Pillow Talk

There’s a beautiful inaccuracy I’ve been shown over and over again in the last year:  how we assume we can know another human being simply through the few, or many interactions we’ve had with them over a few or many years.

For example, people believe that they know my husband, perhaps through his work, or his parenting, or his friendship, or by how many successes or failures he’s acquired over a lifetime of near seventy years of being human.

But they can’t possibly know who this same person is at the level of Pillow Talk. No amount of interviews, or long, close talks with friends, can reveal the kind of person who is so sacredly revealed to me when we are alone, held in the safety and sanctity of romantic relationship.

The other day I wondered, What would it be like if, instead of “knowing” someone by their outward appearance, habits of survival, or armoring, we were afforded the blessed experience of knowing them at the level of Pillow Talk?  What kind of world would we be living in, then?

If we knew without a doubt—without for one moment being hoodwinked by the personality in front of us—that this person, too, wakes in the night, crying out from a bad dream, that they curl into the fragile body of their mortality in high fever, in ill health, that they sometimes wish or ask to be held.

If we could assume that no one “has it together”, knows all the answers, or is comfortable in the human cloth but instead, yearns to know Home and return to it or return to a time when somebody told them, “Everything’s going to be okay,” and could still believe it…

I think that it would be a different world. Leaders of countries, the person next to us on the subway, our co-workers, our stepchildren; the parent, the sibling—we can know that there is a level of vulnerability that this person may show only one other person, ever, in a lifetime.

But that level of vulnerability exists in all of us, perhaps and unless we have become enlightened, which, for most of us is not the case.

So, this is an invitation to remember that whoever stands before you is a practiced personality, that can’t possibly share with you that level of intimacy reserved for the safe territory of the one who shares their bed—and if they can, it is the rare and blessed and evolved one.

There are glimpses of sacred tenderness we sometimes get to see:  The soft pat on the backside of the wife, by the husband, as she passes through the kitchen, a child in her arms.  The soft smooch placed onto the forehead of the beloved one who writes at the computer. The smiling eyes and impish grins on the faces of the young couple, exchanged ever-so-briefly at the family gathering, whispering of where they have recently been, or are going to later…

I think we all yearn to know and be known at this sacred level, and one day, I believe we’ll be living in a world in which we can.

For now, let’s believe it in order to see it.

You are Love, You are Loved,

em claire

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  • Therese

    Oh, yes, I, too, believe that one day it will be safe to reveal the pillow person. Right now it is enough, I think, to work on feeling safe to simply be an optimist!

  • Christopher Toft

    Thoughtful post Em, thanks. It must be interesting & very enriching to live with a person & see them in their happiness, centred peace & joy, then to also see their sufferings, confusions & pain. sort of like the individual journey we all experience but shared in “stereo”. I bet your experience of Neale is all the richer for it;’)

  • Laura

    Thank you for this much needed reminder!

  • Katie

    Don’t fear, just live right. ~Neal A. Maxwell

  • imacarin1

    Thank you, Em. Just because you’re married to someone doesn’t necessarily mean you know them either and, sometimes, they’ve got their guard up more with you than with their friends or families in some ways. We are all playing roles in front of each other no matter the relationship and we all have our perceptions that cause us to play these roles, but those perceptions aren’t real either… they’re just stories we’ve made up through our lifetime… conclusions we’ve come to from a place of ego/separation. Byron Katie says we never true ever know another person BUT we can strive to be understanding instead of trying to be understood all the time. I think this is key: the more we are vulnerable with others and show them how we’d like to be treated, by example, the more they will be vulnerable with us. This takes great trust, faith, and acceptance that every aspect of our reality is essentially good/God.

  • Jeroen de Winter

    You are already lucky to have one person for pillow talk, for many people not even this is the case…if IN a marriage……

  • Contentttt

    To “Pillow Talk”, one must be willing to divulge and share from the heart. Being vulnerable to and susceptable to and with another person’s potential criticism, judgment or unconditional acceptance! People tend to protect their Self, because it is their most valued and sacred commodity! Yet out of fear, one holds back and protects their most inner Self and their most vulnerable feelings and thoughts!

    “When this world is judgment free and “uncondional acceptance” is the norm, no matter what choice one may make or how one may feel, then pillow talk will become the norm, and no longer be the unusual!”

  • mewabe

    The inner space that we all protect is a dark space, for it can only be filled with light when it is open.

    Pillow talk is intimacy, and intimacy can only come when a person is intimate with him/herself.

    Many a stranger will tell their life stories to another perfect stranger on a plane or some other public place. But this is not intimacy…it is a form of neurotic catharsis, a release of nervous energy that is not necessarily connected to actual feelings.

    What do vulnerability, defenselessness, openness really mean? It means that you are no longer afraid of yourself.

    Believe and you will see.

    Love and you will know.

  • jillie hearth

    thanks Em for your tender and sweet perspective. to me, seeing the fragile, tender vulnerability in everyone, mostly ourselves, is part of being enlightened; for we are seeing the open honesty of all that the experience holds as powerful conductors of pure, heavenly energy in the most tender, fragile bodies while on this precious Earth. the deeply poignant and extreme contrast of these vast characteristics is what makes compassion the unifier of all that is while being human. not being afraid of seeing all that this earthly experience has held for all life is also part of enlightenment. really seeing and cherishing our weaknesses is our strength. h’opono pono. love, jillie

  • Victor Foster

    This is wonderful as you know it , I have tried to live this , but without both wanting the same, its one step forward …..many steps back.

  • Erin

    How very sweet, Em…Takes a strong woman to behold a strong man, and obviously your strength has guided & supported well of one, as has your combo guided & supported well-ness of many. Got Life by the buns, Hon…Let the eider feathers fly! <3

  • Kristen

    Nice article Em. I wish everyone felt they could be themselves 24/7 rather than having to sell themselves out to the public and demands of others expectations of them. You are a very brave woman marrying anyone relatively well known and Neale is a very brave man for allowing a huge part of himself to be public property. I am not a CwGer, but will always respect those who are prepared to be a public or known person at their own personal expense. I don’t like poetry (purely as it is ‘not me’ but love music lyrics) but you write beautifully especially the story of your visit to your father, and as a visualiser the standards need to be very high to allow visualisers to see the story as a mental movie as we read it. Very few writers can ‘take us there’, which is probably why poetry doesn’t do anything for me as words without a mental image are just words.
    Have a great 2014!

  • Pentti R

    My “pillow talk” to myself is as follows: My Source, My Friend, We Are
    All One. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
    We are
    all well,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    This seems to work. Any other good alternatives
    for an evening prayer?
    Kindest regards, Pentti