I was that today. And it was challenging.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel vulnerable all the time. But I think that is a little different than BEING vulnerable.
Vulnerable as defined by Merriam-Webster is
“1: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded 2: open to attack or damage 3: liable to increased penalties but entitled to increased bonuses after winning a game in contract bridge”
I felt as if I was in danger of being wounded. I wasn’t. I worried about being attacked or damaged. I wasn’t. I fretted that I may be punished for expressing my truth. I wasn’t.
Feeling vulnerable is fear. It is insecurities bubbling up.
Being vulnerable is feeling these things and deciding to be authentic and raw anyway.
“Vulnerability isn’t good or bad. It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living. […]
Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
I like that. That offers me comfort and hope.
Today, I could have done what I usually do. I could have put on my happy face. I could have visualized my protection cloak and put it on (yes, I really do visualize myself putting on a black velvety cloak and mentally snuggle up inside to protect myself sometimes). I could have decided not to speak my truth and continued life as is and survived.
I peeled away my shell, I opened the door to the wall, I even opened my invisible magic cloak. I felt exposed. I felt terrified with all that exposure. I might come across as weak, selfish, whiny. I worried that I would actually come across as a drama queen, instead of someone who had put a great deal of thought into what she was about to share.
Every insecurity bubbled up.
This wasn’t even some major emotional soul baring event, either. I was about to be honest about my truth with two of my closest and dearest friends. Something that should (notice the *should*) have been easy and felt safe. But it didn’t. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I didn’t want to come off as a problem. All I was doing was acknowledging a miscommunication between us. I wanted to address it so that it was known, acknowledged and let go. It was honestly no big deal!
I have shared from time to time that I struggle with my throat chakra. It is extremely hard for me to be really honest about the hard stuff. I can be honest and really peel away the layers and tell you how ridiculously proud I am of you, how your presence in my life has improved me, how much I love you. But the moment I need to share something that may ruffle feathers, or rock the boat, or requires me to share something that may hurt feelings or if the slightest bit of miscommunication may happen and someone may be disappointed or get mad at me, I hold back.
My neck and shoulders are constantly tight. I often have a tightness in my throat, a kind of lump in my throat. And as I just shared, I worry about saying the wrong thing or hurting feelings.
I get so wrapped up in choosing my words so very carefully, I put so much effort into being tactful. I fear being judged. I fear being rejected. I fear being challenged. It is easier for me to gloss over truths and do my best to let them go than to give others the opportunity to NOT hurt me. I end up accommodating instead of being honest.
The problem with this is I end up being less than authentic. Which closes the door on growth and intimacy. I often second guess myself and don’t allow my courage to do its thing. By not allowing myself to act vulnerably and be authentic, I am taking the opportunity of compassion and empathy away from others. This can close the door to honest and authentic relationships and leave me feeling like I don’t really belong.
But today, I WAS vulnerable. I was actively vulnerable. I put those fears aside. I did acknowledge them. I didn’t ignore them, but I put them aside. I didn’t allow them power over me. I heard my ego. I felt the feelings. And I trusted myself.
I took a deep breath and I started the conversation. My hands shook. There may have been a tear or two, but that was really nerves bubbling up. I had allowed the anticipation to come and I rolled over the stormy waves of insecurities and into the reality of depth.
And it was fine. They listened. They received my words honestly and openly. They reacted with empathy and compassion. They spoke their truths. We ended up clearing up a other misunderstandings/miscommunications, some I had no idea had happened. Honesty, truth, trust, authenticity, real emotions won over wounded feelings, damage, and protection.
I bared my emotions and I didn’t break. I trusted myself to be able to communicate authentically and with clarity. I trusted our friendship. I trusted us.
I am proud of that choice to let my fears step aside and allow my courage and faith in myself to be strong enough not doubt. And I am thankful for my friends’ ability to show me compassion while speaking their truths.
Being vulnerability gave me strength and helped me grow today.
I decided to share this personal story to show even those of us who practice mindfulness, are reiki practitioners, pay close attention to our chakras and energies have challenges with vulnerability and even authenticity. It is part of the journey.