Definition of vulnerable
: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
This essay birthed itself from the universe. In the last few months, I have been talking about vulnerability non-stop. I have had more discussions on what it means, making spaces for it in romantic relationships and reading articles like this one about what men need most in a relationship. I have been thinking about it in my professional relationships and what it means with regards to my family and friends. Yet, it hasn’t felt overwhelming. It has made me feel like I really need to spend some time with myself and I have. I’ve spent time alone with my journal. Cleansed my space. Done cleansing meditations for my spirit. I have prayed. This essay has been a process that has helped me get to something that is never going to be resolved with a singular post. Even writing this post over the last few months has been complex. I used to think that vulnerability meant only about opening yourself up to someone else. I now also understand that it means making a space for someone inside of you as well. It is so easy for me to sit and allow others to share themselves with me. I listen. I hold. I comfort. I reflect. I absorb. But…
It is still extremely hard for me to share my story with others. I ask myself – Can I trust you to carry it? Will you judge me? Will you think it is too much? Too all over the place. Too many layers. Too many sides. As I observe myself, in any given moment, I can go from listening to Spice Girls and dancing to sitting down to Coltrane writing this essay. It took me 39 years and counting to be able to accept all of this about me. How can I trust someone else to carry it within a matter of months if at all? I KNOW me so I know that you are safe with me. I have tried to hand over parts of my burden to someone. Yet, they weren’t ready because it was forced. I know that now.
The enemy tricks us. Tells us that we should be ashamed of our past. That no one will love us if they know all of our scars. That they will go running from the hills. Brené Brown talks about this in the course of her TED talk. I realized some of what was holding me back was shame. Shame that I was the one who allowed herself to be put in life-altering situations where I “should have known better.” Even some of the lectures by people who purport to love me, but when I needed their support made it all about them. I had to learn to let go of the shame because ultimately, every single thing that happened in my past, happened and is unchangeable. It is now a part of my journey and an intrinsic part of who I am. It is part of the path that allowed me to get to where I am.
“Nothing about our lives or about this world will ever change without our willingness to be relentlessly honest. Especially about our past. Especially about our present. Especially when accepting the truth means that it’s time to let something go.” – Chani Nicholas
I also realize that vulnerability is trusting someone to be who they say that they are, but never ignoring your gut or those red flags. Even when your gut is giving conflicting messages, trust yourself that what is meant for us will flow to us. Trust in the protection power of God/The Universe and that those who mean us harm be removed from our life.
The hardest lesson in learning to be more vulnerable is the need to give up control. I have literally told myself “Stop. Right now. You have to remove your will from this and let what is supposed to happen, happen.” Releasing control does not mean inaction. It means preparing ourselves so that what seeks us, when it finds us, we are ready for it. It means that trusting sometimes what we want, is not what we need.
In past relationships, I did not know how to create vulnerability. And yet, I never needed to. I dated emotionally stunted men who had no idea what vulnerability meant, let alone how to express it. That led to various situations which I was ashamed of speaking about in public. It was a long road to get to the point of where I am now. Where I find and seek men who value me and cherish me in a healthy non-toxic way. Where I understand my own sense of self and want someone to help me expand it, not hinder it. Now, I am intentionally seeking that when I find a partner, he and I create a space for each other. He and I create places in our lives, in our active consciousness, that exist for the purpose of providing peace and protection from the outside world.
I started with the definition of vulnerability above. I think to the word capable. Capable means there is a potential, but not that it is a surety. Let’s operate on the side of the absolute transformation that vulnerability can provide to us that while there is a possibility, the life we seek is on the side of an unobstructed pathway to our truest self.