Starting this blog has had me thinking a lot about vulnerability.
It was really timely that our church asked me to blog about courage last week (I linked to it here on Monday), because it gave me space to flesh out a little bit of what I had been pondering.
Actually now that I am sitting down to write more about it, I am thinking; who am I kidding, my whole life has me thinking about vulnerability pretty often.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a pretty emotional person. I was picked on for it often growing up. I guess there were times I earned that picking, like when I would express (loudly and with tears) those strong emotions over someone (my sisters) purposely singing the words to my favorite song wrong (you just can’t mess with the lyrical genius of Nsync without repercussions okay). There were many times though, that true and important feelings were dismissed with a “she is just really sensitive” or “I am just being overly emotional like always.” Being vulnerable, feeling and expressing your emotions, is more often than not, unwelcome.
I get it though. I can look at myself with compassion and say that a lot of the time, feeling what I am feeling is just too much to ask. It is hard work to wade through those emotions, and sometimes I would rather do something, ANYTHING else to avoid it. Eat some ice cream (or chocolate, or spoonfuls of almond butter or. . .), go shopping, drink an extra-large glass of wine (or two, or three), binge watch a t.v show (or two, or three), whatever it takes to avoid and numb.
I can look at others with compassion too. We all know that embracing vulnerability and emotion in those around us, welcoming it and honoring it, makes it really difficult to keep numbing ourselves. So it is easier, cleaner, to dismiss someone’s emotions than to stand beside them and get messy with their feelings and likely our own as well.
But I listened to this lecture recently and it really challenged me. Brené Brown reminded me that ““you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say here is the bad stuff here is vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s disappointment; I don’t want to feel these… when we numb negative emotions we numb joy we numb gratitude we numb happiness.”
I spend a lot of my time playing this numbing game thinking I am protecting myself, thinking that I am making myself more desirable to others, more worthy. I spend a lot of time denying the parts of myself that make me vulnerable for the sake of safety. But for all that effort I have blocked out deep joy, real happiness, and deep true friendships.
If I am honest, there have been seasons in my life where I fully embraced this emotional vulnerable part of me. Those are the times I look back to longingly. So then how did I get back to the place of shame and hiding? I lot of times, right now being one of them,I run back there when my vulnerability isn’t received well, when all of my fears are reinforced by just the smallest bit of rejection.
But as I think about it now, it has never been worth it. The seasons of numbness and hiding have only left me broken, and full of more motivation to hide, and feeling stuck under a whirlpool unable to find my footing.
Sharing my thoughts here has offered me some space to be vulnerable (with admittedly a lot more space to go, it is easy to be vulnerable behind the safety of a computer screen, but it’s a start). I can tell you with that I have felt a lot of release, a lot of freedom, and have had some feedback that some of you have felt that release and freedom too.
I guess what I am trying to do here is remind you dear friends, and myself, that no matter what our fears try to tell us, vulnerability is always worth it. That feeling all the fear, all the uncertainty, all the insecurity, is worth it because it bring with it bravery, joy, worthiness and connection.
I am welcoming you to be vulnerable, to break the cycle of numbness and hiding, so that you can feel free, be authentically yourself, be deeply and truly loved. I am wanting to remind you and me that those who receive our vulnerability negatively are trapped in the same cycle of hiding, and rather than let that make us hide, let it fuel us to persevere that they may have freedom too.
Here is to giving it my best effort at not hiding and numbing, but to having compassion for the moments I go back to it so I don’t stay there too long. Here is to welcoming you to come along too.
P.S. I know I am way late the Brené Brown party, but seriously take the time to watch/listen to her TED talk (linked above). It is a game changer. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment or email (contact link to the right)!