“The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness. “ – Brene Brown
I have a confession, this little initiative of mine has a secondary purpose of forcing me to express my emotions, some of which have been bottled up for years and embracing what is most uncomfortable for me – Vulnerability.
Putting “Stop and Press Reset” out there was my first exercise, in exposing a little piece of me. To say it was uncomfortable for me is a tremendous understatement. Will they think that I am coming apart at the seams, I worried? Will they think that the rock is crumbling? All of these thoughts roamed through my head, and when I published the post and there was no turning back my emotions ranged from tremendous fear to uncomfortable resignation.
I know now that I learned early on in life that it was uncomfortable to put your emotions out there, in the event that they might expose your vulnerability and someone might use it to hurt you. So I kept them firmly in check. I could always be counted on to be the cooler head that would prevail, in all situations. I would just tuck the emotions away and soldier on.
I recall, as a teenager being hit by a motorcycle. I had been walking down an alleyway with a friend and someone we knew was riding a motorcycle down the alley where we were travelling. As he knew me, he started to play a little game of chicken. Turning in each direction to pretend he was going to hit me, when he got close I moved to the side and he inadvertently moved to the same side. He hit me dead on, and panic prevailed. My best friend was with me, and started to laugh hysterically. She was in shock, and unable to process what had happened. The young man who hit me started to panic, and worry about his own situation as he didn’t have a driver’s license. I remember laying there for a moment, realizing that I could not move my leg. My normal cooler head started to direct traffic, even as I lay in a heap on the ground. When you calm down, I said to my friend then I need you to run and get a parent to take me to the hospital. To him, I said that might have been one of the dumbest moves you will ever make.
When I met my first love in high school, I held my emotions so tight that he jokingly said that my theme song should be “Foreigner’s cold as ice”. And when he died in a tragic car accident shortly after high school, I sat at the funeral and would not allow myself to cry. I was afraid that if I started that I would unravel and not be able to pull it together again. So instead, I became reluctant to get close for fear that I would be hurt again. I existed in a state of numb for sometime, keeping busy to avoid processing how I felt.
My motto was “I am fine” and I would soldier on.
The reality is though we are only kidding ourselves, people see through the masks we create. I know that if we are honest with ourselves, we normally see the person behind the mask. People saw through my mask constantly, random strangers have always told me their problems. It happened so frequently, that my family used to joke about it. What do you have a “Psychiatrist sign on your forehead? Why do people just pour their hearts out to you?
It never bothered me, in fact I loved that they had the courage to be so vulnerable. I admired them for it. And I realize now, that we all see the broken little parts of one another, if we are looking close enough. They probably saw mine, and I saw theirs. They knew they were in friendly territory and decided to trust in that.
But now as I get older, I want the younger people who I know and love to embrace their emotions. To allow their emotions to be on the surface when they need them to be. To feel their emotions and let them go. To have the courage to let people see them, and if someone is bent on hurting them for that then they are the one with the problem, not you. We don’t need to soldier on alone; sometimes we just need a soft shoulder to lean on.
Reiki and other energy work has taught me this. It is not healthy to stuff those emotions down, and not allow an avenue for them to be released. Almost thirty years after the motorcycle accident, I was receiving a rebalancing massage treatment from a friend. When she massaged one area of my body, I became rigid with fear. She asked if I was okay, and I could barely speak. The entire incident with the motorcycle accident was replaying in my mind. It was like it was happening all over again and every bit as frightening. Proof positive to me that our bodies store our unprocessed emotions, until we allow for them to be released.
What I know now is that it is okay to be seen in all your vulnerability. In fact, you may just find that your relationships are all the richer for it. And with the state of the world, who couldn’t use a little more of that.
And so, I want you to know that I am Okay. In fact, I may be better than ever. I am not coming apart at the seams; in fact I may just be coming together. And the rock is not crumbling; it is merely changing its shape with time.
And so with trembling hand, I submit to you my vulnerability and a little piece of my heart.