Vulnerability is hard. It sucks. Having to share parts of myself that I have so carefully locked away into the deepest recesses of my heart. You see, I did this because I thought that by locking it away, nobody would ever know, no person would ever see it. Until…they do. That one person – the person I want to think that I am perfect, without fault. That will love me unconditionally. The key, though, is that to be loved unconditionally I have to show parts of myself that I deem “unlovable.” I have to be vulnerable – fuck.
It hasn’t always come naturally to me: speaking up for myself, elaborating upon my thoughts and feelings, comfortably discussing how things make me feel. I don’t know the reason; maybe it’s shame or that sticky, unrelenting idea that this very thing I reveal will deem me unworthy. I will no longer be lovable if I share this feeling or convey my deepest fears or, or, or, ad infinitum.
The Cambridge dictionary defines vulnerability as: ability to be easily physically, emotionally, or mentally hurt, influenced, or attacked. When I let things out of my tight-lipped mouth I am giving somebody the power to betray me, to break my heart, OR to prove me wrong, to surprise me. Not every act of divulging information has to be a betrayal to who I am.
I am learning that the only way to heal it starts with acknowledging that I am not the best communicator. What I have found to work best for right now – keep talking. Don’t stop. Even if that talking is to myself, written down on paper. I don’t stop until I feel that I got everything down on the page. This serves multiple purposes:
- I don’t judge my own thoughts or feelings
- I don’t have to worry about being judged by anyone
- Allows me to process things I wasn’t even aware of
- I can start to make sense of what I am experiencing and process it in my own way
- Unlocks my creativity (more on that at another time)
- Quiets my mind because everything is out on paper
I feel it a great deal easier to do this than verbalizing the things going on inside me. My journal is a safe space that allows for all parts of me to exist simultaneously. Once this exercise is completed, I have a more coherent idea of what it is I want to say and that is what I do – I say it. Oh, you thought that this side stepped actually sharing? Nice try. That’s the hardest part, though: saying it. Out loud. To another person. If I have learned anything in the last year, however, it is that we are all scared. Nobody wants to be vulnerable first, if at all.
I must, though. How can anyone ever love the totality of who I am if I do not share the hard stuff, the scary stuff, the maybe-I-am-unlovable stuff? What I have received is a love unlike any I could have ever imagined. A love of unity, closeness, safety, and, you guessed it, honest communication. It isn’t easy, it takes work each day. Sometimes that looks like saving the conversation for another time, or texting everything I want to say, even looking my partner in the face and asking the thing I am most frightened to have answered. Yet, the rewards are tremendous. I am more more than I have ever been. More empowered than I ever dared hope. More loving, compassionate and transparent.
Give it a try. The thing you have most to lose by not doing it is of the utmost importance: your voice.