“Being vulnerable doesn’t have to be threatening. Just have the courage to be sincere, open and honest. This opens the door to deeper communication all around. It creates self-empowerment and the kind of connections with others we all want in life. Speaking from the heart frees us from the secrets that burden us. These… secrets are what make us sick or fearful.” -Sara Paddison
For many of us, this is probably one of life's biggest lessons. And, if you're anything like me, it's a lesson we struggle to accept.
Just like you, life has thrown me some incredible, seemingly random curve balls. Individually, they read as isolated incidents, with few common threads or unifying themes, but now that I am open to seeing the lessons, I see a distinct commonality.
During each of these crises, I was FORCED by the universe to become vulnerable to such an extreme that I had to ask for help and accept it from those who care about me. Sometimes I was forced to my knees by a physical inability to care for myself; I had to let others help clothe me, bathe me, care for my most intimate needs. Sometimes I was so completely emotionally incapacitated that I had to hold fast to the lifelines offered by a handful of trusted friends and loved ones in order to avoid being sucked completely down the drain of my emotional anguish.
These crises have humbled me to the core, at times leaving me shattered and crying, unable to engage in even the most simple functions of life. Yet every time, when I was forced to hand myself over to the care of others who love me, I was cared for with tenderness and respect. I passed through each experience with a stronger sense of how much I was loved and a little further along the path towards learning to be vulnerable.
Showing vulnerability is difficult for me. I am a strong, confident woman. I am the caretaker and nurturer of my tribe. I am the one others lean on for support, not the other way around. I am not a victim; I don’t want to be the needy one. I don’t want to take more than I give. I have 'it all figured out,' and I am the 'can-do' girl. But at my core, deep down under all these layers of image, I am tender and raw and scared, just like everyone else.
So, I keep on a few layers of protection to protect my tender heart. A lot of the time, that toughness is a great asset. But, little by little, in appropriate situations and with people I trust, I am learning to shed the layers and reveal my truth. As I peel away each layer of self-protection, I am beginning to feel the universe with amazing clarity: I feel all of it, deeply. A lot of the time, it threatens to overwhelm me and then my tendency is to pull the protective layers back around me, but I am learning to sit with the feeling of being exposed, to really experience these moments of vulnerability.
And you know what I am learning? That being vulnerable requires amazing strength. In its truest form, it is not at all a demonstration of weakness, but a precious gift we give ourselves and those we love.
By exposing our most tender parts, trusting that they will be held gently, honored,and respected, we not only SHOW people how much we love them, but ALLOW them to show us how much they love us. -Kimberly Mahr
It is also teaching me how to be tender with others when they are vulnerable.