This is a question I've asked myself, mainly because I already know the answer: I can be.
It all began after a series of different meetings I had with my doc over a couple of months. During one of the earlier sessions he had said to me, "You're intense, and you need to be with someone who not only understands, but appreciates that in you." I listened.
Am I intense? I can be.
Fast forward a few months and at another session he said in passing, "I couldn't live with you."
It wasn't meant to hurt, or to be a barb, but it did. (And don't worry, there's no discussion of anything remotely unethical going on.) It hurt, because I found myself not measuring up to some random externalized standard that had absolutely nothing to do with me.
Of course, that's the truth of what happened, but in the moment I didn't have access to that absolute truth, I just knew that it stung a little. Subsequently, I found myself asking, "What's wrong with me?" and "Am I not livable?" Which ultimately evolved to "Am I not lovable?" And finally, the mac daddy of them all: "Am I destined to be alone?"
I suspect it took only about 5 seconds to go from his statement to the fear of being alone. It's a well-worn path that is very easily navigated. Almost effortlessly, in fact. But here's the beautiful thing: because I have done my work, because I have spent years forging through the dark tunnel and excavating the debris that was forming obstacles to my life, and because I have raised my awareness to the habit of negative self-talk, it took about another 5 seconds for me to access the truth behind his statement.
Just because HE couldn't live with me does not mean that NOBODY can.
And there it was. Truth. Absolute truth. And it allowed me to go even further, which was like flipping through the most wonderful album of memories and joy you've ever created. Once I acknowledged that his external measurement had nothing to do with my self-worth, I was able to explore why he might feel that way, and that's when it occurred to me: He only knows 30% of me. Perhaps more, maybe less, but 30% feels like a good number.
The fact is that he only knows that which I present to him, and since he's my doc, I present my problems. He's my "expert" for helping me sort through that which I cannot do alone. Therefore, it stands to reason that he couldn't live with me (and finds me intense), because he only knows that side of me. He knows the percentage that is seeking assistance or a safe place to vent. While I suspect he might have inklings of the other 70%, it has been a rare occasion when I have presented it to him.
This got me thinking: What IS the other 70%? Here's where that lovely virtual photo album of memories came into play. I suddenly found myself immersed in the joy of being me. It was decadent, blissful, and loving. It looked a bit like this:
He doesn't see me dancing in the rain, or laughing so hard that I fall off the bed.
He doesn't see me when I'm the image of bliss immersed up to my neck in a hot bubble bath, or how I get teary eyed during a commercial for animal rescue.
He doesn't see the me that giggles at sexual innuendos like a school girl, secretly hiding my wry smile because I actually know what's being talked about and the sheer pleasure it can bring.
He doesn't see me singing like a dork while I dance in my car to my favorite song.
He doesn't see me baking something for a friend that's hurt, or taking pictures of butterflies on my daily walk.
He doesn't see me when I'm so immersed in writing that hours can go by without my noticing it, and the smile on my face becomes semi-permanent.
He doesn't see me talk to strangers and offer them a smile, or as I hug my dog during one of his seizures late at night.
He doesn't see… me.
He doesn't see the me that I know. Which means: he doesn't know me. Well, not all of me.
He doesn't know all this, because he's not meant to. This is the breadth and depth of me, and it's still only a glimpse. He knows the me that needs his expertise and his help. The me that comes to him feeling broken or worn down by life, in search of a tincture of assistance and support. And that's the me he should be seeing, because it's the me that he knows in relation to himself.
I was then reminded of an old saying that I often share about how we go through life comparing our insides to other people's outsides. It will never match up. And this is true for almost everybody we come across in life. There are very few (if any) people that we share 100% of ourselves with. Every interaction falls somewhere on the spectrum from 1-99%, and I'd argue that most daily interactions fall somewhere between 1-35%.
People show us, and share with us, what they're comfortable with, and we receive and share in return what we're comfortable with. I would suspect that we are sharing about 30% of ourselves with the outside world at any given moment. And how we receive that is directly affected by our relationship to that person. That means that if I am your sibling, I will be receiving what you are showing very differently than if I were your boss, or your employee. We see and know people in relation to who we are to each other, and people only know what we choose to show them.
Which brings me back to the idea of being intense. I can be.
Actually, I think we all can be. And just as I can be intense, I can be light-hearted and soft. It's part of the full spectrum of who I am, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Then, just a few days ago, I read this piece by Kate Rose on Elephant Journal, and it summed up my notion of intensity so perfectly I wanted to share. Intensity is not something to be ashamed of or dialed down - it's something to be celebrated. And when it's admired and supported it can fuel almost anything, including (and especially) Love.