The desire for intimacy

Talking so much you horrify yourself and those around you; talking so little that you almost refuse your own existence: . . . speech is by no means a straightforward route to connection. If loneliness is to be defined as a desire for intimacy, then included within that is the need to express oneself and to be heard, to share thoughts, experiences and feelings. Intimacy can’t exist if the participants aren’t willing to make themselves known, to be revealed. But gauging the levels is tricky. Either you don’t communicate enough and remain concealed from other people, or you risk rejection by exposing too much altogether: the minor or major hurts, the tedious obsessions, the abscesses and cataracts of need and shame and longing. My own decision has been to clam up, though sometimes I longed to grab someone’s arm and blurt the whole thing out, . . . to open everything for inspection.

Olivia Laing: The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, p75

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