What does vulnerable mean to you?
Weak? Defenseless? Helpless? Exposed?
For me it has always been a negative word. As of today, I can tell you that I now view the word as a positive. Yes, I will unlock the door, remove any barriers and let people in without worrying about being weak and defenseless.
How much stronger can we be together when we feel ‘safe’ to share. To really share. To touch on emotions that emerge from somewhere yet nowhere? Let’s empathize with one another, even with people we don’t know and better yet with people we do know.
WAIT! STOP! I do NOT mean to literally go out and start being vulnerable with everyone or anyone. The paragraph above is more a rhetorical thought than a call to action.
I view myself as a very non-emotional person. I spent many years in a professional position where it was unprofessional to show vulnerability. It showed weakness. Nobody likes a cry baby at work. Or maybe it was just how I got through the tough times. Gotta have a stiff upper lip girl! I guess it could just be built in with DNA.
When my heart and soul got to heavy with emotions they started to leak out. I refused to go ‘to the weak side’! I did what all big girls do I just grabbed a beer. Who can really continue to feel after the alcohol sets in?
However, my opinion of vulnerability changed during the memoir writing retreat I am attending in Vermont. The first day was about being vulnerable enough to write your memoir. Yes, there is lots of sharing of personal stories and lots of tears. What bonds women together more than a few tears shed between strangers?
I realized on that very first day that I have a lot of emotions; not only from recent events but from long past events, that still touch my soul. Emotions that still rock the core of my being. Events that I did not know were connected to such emotions.
These things that I was being asked to write about certainly were not topics I had ever discussed with anyone. And when alone, if they started to creep out and be up front and center in my brain….Ah just grab a beer, it’s beer thirty time anyway.
As we were getting started with all this emotion stuff, one of our first exercise was to write a 3-sentence memoir.
Sure, I got this!
I’m moving along. I have 3 examples completed and my last one read:
My mind is now blank.
I hate showing feelings.
May I please have a smoke and a beer.
No, I did not get up and shut down these very important emotions with a beer. But, I was exhausted by the end of that day. My head hurt and my eyes burned.
We wrote and then we shared what we wrote. We passed around the tissue box and we touched someone’s shoulder with empathy.
It is truly amazing to learn that what we might call a small event in our lives can evoke such big emotions.
This has truly been a life changing retreat for me.
These ladies are wonderful, intelligent and beautiful!
My journey into vulnerability metropolis does not come to an end with this retreat is over. It is a job requirement. Not only to write authentically but to heal past pain and reintegrate it into the wholeness of my being.
I retired from my traditional job to explore, practice, and create stories for people of all ages.