And I'm not a huge extrovert. I like people and human interaction, and I need silence and solitude at least as much. So my need for people is tempered by my need to be away from people.
Which is to say, ultimately, that I find intimacy complicated and confusing, and can never quite figure out how to be with someone when it doesn't feel, on some level, that it's at my own expense.
I wonder if others feel this way, or if this is some unique experience all of my own. Because there certainly are those of us who need and crave and require intimacy. Even when it is destructive and unhealthy and crazy-making.
My self-protective instinct is strong and kicking, more than just about anything else about me. I'm not sure that's great when it comes to forging connection, but it's great for feeling safe, if a little isolated.
I cannot look at the world without seeing the massive pain and suffering we inflict on each other, on ourselves, on the magnificent creatures of this planet and on the planet itself. I have never been able to avoid the outrage of the reality of human existence, and it pains me on the most personal level that I am part of this, and that I am also someone who creates pain for myself and others.
But it is the inescapable reality in which I live. Which I cannot reconcile easily with being open to love and trust and intimacy with the same human species that has used love and trust as weapons of mass destruction. I don't think I'm so special that I will be the lucky one to be loved and not hurt, adored never to suffer.
Are we just supposed to try and try again to love and trust, waiting for someone with enough strength of character to overcome the worst of humanity that lives in all of us? Is this the requirement of our age? To be hopeful when all evidence tells us of a reality that opposes hope?
There are more bridal-themed shows on TV than ever before, but no evidence linking a fantastic wedding to a happy marriage. Where is comfortable and content reality in the middle of this fantasy of relationships? I saw a match-making show. The match-maker said "love is not a game, but dating is, and you better learn to play the game."
What about those of us who don't like games of any kind? Where does that leave the question of connection and intimacy? Maybe it should be in the hands of family, friends and professionals, and we should stop letting our romantic hearts and emotions run away with us, certain that feelings are a real enough foundation to support an entire life that is far to heavy for that kind of support.
I have no answers. But I don't play games. I don't even like the People magazine crossword puzzle and I always know the answers to it. So I try to reconcile "Say Yes to the Dress" with the awful stories of abuse and violence I see in the news every day, but I don't think it's enough to find a happy little corner of the world and ignore the rest. I cannot ignore the pain, and I cannot stay immersed in it without it destroying my own ability to be of use.
So how close can I get and still feel safe? Still feel like there's hope? Still feel like things can be better? I have no answer to that question just yet.