Vulnerability is the capability of being physically or emotionally wounded, according to Merriam and Webster.
Suffice it to say, it’s a hard place to be. Who wants to be hurt? Who wants to be wide out in the open for pain and suffering, just standing there waiting to accept whatever life throws at them? Nobody, right?
But we should be. Why? That’s a good question. Because the statements “Pain is weakness leaving the body” and “No pain, no gain” are disgustingly accurate.
Think about it this way: When you work out, your purpose is to build muscles and to grow stronger. Yet the very way in which we build the muscles is by first breaking them down, destroying them, and then causing them to revitalize and recuperate, thus making them bigger and stronger.
The same holds true with life. We must occasionally encounter pain and suffering to learn how to live. We must be broken down to nothing in order to learn how to pick ourselves back up and to continue on in our life journey.
One of the biggest ways we make ourselves vulnerable is in our relationships with others — family, friends, romance, whatever kind of relationship you have with another person must involve a degree of vulnerability in order to fully grow. Without openness and vulnerability, the relationship cannot grow as it should.
Think about your best relationships. Are they the ones in which each exchange was trivial and petty, and revolved around more gossip and current news than deep and meaningful discussions or conversations? I’m going to take a wild guess that you probably said no. That’s because the deeper a relationship grows, the deeper you allow the other persons into yourself, into your mind, and into your past. THAT is vulnerability. Being able to let someone get so close to you that they know you inside and out. Vulnerability also demands reciprocity; it cannot be one-sided.
And at this point you’re probably thinking “That’s great, Virginia, but where are you going with this?”
I was thinking about this the other day as I was realizing that vulnerability is a struggle for me. I tell people I “wear my heart on my sleeve,” but after being too open (at least that’s how I saw it) in the past, I think I have become much more guarded. Probably too guarded, in fact. I have no problems with my girl friends and my platonic relationships, but I think my past experience with the constant one-side love affair has jaded my view of romance in a way. It’s as if I have this mental block that I’ve put up to guard myself from falling in “crush” with a man who will never feel the same for me. That’s not altogether a bad thing, as crushes also alter our perception of reality. But the problem comes when you realize that the time has come to let that wall crumble. That perhaps it’s time for you to open up again — and you realize you’ve forgotten how. You’ve forgotten the balance between too guarded and too open. And your default is to be too guarded.
People won’t try to push too long before giving up, and the only person who can change anything is me. I’m the only one who can let people into my head, my heart, and even my soul. Once they’re there, I’ve heard it’s amazing.
But am I brave enough to let them?