Paper and Ink: Femme Aimee (66)

Paper and Ink: Femme Aimee (66)

By Emmeling Bisiikwa, Uganda:

The hardest part of a relationship is probably becoming intimate with someone, letting them into your space. No matter how many people I date, I still feel that we are strangers as we start talking, and it is only when I can be completely comfortable and open with them that I feel what we have is real.


Becoming truly intimate with someone isn't a simple or casual act. It means showing your vulnerable side; your scars and insecurities, your pain. That's never an easy thing to do. It's opening yourself up to potential ridicule and rejection.


About a year ago I was at my most destructive. I was angry, needy, and resentful and just didn't know how not to spill over every time I opened my mouth. I was a mess and my partner received the backlash of all that. Sure he was the cause, but that's no excuse for being out of control. It took me a while to pick up the pieces after we made a mess of things, and I realized you have to be responsible for your emotions and feelings – not the other person. It is easy to emasculate someone when you make them feel like they are inadequate and nothing they do is good enough to make you happy.


Intimacy implies letting someone else get close enough to you to see all your secrets and hidden places, to see deep into you. An intimate relationship means you are willing to let go of your defenses let someone see you, including all of your vulnerabilities and weaknesses—which can be terrifying.

Intimacy can be so overwhelming that it pushes you apart instead of together. When you see everything in its entirety, there is no turning back. Sometimes it causes overwhelming feelings that you try to run from. Being seen so closely can feel as if you are totally exposed with nowhere to hide. So then you resist and put up an invisible wall in an attempt to protect yourself from such exposure, and from rejection and hurt. However, as much as this wall may protect you, it also shuts you off from your own feelings. It hurts you because you already care.

One of my greatest fears for my next relationship is letting someone in. Will he be scared off by my deepest darkest demons or will he say he doesn't care what I have done because nothing can change how he looks at me? I want a relationship that provides that safe place without judgment or reservation, somewhere I can be me.

Sure, intimacy helps us heal. We are able to safely explore what is locked up in secret rooms inside of us, and with someone patient and loving we can sort it out. It can be an emotional roller coaster, with an avalanche of feelings overwhelming us but also it provides profuse relief that we aren't hurting anymore.

It feels good to know you don't have to be alone, that you are totally open to someone like a brand new book where you can erase all the past pain. I want to meet someone that sees beyond my façade. I want an intimate relationship on all levels. But in order to have that, there have to be two strong individuals who understand that vulnerability doesn't make you weak; it gives you the courage to face letting someone in and building an impenetrable wall around you both.

Intimacy also implies getting to know yourself more deeply—into me I see. When you know and understand yourself, there is less need to hold back or have secrets—you can be open and accepting of your faults. This enables you to open up to someone and be close to them. When you understand yourself, you can understand others.

You don't have to be perfect before you step into intimacy—the mistakes don't just correct themselves immediately—but simply two people decide to be imperfect together.

Founder and Editor in Chief of the Readers Cafe Africa

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