The Fear of Getting One’s Teeth Kicked In
This month, I had another session with my client Dean, someone who I’ve mentioned a couple times before. Dean was doing pretty well. He seemed to have taken my advice, which was to recognize the potential that he carried with him at all times. In fact, he’d gained such confidence in himself that he’d caught the eye of a lucky lady and had been in that new relationship for a few weeks. I gotta say, that girl is fortunate to have a guy like Dean in her life, and likewise, Dean is fortunate to have someone like me in his life.
That’s not to say that Dean had eliminated all his hang-ups. You see, the memory of getting dumped still seemed to pop up from time to time. Dean wanted to move past it. In fact, the worry that he wasn’t healing fast enough was foremost in his mind. “I want to be everything I can be in this new relationship,” he said, “but I think I still have some fears of intimacy.”
I shook my head. “Dean, you’re not afraid of intimacy,” I said.
He frowned at me. “I’m not?” he said.
“Well no,” I said. “You’re afraid of getting your teeth kicked in.”
“I don’t think I understand, Dr. Matt,” he said.
“Well, yes you do,” I said, “but you think you don’t. You’re a pretty clever guy, Dean. And so you think you have things figured out, especially about yourself. In fact, you think you’ve even figured out what it is you haven’t figured out yet. But in this case, you’re kind of an idiot.”
“I’m an idiot?” Dean asked me, a little stunned.
“Well, yes,” I said. “You say you’re afraid of intimacy, but that’s just stupid. Whoever heard of intimacy being dangerous?”
“But, can’t you get hurt?” he asked me.
“Well, sure,” I said, “but in my experience, that’s caused by human wackiness. It’s not a by-product of intimacy. Intimacy is the willingness to connect with another person. And you’re doing it. You’re willing to connect, to be present with another person even though it scares the bejesus out of you. Let me tell you, Dean, I talk to a number of men, and to even have the wherewithal to say that you struggle with intimacy puts you light years ahead of most men in the intimacy department.”
“So…” he said slowly, thinking this over, “she’s not getting less of me if a fear pops up?”
“Are you kidding?” I said. “Are you seriously asking me if having a human experience means that you’re less of a human? Are you suggesting to me that to experience your full range of emotions makes you present a less full representation of yourself?”
He frowned. “When you put it that way, that does sound kind of stupid.”
I shrugged. “Well, I’m glad you said it and not me, Dean, because I get kind of tired of saying it. The only thing that’s going to keep you from connecting is you, which you do when you think that there’s less of you present to offer. So I say, if this is a girl that you want to share an experience of intimacy with, then share it, all of it, from when you’re feeling on top of the world to when you’re feeling under it. Don’t hide those beautiful flaws.”
Dean raised one eyebrow. “You think my flaws are beautiful?” he asked.
I suddenly realized our time was up, so I sent Dean out the door. Besides, I needed to call Midgie back, since she’d left a voicemail message earlier that day. When I called her, I told her that I needed to stay in that night and work on my new book, because I was writing about intimacy and I was stuck on what to say about it. What was frustrating was that I didn’t make much progress on that chapter that night, but hopefully someday soon I can come up with something to say.
Just My Thoughts,
* Dr. Matt is not a real doctor.