*This is an excerpt from one of the books that I am currently in the process of writing. Enjoy …
Had a ground breaking conversation with Bob recently. I asked him if he knew that I was a sensitive person. His honest response: “On some level, no.”
He followed with saying that I show this “I got everything handled” part with him most of the time that he doesn’t see me as emotional and sensitive and needing his tender loving care.
I told him it’s baffling to me as I am THE most sensitive person in my circle of friends, or in my friends’ lives within their circles of friends. I cry, I show up soft, I let them see my hurts and insecurities. Not that I am an expert at this, it’s taken time, however I feel like they see me and get me, all sides of me.
His next question was what hit me in the gut. He asked “Have you shown that side to any of your past romantic partners?” … and then the tears started. No, no I haven’t shown this side to any of my exes.
His response started a fresh round of tears: “Well that makes sense considering you had to keep it all together for your family, especially after your dad left. There probably wasn’t space for your emotions, or at least didn’t feel like that.”
It’s true. I felt exactly that. I guess I never wanted to make things harder for my family, was sensitive to other’s emotions more than my own, and honestly, I had this belief that to show all of my emotions, needs, insecurities etc would be too much for the other person and they would leave.
To equate vulnerability with beauty was a far cry! I saw my needs and emotions as a burden to others and an ugly quality to be completely candid.
It never felt safe for me to express, break down, share my heart … I never felt like someone would be there for me in the same way that I was for them.
My relationships with my friends have provided me with the safe space to actually practice being who I am, flaws and all, and feel loved through it all. Yet Bob was right, I have not really gone there with the men in my life.
So I let Bob in that night in a way I hadn’t before … I let him see the deepest of my pain and sadness. I had already been making it a practice to show myself more to him. Because of that, the night before this very conversation, I had another opportunity let him see the depth of my yearning for love and how much it hurts sometimes when I feel I am not feeling that same love in return.
The way that prior conversation started was by me feeling tender and asking him for his support – I asked him if he could cuddle me and hold me while I felt whatever was coming up for me.
Vulnerability is a courageous act my friends … don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
It also takes a certain level of safety in order for those deeper, more tender feelings and thoughts to come out. But here is what I haven’t realized until lately:
It is just as much about an inner feeling of safety than it is about an external one.
Because if we wait for the perfect opportunity or scenario or set of circumstances, we may never actually open up. Why would we? It seems way too painful, at least that is what our brain tells us. And it is just doing its job, which is to keep us safe.
Besides the other person that you are wanting to open up to is a flawed and insecure and imperfect being themselves … try as best as they might, they may never be able to create the perfect space for you to share yourself with them.
It is our practice, and responsibility, to feel the fear and reveal our innermost pieces anyway. That is the only way we can strengthen those vulnerability muscles. That is the only way we can prove to ourselves that regardless of what happens on the outside we are safe and capable and strong on the inside.
The more we can let someone see what we are truly experiencing and need, the more we are providing them an opportunity to give those things to us. Or the converse of that, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to see if this person can indeed support us – and if they can’t, we can choose whether to continue to be vulnerable and reach out to them or not
Vulnerability is powerful. For us, for the other person, and for the relationship. If we don’t give people the chance to be there for us, how on earth can they?
Then and only then can we create the kind of connections with people that I believe we all truly crave deep down – the kind that has us feel seen, heard, understood, and loved, exactly for who we are. It takes honesty and courage – which to me is what vulnerability is!
And like anything, it is a practice.
**To get on the waiting list for my upcoming book “Sex, Money, and God”, click HERE!