The Icky Truth About Vulnerability.

“Sometimes flailing and feeling endlessly uncomfortable are exactly what you need to feel.” ~ Dawn Serra

Thinking about vulnerability today. That scary act of going first with your truth; of opening up to someone; of revealing your pain, your insecurity, your desire, your secret, and not knowing how it will be received.

Yesterday I led a women’s circle on emotional labor. I let some of my messy truth out. It wasn’t so much what I said that’s bothering me today – I share details of my life pretty freely and find a lot of value and connection in that act. It’s what I showed that has me feeling, well, vulnerable today – the raw emotion behind my words, the pained voice, the tears I was holding back…I showed I was in pain. I showed I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing so why would anyone look to me as someone who has answers?? I showed I don’t got this.

So today I’ve been feeling embarrassed about it. Nervous. Regretful. Chastising myself a little for becoming ‘so emotional’ and wondering what the other women must be thinking of me. I thought opening up was supposed to feel good! What the hell, Brene Brown?? You said this would connect me to others! All I want to do is hide!

Vulnerability is messy. It’s complicated. It doesn’t always feel great, even when you’re in a ‘safe space.’ Yesterday the women in the circle were amazing. They bared witness to my pain and never made me feel foolish, and yet today, I’m making myself feel that way…

Vulnerability is scary. No one wants to appear weak. We are allowed to struggle, sure, but not too much and not for too long. We want to be in control or at least appear like we are. We want to move to solution or resolution in a timely fashion. That’s the disease of our culture – productivity at all times!

What happens when we continue to struggle? When things are just not easy for a long time? Do we continue to reach out? Do we continue to open up when people have already heard it? Do we learn to sit in that uncomfortable space of non-resolution? Or do we withdraw and isolate for fear that our pain and our struggle is “too much” and won’t be tolerated by other people? I’m worried about the people who think, “No. Nobody wants to hear the truth from me again.” I’m worried about myself getting to that point.

I don’t have answers or solutions. I am unbelievably grateful that I have places where I can get real, drop my mask, and find support. I hope these places and the people who occupy them will stay. Stay and remain open with me in the discomfort. Stay in the awkward feeling with me where things aren’t getting better yet…No one teaches us how to do that. We have to feel our way into this space; this territory of revelation without answers or sometimes understanding. Maybe just having this space, by simply allowing this icky space to exist, we can find some ease. Make a little room for our pain to just be.

All we have to offer is the messy truth. I’ll show you mine and you can show me yours.

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