Integral Life Coaching

What Have I Learned About Intimacy Through Writing My Memoir?

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(812  words – 6 min read)

The word intimacy might sound very sexy but through writing my memoir, thinking about the story of my life and why everything happened the way it happened, I learn beyond the sexiness of this word “Intimacy”.

We humans have a great desire to build intimate relationships. Intimacy gives us comfort, connection, and fulfilment. Yes, intimate sex is very comforting but our desire is bigger than that and the physical is only part of what we seek. We crave a safe shelter to express our emotions without fear of judgement and to be our true selves in many aspects of our lives and relationships. Intimate relationships are not just between romantic partners but friends, parents, and even business partners. According to Wikipedia and its sources there are 4 types of intimacy; “Emotional intimacy, Intellectual(cognitive) intimacy, Physical intimacy, and Experiential intimacy”.

I believe we create intimacy when we let our partner or friend think out loud in our presence with no fear of losing our support. It creates that safe shelter for them to go and vent, where we can talk about our most private thoughts without the fear of being judged. That is a totally different level of communication.

When we have those relationships in our life, we can experience what it is like to be ourselves with them. The sense of confiding with another human being offers a feeling of fulfilment. When we know we have a true fan who accepts us as a package, we feel connected. That is the beginning of self-awareness too. We become brave enough to admit our dark side because we are not alone and we become proud of our bright side because intimacy reminds us we are worthy.

Even short term intimacy can create lifelong satisfaction. I feel the fulfillment, and I hear the sound of satisfaction and pleasure surviving in an 80 year old man talking about the only true romantic love he experienced in his 20s. It didn’t last long but still warms his heart in his dark lonely days.

Perhaps building long-term intimacy brings the ultimate feeling of fulfillment. Across the world, people try hard to build intimacy into all kinds of relationships. Some do it easily, but some face a fear of intimacy due to personal experience, cultural pressure, or political repression and fail.  Without exception, I believe everyone tries their best to gain it.

Writing my story, I realized when I was able to be that person for someone else, as well as recognizing those who could be that person for me. I began to understand how different my life has become as a result of those long and short term intimacies in my life. And I learned how miserable I was when my life lacked intimacy.

I learned how difficult it is to create intimacy under authoritative structure. The authoritative culture and political structure of Iran’s society where I was raised, created fear and distrust in most inter-personal communications. That has poisoned the core structure of society impacting relationships among families, friends, and businesses.  That fear and distrust significantly lowered the possibility of creating intimate relationships. I realized how fear led people’s emotions. People could hardly trust to express their feelings and to be themselves without fear of being judged or even punished. And how that resulted in a difficulty to experience true and unconditional love. To love and to be loved. The basic human need….

I learned lack of intimacy in one’s life is the biggest damage that creates so much confusion. It disconnects people from their society. And when almost everyone feels like that, the whole society suffers from lack of love, fulfillment, and contentment.

In my story, I want to show how people were starved for intimacy because the authoritative structure created fear, distrust, and insecurity. To survive insecurities, people carried a hidden agenda. Any kindness could hide a selfish reason behind it, demanding a favor in return. I lived that life. It was dark, we knew it, but I didn’t know anything better. I knew there was something out of order, but didn’t realize it fully until I was in a different environment far from there with a more democratic structure. At that point I saw the darkness and began to understand what caused it. It was sad learning how dark it was, but liberating to learn how to change it! A democratically structured environment, though imperfect, tremendously helped my emotional growth. It enabled me to create all sorts of intimate relationships including a successful marriage. I began to learn how it feels to be fulfilled and connected because of intimacy, by being myself, and by giving and receiving unconditional love in my life. I have a long way to go to feel less fear and more connected but I cherish my intimate relationships and the depth of meaning they add to my life every day.

Celebrate life!


Editing Credit: M. Curtis

Picture Credit:

Author: Shabnam

Shabnam Curtis was born and raised in Tehran, experiencing the Iranian Revolution of 1979 firsthand. In 2004 she immigrated to the United States, where she now works as a passionate life coach and a writer. Shabnam is a certified Integral Coach with New Ventures West and International Coaching Federation. She offers one-on-one coaching sessions as well as workshops for groups. Since September of 2021, she also has been the life coach in residence for Dimension Science Bridges Non-profit organization.

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