Many of us have a traumatic experience at an early stage in life (physical, sexual, emotional abuse etc.) which leaves us with a sense of powerlessness and shame; powerlessness, because we were too young to say 'no' to the abuser and shame, because we interpreted the experience as a flaw within us or something we could have avoided but did not.
Many of us carry this burden of powerlessness and shame well into our adulthood and this burden prevents us from achieving deep intimacy in our relationships. That is, we may go through life not allowing anyone to come "too close" lest they see that we are flawed. This is not done consciously and many of us do not realize that we are afraid to allow people in. We develop several coping mechanisms to allow for this "safe distance", but this kind of living leaves a sense of unrest within. We search for "happiness" and "peace" but they evade us...
In my opinion, one way out is to trust another adult (spouse, partner, therapist, etc.) enough to share this traumatic experience with and process thoroughly. Of course, one needs to first feel safe with this individual, because such a step feels very risky. In effective therapy, the burden of shame is removed when the affected individual feels understood, empathized with and importantly, recognizes that self-blame is no longer necessary.
The experience of trusting another human being and feeling "safe" in the relationship can open the door to intimacy. Intimacy also increases our sense of self-worth because we feel valued and loved by another. Peace, contentment, happiness etc. are bound to follow...
Sujata V, Ph.D, MFT
Always Learning..through the good AND not-so-good times!