‘Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.’
– Brené Brown
Reading Linda Kohanov recently reminded me of how important it is to allow ourselves to be truly vulnerable. Her words ‘vulnerability is on the of the most difficult feelings for the human ego to handle. Letting go of our defences takes humility, awareness and tremendous courage. Opening the heart to life’s mysteries allows us to experience the beauty behind the pain and keep our hearts open to life’.
Over 7 years ago I remember my first embodied realisation on this journey. The journey between and with strength and vulnerability. Many of us grow up with the belief and words ‘be strong, don’t cry, its character-building stuff’. I wonder especially here in the west where I live the British and our ‘stiff upper lip’ culture creates such armouring through walls of defences where we are encouraged not to cry, not to emote, that to show our tears is a sign of weakness. I so strongly disagree. Tears are a sacred necktar, a sacred water that aids us to open our hearts. We long to cry through laughter, yet few of us allow ourselves to truly cry till we laugh.
Grief and joy. Two sides to the same coin.
We live in a world of seeking the good and the pleasure, joy chasers, yet when pain comes upon us in the form of loss we shut it out instead becoming angry, dismissive, ‘poisoned arrows’ of pain being thrown both consciously and unconsciously as we ‘defend ourselves form opening ourselves to be truly seen in the magnificent ‘chaos’ that it takes to be fully human, fully alive, fully here.
How many of us feel we are living a ‘half’ life? Settling for the job, the house, the lover, the life we have through fear of ‘fucking it up’. Fear of being alone? Fear of stepping into the unknown? Fear of the actually asking for our needs to be met, yes someone can decline, yet to actually ask for what we want…..wow…therein lies a concept and beauty that few of us actually give ourselves full permission to do. What might happen? Yes, we may get rejected and turned down. BUT, what if, we are met? What then? Crikey. Yes, vulnerability. Someone has heard, someone has responded, and someone loves us enough to meet us fully. This can be a rarity. I know for me I have some people in my life that offer me this, they also offer me the exercise of practising to deal with ‘rejection’ when they cannot or do not want to meet said needs. Therapists are great for learning these things. We speak, they listen, they also have great boundaries which means that a negotiation has to ensue to meet your needs, thus practise for the real world.
Relationships we settle for, we take for granted, we become complacent about. It takes huge vulnerability to show up fully, it takes snot, tears, heart opening and wrenching honesty to show up in our glory and our pain. These things make us human. For me it is what it takes for me to be fully engaged with life.
I know if I am unable to do this I decline – mental and physical health suffer. I become distant, depressed, so very questioning of my actual meaning in this life. This is because my heart is open. It is open to connection it is open to life and love. I have such fear around this, and it is a continual practise which often sees me still wanting to hide and people often rejecting me as too much, which I turn around into ‘I’m not enough there is something wrong with me’. Yet, is there actually anything ‘wrong’ with any of us? I doubt it. We all have our own journeys, our own wounds, stories and patterns, I feel strongly that it is what we do with these wounds and patterns and how they play out in our lives.
Can we begin to see them as guides, as pathways? As simply stories and patterns and begin to re-write them? Holding the parts of ourselves that ‘play out’ in fear and pain to keep us safe when really, we want to run forward and embrace all of life?
Can we as human beings – see another and accept them as a being walking their own path? I know I can struggle with this. I judge myself so why would I not judge another? This is another of my learnings and growth points. We are all learning. I know that for me being open to my vulnerability means that I am being authentic to myself, to my life and my path. I am being courageous and strong by inviting ALL of myself here to dance the dance of life and love….does it hurt? Hell yes, does it also bring me joy? Hell yes.
I say bring it – bring it with grace, bring it with passion and bring life to me to dance with, the messy dance of life in all its glory and colours. May my vulnerable heart grown in its strength as I say yes to more life.