Vulnerable. Weak. Exposed. Defenseless. What comes to mind when you hear these words? Something ugly right? Something to shy away from. Something dirty. We ALL have thought that way at one time or another during our lives. It is always…Be the best…do better…hide all traces of weakness…do not let them see you struggle. I think Elsa from Frozen sums it up best. “Conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know.” (Unless you have been hiding under a rock the last year, you get the reference.) Elsa spent most of the movie hiding her powers because she thought it was a great weakness of hers. She felt different and like an outcast. She hid a vital part of who she was, because she felt like others wouldn’t understand.
How often do we do that? I do it ALL THE TIME. I have seen and experienced some very ugly truths about this world. Because of that, I formed a wall at a very young age. A very high. very thick, very strong wall. And I prided myself in that wall. It was impervious, which then made me impervious. For years it served me well. It protected me from things that I could not yet comprehend. Saved me from heartache and disappointment. And it saved me from myself. My wall did what I constructed it to do. It separated me from my feelings and from any possible chance of getting hurt.
It took me years to realize that my beautifully constructed wall wasn’t protecting me. It was enslaving me. I hadn’t built a wall. I had built a jail cell. I didn’t realize that each of those hand crafted bricks I laid, were not preparing me for an imminent attack. They were promising incarceration designed by my own two hands. My bricks were forged each time I hid my feelings. Every time I refused to show my vulnerability. Every time I dismissed feelings of fear or despair.
I remember one night, being out with a bunch of girlfriends. We were having fun, laughing and talking. Then something triggered a memory. Something from my past, that I prefer to leave in the past. That memory though led to crying…in public…something I never do. It wasn’t the sweet crying, it was the heaving sobs kind of crying. The kind where you hyperventilate, make gross noises and have giant snot balls streaming out of your nose. I was a hot mess. Want to know what was running through my head? “Oh my goodness, they can’t see me like this, suck it up…suck it up…suck it up” And that made me cry more. I was surrounded by girls who I shared my life with. We shared secrets and laughs. We shared so many things, why could I not share my tears? I cried for a good 15 minutes then took another 10 to be able to talk like a semi-normal person. And you know what? They didn’t think less of me. They weren’t disgusted by me. They loved me and embraced me, and helped me through. I was so afraid of what they might think of me if they saw me like that. Scenes like that have always been one of my greatest fears.
AND THAT IS RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Things need to change. First and foremost in my life, but I think in our society as well.
Its not normal for me to cry in front of my husband and I have never cried in front of my children. I have always viewed crying as a solo sport. And that is a shame. I truly think I have been doing them a great disservice by not letting them see me emotional. They need to see everyone has moments of weakness…AND IT IS OK…And when we see someone who is upset or hurting, we need to show love and extend a hand to help them up, not push them down. We need to show compassion to those who are hurting, and we need to allow others to comfort us when we are hurting. We teach them by example. If they see we have vulnerable moments, they in turn will feel it is acceptable for them as well. When they see we do not shun another person in their time of weakness, but rather embrace them, then in the future, they will do the same.
In refusing to allow my weaknesses to be seen, I had forbidden myself access to my life, to love and true happiness. Without struggles, how can we appreciate triumph? Without sorrow, appreciate joy? Without heartache and vulnerability, how can you truly understand love? And weakness…how can you possibly understand strength without knowing tears and failure? We need to trust our family and friends enough to show them all aspects of our being. We need to show the world, strength isn’t never being hurt or heart broken. True strength is when you are so broken you aren’t sure you can find all your pieces, but still picking them up, and moving forward. It is loving, when you feel unloved. Serving when no one has served you. Strength is acknowledging and accepting all parts of yourself, including your feelings.
I think the greatest injustice we could do to the next generation…to our children…to ourselves, would be ignoring our short comings and failing to share them with others. Imperfections and weaknesses add color and vitality to the woven blanket we call life. I think the most beautiful flowers spring from the ugliest of places. Flowers can not thrive in constant sunshine, and neither can we. Accept it and embrace it. Love others in their hour of need, and love yourself and let others love you in yours. I have realized the only way I could escape my self made prison, was to voluntarily allow people to walk in. To allow them to see the parts of myself I had hidden from the world for so long.
The only way I could truly be free, was to be vulnerable. My vulnerability gave me the strength to open my cell door and walk through it, on to my life.