I've recently recognised that even the very word 'vulnerability' can still make me feel a little wobbly.
I learnt from a very early age to proffer a countenance of strength in whatever situation I found myself. It was the defence mode of operation I developed growing up in my family.
We all take on various roles and personas learnt in early days of childhood but some won't serve us too well as we enter adult years. My desire to show the world how strong I was became something of a thorn in my side as life's lessons continued to bombard me. The harder the lesson, the more I toughened up as if to say 'you can't hurt me - I'm too strong for that'. My toughness came in the form of warmth and friendliness too, so it was even harder for me to recognise. I strived (mostly unknowingly) to be there for everyone who needed me, smiling, friendly, bright as a button and always, always positive and optimistic. Always reliable, dependable and there for everyone. But even when I was resting and having fun, I was 'on guard!'
What's wrong with that you may ask? Sounds good and noble - doesn't it?
Yes, I agree that having a caring, warm and positive personality and manner can be a bonus, but it can also be a drain on one's energy if the person feels it's the only way that's 'right' to live life. I saw anything else as a weakness. Up until somewhere into my 50's, I rarely disclosed to anyone how I was (really) feeling. I often felt overwhelmed, confused, distressed and sad but I wouldn't let any of that on to those around me and especially not men. Although at the time I wasn't aware of it, the facade I'd erected was full of fear. I later learnt how little I trusted others with my true feelings and I learnt why.
Yes I'm a strong person. (I believe we all are).
Yes I'm a naturally friendly person with an interesting personality.
Yes I care deeply about others.
I showed up every day tough, strong and with a 'don't mess with me' attitude because deep down I was frightened of being seen as weak and, heaven forbid, vulnerable! OMG! NO! What would have happened (to me) if I'd showed vulnerability!
In retrospect and through a certain amount of wisdom I've garnered along the way, I now believe absolutely nothing 'bad' would have happened any differently. I got beaten up, hurt, dumped, abandoned, ignored, rejected and abused anyway. All the things I tried so hard to fight against occurred time and time again regardless. And guess what - I survived and, even flourished.
Not only did I flourish as I learnt about vulnerability and trusting others with my thoughts and feelings, but I learnt to be calmer and more confident in my ability to get through whatever life brought my way. I think maybe it's called inner strength, as compared to outer bravado and for me, it's been a much safer way of living each day.
I've recently taken on studies that require me to read and journal my way through a book about Loving Kindness and vulnerability and I noticed initially, my thoughts and feelings became a little apprehensive. But I now know it's ok and not a sign of weakness if I may cry and choose to show my true feelings, to myself or others. It actually takes strength and courage to come from the heart and not the head and I'm looking forward to my latest journey as Every Day Gets Better. I'll let you know how it goes. 😊