I’m interested in the possibility of a redemptive intimacy developing between strangers who agree to enter a relationship — not necessarily romantic — premised on unvarnished and intentional truth telling about our traumas and fears from the conception of the series of interactions. To turn inward and reveal who we really are and what we need in this moment, almost like descending from the mountaintop rather than climbing up it. The descent requires its own form of acclimatisation and is not to be underestimated. It’s intriguing to me then: working backwards from the most fundamental parts about me rather than trading high school anecdotes and much later, perhaps, the first instance of violence. I am also curious about how an awareness of a relationship being framed as an experiment impacts or directs the interactions that unfold. What festers at the root might be this: By removing judgment, do we create atmospheres ripe for flourishing? By laying out margins for trial and error from the outset, simple human flaw, do we craft a different type of relationship... one that is unthreatened and worthwhile? I want to disrupt the linearity of the ways we can relate to each other.

How does a shared history with people from formative periods of our lives impact the people we are trying to become now? Can personal links to that actually hinder the healing process and cloud present judgment based on the past? My recent self-examination has circled around freeing myself from my own past and baggage and whether embarking on that is as simple as a resilient mindset. I have often felt more freedom with the stranger, the person who has no direct connection to my histories: the places I have lived, my parents and friends, school and college. Inaccurate reputations and yes, past lovers. Maybe this freedom arises because there is no element of obligation nor expectation nor fear — no judgment and at least initially, caring about whether they like me or not. This allows me to be painfully honest. What if we could say to each other: I want to enter a mutual process of deconstruction with you, starting with the things I am most ashamed of.

Could we help each other grow sustainably? Let’s break away from the immediate gratification of certain connections and instead cultivate joy, healing, connection — free from attachment?

Redemptive Intimacy — Emily Nabnian