Vulnerability is hard.
We here at The Daily Sisterhood value vulnerability extensively and see it as the steep mountain pass that leads to all the most valuable experiences in life. It’s powerful, it is the new strength, etc. I believe all that. But it sure doesn’t make me feel powerful when I’m laid bare, ultra vulnerable, and totally unprepared.
Preparing, of course, being a way to make me feel less vulnerable while making myself vulnerable.
For all the work I do (or, my cynical mind chastises me, that I claim to do) on vulnerability, it turns out there are still fewer people in the world with whom I can be spontaneously and genuinely vulnerable, than there are fingers on my left hand. When I feel under fire I am more likely to adhere to my fight or flight instinct than I am to just lay out exactly what I am feeling.
What is seemingly worse, is that I have some friends who seem to tell me everything (reason would dictate they probably don’t), whom I love dearly, but when it comes time for me to be open myself and practice what I preach, I lock up. It’s like I’m more attached to my image as a warrior who has her act together than I am to the truth of who I am. Even now, I’d rather they saw me for who I like to pretend I am, rather than who I actually am.
I feel like who I really am, is too intense for them to handle.
The friends who do see me vulnerable, are often stuck watching me fall to pieces begging them for help to step back up. It’s the implied begging for help that makes me resist vulnerability.
As I investigate I find there is a hidden arrogance in this. It states, I can handle myself when I’m low, I can figure out what I need. But I can’t rely on anyone else to figure out how to help me or to know their own barriers. So I have to protect them from me, and by association, from themselves. Ouch.
The process of getting to know yourself is impressively difficult. It feels like those on a path of self-discovery put all Agatha Christie’s heroes to shame, simply by asking ourselves questions like “why am I feeling this upset?”, “why do those questions they are asking me make me feel like I am inadequate?”, “whose responsibility is this situation?” and “once I have processed my feelings, what can I do to respond from a place of love?”
We can’t always act from pure love. Sometimes we have to act in order to find our way back to love – seemingly from desperation – but the least we can do is acknowledge to ourselves that that is what we are doing, and state as much to those to whom we reach out.
I am also learning I can’t be vulnerable around everyone and that it’s cruel to myself to pretend otherwise. The balance between love towards others and love towards ourselves is one of these things we probably have to work on for our entire lives…