On Vulnerability

Considering what I do for a living, you would think I would be an expert in vulnerability. After all, I get the privilege of being present with people during some of the worst, hardest days of their lives. I am a witness to their own vulnerability.

But alas, how little this gift makes its way into my own life. I am NOT GOOD at being vulnerable myself. I loathe crying in front of other people. Mostly because I know once it starts, it is unlikely to stop. This is made all the worse by the fact that I am emotionally an open book with the people who know me best. Hence why I don’t let many people get to know me.

Who knows from whence this facade comes? I could chalk it up to the fact that being vulnerable, getting real with my emotions, ultimately led to the undoing of my first marriage, when I had a husband who witnessed me disintegrate over a year when I lost a dear friend in a car accident, followed closely by losing my father to cancer. Or perhaps it was my own refusal to put myself in therapy after these losses and face my grief. Instead I threw myself into dating almost immediately after the divorce papers were filed. In many ways, I am thankful for that. It ultimately brought me to Steve, who has been my rock for the past 10 years.

But it also means I didn’t take some important time. To become my own rock. To fall in love with myself because I was too caught up in falling in love with someone else. To learn how to be alone without being lonely. To fill the silence with constructive and healthy practices rather than trying to drown out my own fears and anxieties with noise. To find contentment in the now without needing to search for the next best thing, the thing that would finally bring me peace. When all along I was missing the fact that peace was not an faraway need that I would track down if I just looked hard enough, but a force that I could find within myself.

So I’ve been trying, dear friends. Trying to make room for the silence. To welcome the alone-ness. I haven’t been extremely successful. When I start to feel vulnerable and alone, I get anxious. And the cycle continues.

But here and there, I catch glimpses of myself being still. Here and there, I am able to find myself and breathe. And celebrate being alive and present. Right here. Right now.

It starts by forgiving the anxious moments. It starts by recognizing when they come and saying “Here I am. I’m feeling open and scared.”

But at least it means I’m feeling. And if I can allow myself to do that, if I can sit with the discomfort, then I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable. I’m allowing myself to be open.

I am allowing myself to be me.

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