I’m learning to embrace vulnerability.
Several months ago I realized that I’m not good at vulnerability. For those who know me best, this probably wasn’t a shock. I’m the guy others are vulnerable with. But I’m always fine. Even when I say “I’m great,” what I mean is “I’m fine.” Since we were all designed to live deeply connected to others, my lack of vulnerability represents a break from who I truly am. The walls I’ve built to protect my heart aren’t supposed to be there. But I wonder what’s behind them?
At first, I suspected there might be a tremendous amount of pain behind my defenses. As I lowered them, I anticipated waves of dramatic emotion, surges of long avoided pain or a flood of locked up grief. Though I have experienced a bit of those things, “dramatic” isn’t exactly an appropriate word to describe the bits and pieces of pain that have surfaced.
No. My invulnerability, at least so far, doesn’t appear to have been a strategy to hide un-dealt-with pain. My walls have instead served to protect me from my fear. Apparently, I greatly fear trusting male authority with my plans, dreams and destiny. Behind the walls I am a step-son, convinced that I’m on my own, that I must manage on my own, handle things on my own, make it happen on my own.
For me, my path of learning vulnerability involves taking risks. I’m sharing the things that are stirring in me about my tomorrows with those who have the power to refuse to help me, to not be there, to not believe in me. So far they have each surprised me. Not a step-dad in the bunch. Go figure.