All of us, as human beings, long to love and be loved. We all long, even crave, for intimacy. But many of us have a strange fear of love—a fear of intimacy—which makes us hide; and it means that many men and women have not been able to experience intimate relationships, intimacy, or have any form of sexual experience. And in this place of hiding, we become isolated and begin to look at ourselves in the wrong kind of way. We begin to condemn ourselves and to disqualify ourselves from being worthy of love, or being capable of love.

This isolation can cause great difficulties in our lives. Psychologists or psychotherapists may tell us that there is ” something wrong with you” and we begin to believe that. We begin to analyze ourselves; “There must be something fundamentally flawed; something wrong with me, something broken that needs being fixed”. We develop negative thoughts. We look in the mirror and see a negative image coming back at us. We are convinced that others see us in the same negative light as we see ourselves.

In desperation, well-meaning friends may take us to see a prostitute in order to “lose it.” Of course there is no intimacy in that experience; just pressure. We feel our anxiety rising. We may have a panic attack or break out in a cold sweat. It doesn’t work. We can’t perform. We walk away more disheartened than we were to start with. We can’t tell our friends it didn’t work. But now we’re not just hiding, we consign ourselves to a prison; a self-imposed prison. We hope that while we are languishing in this prison, something might turn up; something might work to set us free. But after a long sentence, we give up. It’s hopeless, all is lost: “I am consigned to this prison forever”.

But what if there was nothing wrong with you? And what if intimacy didn’t produce anxiety; that it was only the wrong type of thinking about intimacy that produced anxiety. What if intimacy actually reduces anxiety; that we should run towards intimacy, not away from intimacy. And what if men—and women—could actually be trusted after all?

And in this place of contemplation, for some, something stirs within and we rise up from the floor of our prison. We rise up above the crowd and become determined to make a change. We feel weak—we feel helpless—but nevertheless, we are determined to try to see if a change can be made.

And so we make changes: starting with the way we think. Then the way we breathe. Then we made changes to the way we appear, even the way we dress. And we begin to make changes in the way we speak. We look at ourselves in the mirror and we say to ourselves, “There is nothing wrong with you”. We may not feel like we believe it, but we begin to say it, and our feelings begin to change the more we say it. We begin to look for help. We search for someone who can help us to have direct experience of intimacy in a safe and supported way. We begin to realise that there are others who have gone before us; others who have escaped from the same type of prison as we ourselves were in, and who found their way to happiness, found their way to freedom: men and women of all ages, of all circumstances, of all backgrounds. And we realise that those who have gone before us have beaten a path. And we can find it.

We dare to test the door on our prison, and we discover that there was no lock on the door. There never has been any lock on the door and there is no prison warden there to guard it. We can walk free. And we can discover our own freedom, our own happiness, our own natural ability to be intimate. For those who have discovered it realize: that love is not simply outside them, but love is within.

 It is actually who we really are.