From we are babies, connection is a primal desire. Although we can survive without it, its nearly impossible to have healthy psychological development without it. Lacking connection, we deprive ourselves of the rich emotions of happiness, feeling witnessed and understood, and a sense of I’m not alone in this world.
I’ve observed that when I feel judged, by myself or by someone else I love, I pull back. Judgement and criticism cut me off from feeling connected. Its like a form of punishment.
With my sense of connection broken, I protect myself by blaming the judger, “he doesn’t understand me” or “I’d like to see how she would manage in my shoes”.
Ironically, this defense mechanism leaves me feeling even more disconnected.
I had an interesting experience last night. I sat down to watch an episode of a comedy on Netflix before bed. My husband joined me. We don’t watch a lot of TV and because we rise early and have prioritized sleep as a must-have on our selfcare list, TV together before bed doesn’t happen that often.
I was craving a little light entertainment and we’d recently discovered The Kominsky Method, a comedy series with Michael Douglas. Laughter is such a connection emotion for me. If I watch comedy alone, I laugh on the inside. Unlike my daughter who, with head phones on, can laugh out-loud completely by herself at such volume and with such glee that you can hardly not join her!
If I watch something funny with someone, I laugh out loud. Laughing out loud feels so much more gratifying than laughing alone.
Back to last night. I sat in a comfy chair, my Love stretched out on our loveseat.
We watched. We enjoyed. We laughed.
After about 10 minutes, I felt an internal disruption and noticed I wanted to be sitting closer to Scott. I got up and moved. I sat on the floor, which I love to do anywhere, legs crossed and with my head inches from Scott’s stretched legs.
There. Better I thought. More connected. I silently acknowledge to myself that we are both enjoying this, together.
Michael Douglas’ character had a hilarious interaction with his Urologist (played by Danny DeVito; need I say more!) and we both burst out laughing. In a second and so automatically I turned to Scott. My sight joining the sound of his laughter. I felt double-the-joy in that moment. I laughed a little more, smiled a little wider, connected a little deeper.
This is nice, I thought. My Love’s whole face smiles when he smiles. He just has one of those faces. I felt a gush of warmth.
I’m not sure what spurred me to turn when he laughed but I was so glad I did.
What I later acknowledged is that connection isn’t there or not, on or off, it has a range that can be measured by the quality. And that quality is very much in my control. As much as distraction and shame destroy connection, something as simple as looking directly at someone when you talk or laugh, connects us at a much deeper level. It gifts us more of what, at our core, we all desire. To be noticed. To be acknowledged. To be in this life together.
As I fall asleep, I think, tomorrow I am going to continue connecting a little deeper where opportunity arises. Not just for a world in need, but for me.