What would you consider to be your most intimate relationship in life? Most of us have an answer ready to blurt out quickly, but it’s not as easy as it seems at first. When I started exploring this question with friends, most mentioned their relationship with their mother. I understood the choice immediately—she was the one who carried them in her womb, fed them with the resources of her body, wiped their bottoms, and bathed them. We all depended on our mothers for survival.
What about a wife or husband, since we choose to go through life with this one very special person? We have decided to make an emotional investment in a total stranger who becomes our closest companion for life. The marital relationship is based on commitment and trust, no matter what happens. That person will know the territory of our body like no other, see us elevated and also brought low by emotions—sometimes almost on the verge of madness—and they will still love us. We will be vulnerable and dependent on them when ill (“in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part”), but we’ll also be there to share in and celebrate their great successes.
Many of us consider having a long-term friend an intimate relationship. Someone close to us who knows us “the best.” This is usually someone we grew up with, who was with us through good times as well as bad times and witnessed all the ups and downs. Someone we’ve told our secrets to, confiding in them and revealing our deepest or most ridiculous ideas and dreams. Things we wouldn’t tell our parents or spouses. We’ve shared good laughs with them as well as serious cries.
Therapists become an intimate figure for many people, since they help us understand ourselves better and how we get stuck emotionally in patterns from the past. If we experience trauma, we open ourselves to them to help us heal. We use them as professionals who will never judge or betray our trust when we reveal our most uncomfortable truths. A few carefully chosen words from them can keep us rational and sane.
Throughout our lives we’ll experience many relationships, but the most intimate of all is with our own body. Why did no one mention this, when it’s literally the closest relationship we’ll ever have? I see how many people abandon their body to have a primary relationship with someone else, molding their form into something that’s pleasing and accepted by others. This is unsustainable. If you cannot have a good relationship with your own body you cannot have a good relationship with anyone. What kind of relationship do you have?
Would your body say that you’re a good steward?