This week I decided to write my post about vulnerability. Oddly enough, after writing my post I found myself swimming in vulnerability this weekend. I knew that I had to change my post a bit because I realized that writing about vulnerability after you have experienced it can take on a shift in meaning. So please read on, at the end of this post I will share further thoughts that I gained from my personal experience this weekend.
All of us are fragile, and have vulnerabilities, and all of us have different strategies to cope. Many people hide their vulnerabilities because there is a perception amongst some that being vulnerable is the same as being weak. That is simply not true. We may feel weak when we are vulnerable, but that does not mean that we are weak. We think that we are strong when we hide what we feel. But the truth is that it takes strength to feel and share our fears, anxieties, hurt, sadness, or any emotion that leaves us feeling vulnerable.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between being vulnerable and feeling vulnerable. Being vulnerable is an experience that we choose to share with another person. It is when we feel and share our pain, fears, shame, or any challenging emotions with another person. Being vulnerable to another person, especially someone we love, can be frightening because we are in a deepened place of fragility. Therefore, it is important only to share our vulnerability with someone who we trust, someone with whom we feel safe, and someone who we know will value and respect our vulnerability.
However, this becomes tricky if your partner has hurt you because you may conclude that it is not safe to be vulnerable. This is not always true.
Here’s why: As I said, feeling vulnerable and being vulnerable are different. We can feel vulnerable and not let it be seen. And you might think that someone can see your vulnerability because you feel it so intensely, but that is not always the case. Therefore, you may have felt vulnerable with your loved one and they still hurt you. When you were hurt, you decided never to show your vulnerability again. You protect it, and you hide it.
Remember though, showing someone your vulnerability may make them uncomfortable, helpless and scared, so they may not respond to you with a healing touch.
Here’s my thought on vulnerability. First things first, I don’t like feeling and being vulnerable, period. Vulnerability scares me. I feel vulnerable every time I post my blog. I feel vulnerable when someone hurts me and when I’m frightened and when I’ve hurt someone (and shame) and then need to share my remorse with him or her. I feel vulnerable when I make a mistake, especially when it involves another person. I feel vulnerable about the mistakes in my past. I feel vulnerable (and shame) when I gain weight. I even feel vulnerable when I lose weight because I know that someone will recognize when I gain it back again. I feel vulnerable (and shame) when I reflect on my mistakes in parenting, that’s a tough one. And I feel that same vulnerability (and shame) when I reflect on the mistakes that I’ve made as a wife. I could go on and on.
However, and this is so important to know and remember, I think vulnerability is attractive in a person. I feel a deepened sense of connection with someone who allows themselves to be vulnerable with me. I feel trusted and honored when someone shares his or her vulnerabilities with me. I think a person who shares their vulnerability is beautiful and strong. I think that someone who shares his or her vulnerability is authentic and trustworthy. I admire a person who shares their vulnerabilities. I work with people who share their vulnerability with me. I am riveted and awed by their strength, and by their stories.
I don’t know why I decided to write about vulnerability in my post this week (I didn’t know I was going to experience vulnerability this weekend but I believe that there are no coincidences!). Maybe because I hope that people will invite vulnerability into their relationships. I hope that it deepens connections with the ones that you love. I write about relationships, and you can’t write about relationships without recognizing your own vulnerabilities that exist in each and every one of us every day. Even if you don’t visibly see vulnerability in your loved ones, know that it exists, it is fragile and worthy of your gentle touch – just as your vulnerability is worthy of a gentle touch. Most importantly, give that gentle touch to you and your vulnerability, please.
You’ve just read the post that I wrote before my experience this weekend. First, thank you for reading. Remember that I said I don’t like vulnerability and I still don’t. Two things came out of this weekend for me. The first is that I realized that we can experience vulnerability differently depending on the emotion that we feel that connects us to our vulnerability. For me this weekend it was hurt and rejection from past and present. I felt overwhelmingly sad, and I felt vulnerable because I wasn’t sure if those close to me understood my sadness. That being said, I recognize that no one can ever fully understand our experience simply because it is our personal experience. But the fear is of being judged rather than someone fully accepting your feelings and your experience as your own. Feeling that fear doesn’t mean that you are being judged, it is just there. And I learned that if vulnerability is felt with shame or vulnerability is felt with sadness, or if vulnerability is felt with rejection, we will feel vulnerability slightly differently depending on the emotion that we feel. I feel vulnerable when I post my blog, but the vulnerability that I feel when I’ve been hurt or I have hurt someone, is felt differently to when I post my blog.
Last and most important, there was no hiding my vulnerability this weekend. It was clear, and it was present. As I said previously, vulnerability can deepen connections. I felt both my husband and my children move closer to me. I am grateful for them and the experience of deepening connections. And I did take my own advice (not always easy to do); I provided a gentle touch to myself. I put all work aside, and I spent time with my husband, connected with my children, walked and played with my dog, spent precious time in my garden and enjoyed my hobby of cooking. It does help. It doesn’t completely take away the feelings; that is a process of recovery that takes time. But eventually you are left with something better, hopefully, growth and deepened connections. Regardless of how and when one feels or shares their vulnerability, it is authentic, and you are authentic. That is the strength and beauty within you.
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