Weakness? No. Huge Strength.
“Vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you, but it’s the last thing I want you to see in me.”
I like to take things from my own life to talk about. For one thing, I shamelessly get to talk about myself 😊. For another, I feel like there are tons of intimate things I want to talk about that other people are experiencing too. And this merges really nicely into this topic of vulnerability. By being the first to initiate the conversation, I take a leap of faith, and of vulnerability by exposing myself.
I have learned, however, that usually what I want to talk about relates to other people deeply – but they aren’t starting the conversation! I’ve taken this to be a strength of mine – taking my reality and exposing it with a hint of humor in case you can’t relate. Because even if you can’t relate, you get a laugh, and you’re not judging me, and I win.
But as is the case with all of our supposed areas of strength, there is always an eventual test that takes you further. Mine has been pregnancy. I am currently in my fifth month, and I am not one of those women who enjoys every minute of the miracle of life. If I’m honest, the real miracle will be when we are two separate beings and it no longer controls my each and every digestive event.
I was always the kid that could eat chili cheese fries and go on ten roller coasters without blowing chunks. Now, I have to ask my husband to brush his teeth nine times a day so I don’t accidentally Ralph Lauren on his sweater during our evening show.
In more or less words, the miracle of life is feeling more like a merciless and outdated punishment for some ancient broad eating a damn apple one time. You know what? I would eat that stupid apple too. If a man told me I couldn’t have it, I’d be snickering quietly while I reached defiantly for that healthy snack (that no one wants anymore anyway, unless it’s dripping with peanut butter) and make sure everyone watched me take the biggest, juiciest bite. But I digress…
And… I’m so sick of complaining every day. But if I’m honest, (ladies back me up) being pregnant has been really, really hard. And I’m starting to understand why. It’s not the physical things that are so hard to swallow… pun intended.
It’s the mental constructs that have been attached to every part of my day and thinking that are being fundamentally challenged.
For example: I’m starting to get bigger. Everyone would understand that that’s because there is a life growing inside me. But there is this really big tug – coming from somewhere that is having a hard time with my personal worth if I get big and duh duh DUH – stay big. It comes from a cultural belief that – and I know better – a woman’s worth is measured by her waistline.
I have been listening to a lot of Brene Brown lately, who studies shame, fear and vulnerability. And thank God, because she has given me some answers… or least some really good questions for this time in my life. She got me thinking about what is really going on with my internal stories about all of this and why it is hard for me to deal.
First of all, if you’ve read my post on control, you know that’s a big one for me. Not having control over your body is tough – especially for a control freak. Not having direct influence over my caffeine intake, exercise routine, income, pretty much everything, makes me feel out of control, and therefore, unsafe, and further, like a failure, and as a result, even more unsafe. Feeling like a failure every day as you struggle to maintain your own bowel movement schedule without over-the-counter assistance – that’s challenging. Thanks baby 😊.
Ok I hope you laughed at that last one. If you didn’t, insert laugh now.
Seriously though… the momentum of feeling like a failure every day, if un-reality-checked, is tough. And the more you tell yourself a story, the more likely you are to believe it. And the more you believe it, the heavier shame sets in.
So I have a question for you: in my sharing this, did you think it took an act of courage? Did you appreciate my honesty in exposing my less-than-perfect mental reality? Could you see yourself in any of this vulnerability?
Or did you judge me for being inadequate? I’ll bet that not one of you experienced the latter. Why? Because it is the very act of vulnerability that makes the people we love who we love.
The very act of revealing something is bringing it to light so that questions can be answered, beliefs can be challenged and reset, and newer helpful beliefs can replace them.
The courage to do something human and be judged for it, the courage to do something creative and be criticized for it, the courage to risk being judged and criticized for being honest and do it anyway – that is what makes us admire the people we do.
Yet we feel like any kind of vulnerability on our own part looks like weakness.
And maybe it does to some people. But now that you are an adult, and you can protect yourself against the potential hurt of someone rejecting you in a place of vulnerability, are you willing to open yourself up to so much more passion and experience by sharing it? Rather than continue to live the boarded-up life you constructed that has you feeling lifeless and passionless?
How are you vulnerable in your every day life?
How are you courageous?