“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.”- Brene Brown
When it comes to the subject of vulnerability, I’m a novice. It’s been one of those human emotions I’ve heard about but never really experienced in my own life because I wasn’t conscious of it. Actually, I was completely numb to it. Now that I’m becoming more aware of it and looking for moments of it in life, the more I realize I have been feeling it all along; I just didn’t know it.
I’m going to share the following scenario that happens to me on a regular basis while I’m at work. If someone were to ask me what I do for a living, I’d do my best to give a detailed description of what I do as a teacher. After describing the ins and outs of teaching along with a couple of sentences that begin with, and research shows, I believe the person would be convinced that I knew what I was talking about. The reality is most of the time I have no clue what’s going on. But I would never admit that to my family or friends. It’s safer to tap it out on a keyboard hidden behind a computer screen.
If I were to say it out loud in front of a friend, I’m all too familiar with my inner reaction or feeling that comes right along with being vulnerable. I’d suddenly feel myself shrink inside. Shrink, shrink, shrink until the person sitting on the opposite end either finishes me off with a catty remark or catches me with a reassuring sentiment.
Is that being vulnerable? From the definition above, I believe it is; I’m opening myself up and by doing so, I’m allowing myself to either be understood or wounded. I believe the art of vulnerability comes from knowing intuitively who to trust and who not to trust with your insides. And that’s what I’d like to write about next week.
The past week turned my life a little topsy turvy and I was presented with the opportunity to practice all the heart opening I had been doing on the mat and everything I had been talking about on this blog last month, during the Heart Opening Project.
This month marks three years since my dad was shot and killed (you can read a little more about that here). There was an arrest made in this case and it is looking like it is finally making it’s way to trial, hopefully,….maybe. There is always the chance there will still be more continuances, extensions, and whatever other legal nuiances out there that can make this judicial process extremely inefficient and frustrating.
I have tried, I mean really tried, not to get too caught up in this case. I have tried to separate it out from my healing journey. But, this week, as I entered the court room to begin this process, I felt so much of the trauma, fear, anxiety and panic flooding back.
Instead of trying to be a pillar of strength, instead of trying to pretend like I was OK and “over” the grief, instead of trying to be strong for others, I asked for help.
This was not easy. It is not my natural tendency. I generally try to handle hardships on my own, in my own head and with my own resources.
But, I am (hopefully) past that point in my life. I have good people around me and I cannot do this on my own.
I sent out text messages to friends to tell them how I was feeling. I immediately took my husband up on his offer to take off work and be by my side, when normally I would have brushed that off and pretended I would be OK. I did the same with my mom when she offered, because even at 31, some situations still call for your mommy. I took time after I left the court house to take care of myself, eat healthy, get a massage and sweat it out at hot yoga. I talked about it, journaled, cried, felt and gave thanks for all the support I found.
Although it was not my natural tendency, it begin to feel acceptable and I hope I am finally getting to the place where I can open my heart up to others. I am learning the good people out there will know how to treat your heart, but you need to let them in first.
Thank-you to all my friends and family who offered their love and hearts this past week, and a special thank-you to one of my caring students who wrote me this lovely note, reminding me of advice I had once given here and making me some beautiful hand-made gifts.