This is a pretty broad subject, and one that crosses over in some ways with a Love, but I'll try and do it justice here.
Most people tend to need intimacy. Now in my case, emotional, physical, and intellectual intimacy are often, not always, interchangeable with one another. A really good intellectual conversation is as good as sex. A frank and open discussion of sex and sexuality is as intimate as cuddling all night. Being held by and/or holding the right person is as important to me as telling someone how much I care. Being naked around one another and talking about intellectual or personal issues beats most things in my book, unless we are comfortable enough with each other to cuddle or do more. Someone talking passionately about something important to them, giving me the chance to see the light in their eyes, well it's rare the physical compares, though a truly sparkling mind is the best aphrodisiac in the world.
Many people I find utterly desirable, I want to shag them rotten (or with preference, very well, so they come back for more *wicked grin*), but if the reality became possible, I would rather talk with most of them than have sex with them, because for all sorts of reasons I would find the talking more likely to satisfy my need for closeness and intimacy.
What I hate is how much I need this intimacy.
For me it is a constant. I always need emotional, intellectual and physical closeness, a sharing of minds and bodies. And I seldom get it at the levels or in the ways I require. It's one of the reasons I lean more towards Hermit Danny than Social Danny. Wandering out amongst people gives me a portion of what I need, but often it's not enough. I actually find it much, much easier to cut myself off from people altogether. If I stay away from people, I don't find the lack of intimacy crushing me down the way it so often does. Plus I'm terrible at staying in contact with people anyway, so it works as a kind of default.
That need is one of the driving forces behind my constant feelings of grief and loneliness, one of the things that my depression grabs onto with both hands. And the ways I can deal with it effectively are binary. Lots of deep contact, or none. Almost anything else leaves me like an open wound.
Which is ridiculous. I am a pretty strong and self-sufficient person in so many areas. I'm smart, well-liked, have tonnes of love and strength to give, am happy to make time for the vast majority of people, I love my friends deeply, and the people beyond that with all my heart. That some of the people whom I love strongly care for me as only a friend, and may be unaware of how far down my feelings go, doesn't upset me - if I'm in their lives just a little, see or communicate with them once in 18 months, that's enough. So long as they are doing well, I'm genuinely happy with that, and even the most fleeting contact will keep me happy, all the way down to an LJ comment.
But that lack of intimacy is what fills me with constant pain and grief. And it comes from all sides, from acquaintances to lovers. Most people don't seek to touch or be touched as deeply or often as I do. So I feel a constant sense of loss for what could be, for what I'd wish for, for what I'd like to give, and for what I need. It's a solid drive to be closer to people. Most folks only want surface contact - polite conversations, brief hugs, no talk of their private life, no talk of emotions. That for me is like a life eating nothing but dry biscuits when you know, over in the cupboard, are all the foods the Gods put on this planet to make life worth living - like nachoes and garlic pizza.
Contact with people often drains me, as I give so much of myself over to them. Light contact does little to recharge me. That's not always the case, a good bullshitty talk with Mitch or Mondy does wonders, but not many people are like them, mores the pity.
One of the reasons I don't offer massages though I'm qualified in relaxation massage is that it wipes me out... well that and lots of really sleazy types in fandom are way too quick to offer massages. But when learning massage, two of the things I was taught was to make sure you were calm and relaxed, otherwise you could pass on your stress, and to be aware of the energy flow, because if you don't balance it, you'll get drained. I'm crap with balancing energy. I don't really want to create a wall between myself and the person I'm working on.
And yes, I know it all sounds new-agey crap. I still think it's new-agey crap but when you're actually doing it properly, you quickly learn that this new-agey crap seems to be experienced by most masseurs.
In a room full of friends and lovers, often the best I can do is keep myself distracted. Which sounds more dismissive and horrible than it really is. I actively enjoy the time with these people, and they still give me a greater depth of contact than I'd get from most others. It's not at all like I don't enjoy talking to them, like they don't make me smile and laugh, like they don't delight me in many different ways. If it were that bad, I wouldn't bother to go to things at all, though it must be admitted, I do often need a little push. Nor do I expect them to provide the depth I need, because the depth I need is an insanely unrealistic amount for most people to even consider.
It's one of the things that I get from Kali. There is a reasonably constant depth there on all levels. When she is talking to me on most subjects, holding me, we're making love, or shagging like rabbits, it's rare that it's only surface. In that respect she's spoiled me. On the other hand, it's given me an insight into why some people are blown away by how much love and energy I put into them. She's the only other person I've met that puts so much into the people she's with at the time. It's rare that people are so willing and able to give of themselves. I do it so easily, I forget how rare it is, which is particularly funny given I crave it so much.
Sharon has no interest in sex, as has been talked about, but she's happy with cuddles. However, in a cruel twist of fate, she also gives off huge amounts of body heat which mean that, on all but the coldest nights, I can't stay snuggled up with her for long otherwise I overheat. So I find myself constantly wanting her to express opinions and have intellectual/theoretical conversations to make up for the areas that can't be filled. So while I've never been particularly demanding of sex with her, I am in need of her gorgeous brain to engage me on more than the superficial, and I push for that.
