Dr. Brene Brown “The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I want you to see in me. Trying to remember to show up and be seen today!”
Being vulnerable as an adult is about feeling safe in the world. A friend shared this wonderful affirmation – In my world of loving, generous, joyful stable souls I am safe moving forward with my gifts and dreams. When I say the word “safe” my heart takes a giant leap. I have to breathe in I am safe, I am safe, I am safe. Now if only I could wave a magic wand and convince all of myself this is true life would be so different. Because those moments when I know that the world is safe life is wonderful.
By now I have learned that feeling vulnerable doesn’t have to hurt. Growing up with my father’s bullying behavior shaped my life and instilled a form of PTSD in me. I was not safe being myself and definitely felt alone. As an adult memories of abuse get triggered when I feel scared and alone. Then I feel powerless just like I did when I was a child. When I am caught by these anxieties I forget that I am no longer a child. Feeling vulnerable can send me into a panic and the anxiety builds. That’s when anxiety girl takes over to find a solution to whatever problem is causing me discomfort.
Most of my life anxiety girl was the mask I wore. When I was caught being her I was careful where I would be seen and often stopped myself from attending parties or other social events because of how vulnerable I felt. I would do anything rather than feel the anxiety. Besides hiding there were other remedies that I sought to soothe that anxiety. Anxiety girl was always hungry. Or if she wasn’t hungry she was thirsty. Anxiety girl always needed more escape routes whether it was FB games or reading science fiction. Soothing the anxiety was a full time job.
The good news is that the mask of anxiety is changing. Anxiety girl does not have such a strangle hold on me or my emotions. Instead of soothing her with substances, or escape I am writing more. Daily I am walking more out into the world with my heart open as I am safer being me. I can breathe when I take risks. Instead of fighting the powerless feeling I am accepting that there is a solution to feeling powerless. Instead of feeling alone, I am reaching for a power greater than me and feeling comforted by that power.
Today how I react to being vulnerable can change from day to day. Some days I still feel so vulnerable I can’t bear to be seen. Other days vulnerability is a powerful place that exists in me, a place that exists totally without fear. It’s just me being human walking out into the world heart open.
What do you think? What does vulnerability mean to you? How do you react to being vulnerable?