The Irony of Intimacy
I did not understand what irony meant for quite some time. It was just one of those words with one of those meanings that did not click for me. Here is a stellar example of that word: This is a piece on intimacy—my relationship with intimacy and it is a troubled one at that. It will be as intimate as it gets and I will be sharing it. I don’t know with who or how many it will be read by, but it will be read, and if it is read by just one, I know from experience that one can feel like one too many.
I will have sex, I’ll do it. I’ll let you touch me, fine. You’ll say “I want you” and to avoid admitting a desire I’m not entirely sure I even have, I’ll just kiss you and hope that satisfies. Of course, it does not. If we have hooked up a few times, eventually you’ll decide to be observant, “I’ve noticed you haven’t said you want this too” and naturally I’ll pull out the “I’m just so mysterious” card and become that much more illusive. You’ll fall in love a bit quicker and be completely oblivious to how violently uncomfortable I am. Once all is done, you’ll say something along the lines of “Did you like that? Couldn’t tell” In a sarcastic tone alluding to the affirmative sounds I made. Then I’ll hand you your medal and cookies and leap to the opposite side of the bed, couch, counter or whatever flavor of surface we chose that evening, as I savagely hunt for my sweatshirt and sweatpants. Notice how I did not say underwear because I’ll tell you right now, I kept them on and slid ‘em to the side. Why Chloe? Great question. I am insecure about my vagina and don’t want anyone getting a good look at it. I have no reason to be other than that girls and boys have said horrific things to me about it out of jealousy, shame, and overall obvious self loathing. While it had nothing to do with me or my vagina, it still penetrated me, and yet again, I didn’t ask for it.
My relationship with intimacy does not boil down to a single insecurity, event, or a desire I’m unwilling to admit I have. There are parts to us and underneath those parts there are more parts. My eating disorder and the etiology of eating disorders is a great example. My eating disorder is rooted in control and heavily masked by body image, which served its purpose for some time. I soon learned my eating disorder would infiltrate my intimate life. Here’s how: I do not just long to be special, to be relevant, but to be the most special, the most relevant, the most unforgettable there is. And there is something about existing in a body so fragile, you touch me and I bruise, that I am convinced makes me feel that way. Evidently, it is never enough. I have lived in that body, and of course, it was not enough. Throughout the day I will feel my ribs, the moment before my fingers make contact I am terrified and slightly hopeful—maybe today those little indentations will be there, those grooves. They felt like speed bumps on my chest and I couldn’t get enough of it. Eventually my fingers meet my chest and I feel a thicker layer of flesh and I don’t feel progress or health I feel let down, maybe even unloved. I used to imagine using my collarbones as extra pockets because they were so deep, now they are not much use. That bothers me. I keep as many layers on as I can during sex to where it isn’t a turn off, I design it to mystify and not pose question. Sometimes it does, pose question, but don’t fret, I carry a script around with me. My favorite is “we’re not there yet” and the confusion on their face is priceless. It reads, “I can enter you, literally come inside, but I can’t get a peak at your belly button?” So I’ll quickly just give ‘em the eyes and go in—lick or nibble on their ear and they’ll forget about it. It sounds like I don’t want them to pose question and that’s simply because that could very well be the worst moment for false vulnerability on my part dependent upon the person. I make that judgment early on and decide whether or not to disclose. It can either cause deep infatuation and curiosity, or discomfort on their part so it’s important I read them before. But sex is rare, I avoid it. I prefer to access my power without it. Power is important to me, it’s everything to me, and when it comes to boys it just seems to feel like one of the easiest ways to keep proving to myself just how much I have. I hate that. A lot of manipulation is involved and it isn’t conscious because I’m honest, well, I weaponize honesty, vulnerability, my story, life events, for versions of personal gain. When I am small, I feel I have permission to exist. This is odd to me because when I am small, I enjoy the physical sensation of taking up less space. In fact, I feel more comfortable being smothered in affection, physical and verbal, and am far less apt to rejecting it. I believe that in a smaller body I regress to a younger me; As a result of being sick, I revert back to an infantile state of being where being smothered feels like being coddled. It relieves any responsibilities the grown me would have in taking care of herself, so others feel compelled to chime in. The sicker I am, the safer I feel in an intimate setting, because I am seeing it through a set of younger eyes.
I get intimate with food, binge. Then I rid myself of it, purge. It’s a similar cycle with boys, with play, career—This is a cognitive distortion and it is called All-or-nothing thinking, and a lot of us do it. Balance is hard, really hard. In writing this, I visualized intimacy as an umbrella, I hadn’t seen it that way before. The amalgamation of “things” beneath that umbrella really just resembles life. Recently, in terms of all-or-nothing, I’m closer to nothing. I have not been too intimate with life as of late. I’ve wanted nothing to do with it. Ready for some real irony? I’m writing this from rehab. Intimacy is a topic so distant, I had to go as far as rehab to find it. And through a random writing assignment, I did just that. Granted, there’s still work to be done and I’m limited on computer privileges here, but this is a step, and a pretty good one if I do say so myself.
I am 23 years old, I don’t have a job, I have been to more therapy than I have college, I still live with my parents, and I have more reasons similar to those which you might find at the beginning of a “young 20 something year old girl finding herself” movie that would make you shut it off immediately. The difference is, this is real life and I am willing to tell you about all of mine. A lot can happen in 23 years and I hope to jam it all into a movie one day but for now I have the opportunity to provide snippets. Relatable, dark, funny, sad, all of the things. I want to be a mirror, or at least provide pieces here and there that might make someone feel less alone, including myself.