I have times when I'm alone where the grief and pain is still constant enough that my entire day can become about keeping it at bay, or staying distracted, lest I get lost in pain and depression. When the need for intimacy is at its height, say three or four times a year, the thing I find most acutely painful is sex scenes in films or tv. To watch other folks being so close causes me genuine emotional pain. Not because of the sex, otherwise I could never watch porn, but because of the perceived intimacy.
Even when I'm just being a lascivious, horny bastard that wants to screw the nearest female, there will be a depth of intimacy that it needs to fulfill, which is why I'm picky with sexual partners - the wrong people will leave me even more lonely and empty. And all I see in those moments on film are people experiencing the closeness that is as constant a need for me as air, food, light, while I'm alone.
I've often described myself as more animal than human, in a half-joking sort of way. Apart from my habit of taking in people's scents, my 'scruffy-dog' look, and cleaning myself in the loungeroom when we have visitors, that need for touch is paramount. If you've ever watched the wildlife docos, or had a number of pets, most groupings of animals maintain a certain level of physical social interaction. Sleeping close to one another, grooming one another, nuzzling close, playing. I identify with that, because that's the level of interaction I crave.
One of the reasons I miss my father so much is that we shared that.
From when I was a small child, dad and I were close. And one of the constants was physical intimacy. Dad's favourite spot after a long day of work, was laying on the couch watching telly, so from as far back as I remember, I used to lay on the couch with him. I'd lay behind him, or he'd lay on his side and I'd curl behind his legs, rest my arm on his hip and prop myself up. It was a dangerous place to lay when he had gas.
Right up until he died, ten years ago, it was rare that I visited and we didn't end up watching something together on the couch. It was a constant physical closeness through the first 29 years of my life, that I no longer experience. Before I moved away from home, there was at least an hour a day where I had close physical contact with another human being.
And I miss that.
I have a wife and a mistress and on rare occasions they will both cuddle up in bed with me. You know the best thing about having having two people in bed with you? It's not the sex, though that can be exciting or lovely, it's being held by two people, waking up in the morning with a warm body either side. I'm not exaggerating when I say that there is little that makes me feel as joyful, happy, or loved.
I once got to share a bed with four (or was it five?) female friends when I was a teenager. Totally non-sexual, it was a big bed and my friends saw no reason for me to sleep on the floor. Naturally I was mildly aroused laying there between two girls, (I was breathing and it's my default state if I'm breathing) but what I loved most was that feeling of rightness it carried - trust, care, togetherness.
But I can't ask people for in-depth conversations, long nights cuddling, or other stuff. I'm too aware that my need is an imposition to others, something I always try to avoid, to the point of it being to my own detriment. What I'm so willing to give to others, I can't bear to ask for myself. The only time I've really given way to the need for closeness and actually asked (well actually, I usually hinted... broadly...) was during a really bad period where I suffered pattern nightmares many years ago. If I was in a room with someone, I'd wake up, listen to them breathing or look at their huddled shape, calm myself and go back to sleep. If I was alone, the best I could hope for was that the rest of the night I might doze.
Generally I can get the intimacy I desire other ways, as mentioned. Good talks on life, sharing someone's creative vision, discussing sex, emotions, problems... But it's not like they come up that often. And besides, who wants to talk about them all the time? Even I don't.
In the end, what I need most is physical closeness. It's funny, I wouldn't even begion to consider it a weakness in someone else, but I hate it in myself. I'd have no problem offering even clothed hugs to most folks, but can hardly ask my wife for them.
So when I talk about the feelings of loneliness and grief, as I did the other day, this is what I'm discussing. A world without depth, be it physical, emotional, or intellectual, is a lonely place indeed. It drains me and leaves me feeling lost and empty. And I hate the need and weakness that brings out in me.
But it's the place I spend so much of my time.
Over the years I had, naturally enough, run across bits and pieces of the Beatles work and liked what I'd heard. Finally I bit the bullet, downloaded all their albums, and gave them a listen. Not only did I love pretty much all of it, but I discovered that a bunch of songs I never knew were theirs... were... umm... theirs.
I don't know what else to say. I love the variety of the music, the mix of styles and influences. And the amazing thing is it's pretty much all good stuff. No dud albums, at least as far as I was concerned.
I once had a friend who hated the Beatles. We had a huge argument because even though I only knew a little of their work, I was aware of their legacy and the huge influence they had on music. And because she didn't like them, she refused to accept that they were one of the key influences on modern music. I told her, she was welcome to not like their music, that was fine, but you couldn't deny their impact on musical history.
Listening to the albums again, with my knowledge of what was coming out around the same time, my god it was a hell of a change.
Without downloading, I'd have never done this. Of course, now I have to go and buy all the albums... but at least I know what I'll be getting.
The Beatles Rock!