Vulnerability gets a bad rap. Somewhere along the line we equated vulnerability with weakness - I know I did - but I don’t anymore. It’s taken a while (um, like 40+ years?), but I now think of vulnerability as the most honest, authentic and ballsy a person can be.
Some of us consider showing vulnerability only in a “safe” environment, which I assume means having the confidence in knowing the other person will love you anyway as if being vulnerable is showing a chink in your armor. I used to think that, too. And during the last year, I have thought there are very few people with whom I could be vulnerable and weak and broken.
I was wrong. I realized (only recently) that I was assuming their love for me was conditional (always the recovering Catholic!), that they only loved my strong, confident pieces. What I have come to understand is that some just didn’t know how to relate to me sometimes, but that didn’t mean that they liked me less. In these moments I realized I was projecting my conditional love of myself onto them. Damn.
I know I’m not alone in admitting that I’m hardest on myself. I have to work actively on the self-talk in my head and in accepting - and loving - myself without condition. This is really new for me and not how I am naturally wired. I am programmed for good and bad, pride and shame, and so much guilt. It’s no wonder that separating myself from others in a culture of comparison leaves a scar, eh?
I don't want to come out of this tougher. Stronger yes, but not tough. I've always been tough and determined and fierce. Not bad, and actually I'm proud of the progress made under those labels. But this time, I want to emerge softer, more compassionate and resilient. I don't need to be tough and hard and alone. I can be soft and kind and in community. Yeah, I think I'll be that.
I now think of it as an honor when someone shares their soft, vulnerable side with me either as a friend or in a coaching session. That person is allowing themselves to be truly seen and trusting me to love them all the same. My hope here is two-sided: dare to be more authentic and vulnerable in your relationships while allowing the space for those in your life to share in that same way.