Glennon Doyle Melton’s new book Love, Warrior, you can see an example of this in living color through her life story.

Glennon finds intimacy with millions by authentically sharing herself online while at the same time missing out on a much deeper intimacy at home.

I haven’t gotten to the end of the book yet so can’t say yet if this shifts for her or if she becomes aware of it, but oh I can see myself in it.

True intimacy is terrifying. It’s messy. It can hurt so much to be so close and then to feel rejected, or wronged, or misunderstood.

So I would travel to minimize the impact of those experiences on myself and others. This wasn’t conscious, but I can see it now.

I can see now that when I did get close, I often would end up feeling I did something wrong , either due to my own lack of cultivated sensitivity for other or due to my heightened sensitivity of self.

Rather than facing all that, it was way more palatable to my system to briefly drop in, reveal and show some part of myself (whether through travel or by blogging or posting online) and then get out again, not really fully feeling the impact I have on other people and they on me.

And I’m beginning to get a glimpse that all the travel these years has been a protection mechanism of some sort that I don’t fully understand yet.

The travel was necessary. The people who I traveled to see cracked me open and then held me in my awkward awakening. I am beyond grateful for their love. And care. And understanding.

And now, it’s time to push my edge into staying here (not forever, I’ll most certainly be on the road again) and being present to discover what I’ve been avoiding feeling.

Thanks Josh for reminding me that authenticity is one step on the path to intimacy, but it’s not the end of the road. Time to go deeper.

If you would love a life that includes the freedom to travel, when it helps you to deepen intimacy, not escape it, you may want to realign your life and your income for the freedom you truly desire. Start here with my Money Map Life and Income Planning Series and come into right relationship with time, money and how you get paid.

Leave a Reply