I’m vulnerable, you’re vulnerable, we’re all vulnerable–and it’s OK

One of the things I struggle with is feeling and allowing anger in myself and others. A friend or family member posts something political or hateful on Facebook. I can feel a reaction arising immediately in my body. It’s a mix between what feels like their contraction and my aversion to it. It also can sometimes feel like their opinions are a slap to my own beliefs. It’s hard and it’s challenging and it still needs tender loving care to digest this into a place where I can feel compassion for both of us.

A couple of days ago Robin at Breezes of Dawn wrote a post titled A Monday Meander: Vulnerability Please detour over and visit her post if you haven’t read it. It prompted me to want to explore vulnerability so much more. About why, when and how we learn to share our most intimate selves with the world. Perhaps even about when it’s more advisable to keep our treasured fears and secrets inside.

When I started blogging years ago I was afraid to post anything that felt too vulnerable–like the first paragraph I just typed about anger. To shine light on fears or confusion or awkwardness in the public realm. Something inside was fearful: you will see who I really am and not like me. You will see I’m not a polished invulnerable put-together person. You will see my confused, not-knowing, hot mess, silly, stupid, awful, compulsive, angry, wild sides and you will say–no, not her, I am not like her. You will run away. Or worse–you will try to fix me instead of listening compassionately.

We humans learn to wear masks from an early age. We painstakingly put makeup on over our flaws. We learn how to act (and how not to act) from society and don our personas to best advantage. We’re taught it’s not OK to feel or act on the raw messy human feelings that all of us experience.

We put so many of our “unacceptable” feelings in a Pandora’s box and lock it away deep within the human psyche. Goodbye everything that doesn’t look good to others. Hello human approval. We often try to fix ourselves endlessly, to get rid of the gnarly parts of self that just feel wrong. Or we’ve locked away and lost the key so long ago that we’re not even aware of our vulnerabilities. We want to be like those shining other people with their put-together beautiful lives. Not little old me with warts and moles and unacceptable thoughts and feelings.

Oh, dear human, it’s a challenging journey we take on this spinning blue and green planet. I believe the spiritual journey can open us up to something much larger than our human woes and reveal a Oneness that envelops us like a warm loving mother. Then this same spiritual force gently points us back to all those unacceptable unresolved undigested locked-away feelings and whispers, “Now it’s time. Now it’s time to begin to open your heart to all that’s yet unresolved.”

And it feels so vulnerable to peer inside as the demons arise! Yet we begin to do the messy work of actually looking at these repressed feelings. Being with them. We ourselves become a mother to ourselves whispering, “Here, here, you too can exist” as the emotions arise with their kicking, screaming, whimpering energy. Then we sometimes, if we’re lucky, watch the demons turn into hurt banished little children suddenly welcomed into the conscious parts of our human psyches.

Our hearts start to open. Slowly, slowly, we’re able to sit with the reclaimed energies. Slowly, slowly, we’re able to sit with the challenging energies of others. Slowly, slowly, we’re even perhaps called to speak about in public. To be vulnerable with others. To share that we’re all the same: we’re beautiful and we’re home to the world’s lost and hurting children.

Should we speak our vulnerabilities in public? No, no, no–not until we’re ready. Not until they are ready to be spoken. Our vulnerabilities often need time, space, incubation. We need to become comfortable enough with them before sharing with others. Maybe we’ll gather enough courage to share with a close friend one fine November day. Maybe we’ll only want to share with safe friends our entire lifetime. Do not ever rush opening your heart publicly. I have done that in the past, and it can be heart-wrenching to hear others knife, dissect and try to fix your most tender intimate parts.

Some of you may remember the dyad process that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Opening up and speaking from the heart in a sacred and protected container is a wonderful way to bring forth all the boogeymen who want to see the light of the Holy.

The work sometimes feels never-ending to me. Spirit keeps showing where light wants to shine next. Some areas feel impossible–like they will never break through to the light. Other areas have opened to reveal the Holy in full glory. There is a lot I do not share publicly. I am always trying to listen carefully to what wants to be revealed and what still needs incubation and quiet solitude.

Please share any of your thoughts or experiences about vulnerability if you’re called. ❤

Day 32 of a seventy-five day journey to connect more deeply with God, Spirit, Holy, Love…to explore “What the Heart Knows” during the waning days of 2020.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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31 Responses to I’m vulnerable, you’re vulnerable, we’re all vulnerable–and it’s OK

  1. Larissa says:

    I will see your confused, not-knowing, hot mess, silly, stupid, awful, compulsive, angry, wild sides and I will say “Thank God, she’s just like me!” ❤

  2. Robin says:

    Deep gratitude for this, Kathy. Thank you. ❤

    I think I must have missed your post on the dyad process? Not sure. I'll go look. It's one of the things I miss from the yoga class (my partner and I stopped shortly after that part of the course ended although we still keep in touch via email).

  3. Debbie says:

    I think some are way better at camouflaging their deepest feelings than others are. And maybe that’s a good thing. After all, how many people do you really want knowing you that intimately? Still, I do believe we have a need for somebody to understand us deeply, to appreciate us fully, to accept us unconditionally. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t find that in this lifetime but will have to content ourselves to knowing it will happen in our Life to come. Well-written, thought-provoking post, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Debbie, I am glad you enjoyed this post. It was another difficult one to write–to write it from the heart. You are right about many who can camouflage their feelings more easily. And there are some ways I feel uncomfortable when people just express their deepest darkest feelings in a public way. For me it has to be an expression that points towards others opening their hearts in a healthy way. When I or others express vulnerability its goal is to open other’s hearts so their camouflage isn’t so heavy, perhaps.

  4. Barb says:

    I’m agree with Debbie – “how many people do you really want knowing you that intimately?” Self exploration is ongoing, but I really don’t think many other people want to hear what I uncover…. In this electronic age when everyone is confessing something, I try to understand my innermost feelings but keep them to myself or for only a few to hear. Of course, the Oneness of Spirit knows all.

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, that’s been my preference for years, too. Just sharing intimately with a few close friends. That feels healthiest and most satisfying. I have admired authors over the years who are willing to show up with their whole selves rather than just their conventional selves, but have not had the courageous to do so until now. But it can’t just be about confessing–it has to be more of an energy that encourages others to open any closed parts of their own hearts, whether publicly or with a dear close listening friend.

  5. leelah saachi says:

    SO SO important post – important to digest and recognize, and how liberating that you/anyone post like this, and that the compassion shines through like it does

  6. Ally Bean says:

    I was much more closed when I started writing my blog, both in the sense of what I published and the comments I left on other people’s blogs. Now I say more things openly, but do keep pieces of myself for myself. I also comment more freely, but in the last few years I’ve found that newer bloggers don’t seem to appreciate comments like we old-timers do. I don’t know if they fear being vulnerable or if it’s the times in which we live. [Or maybe they don’t like what I’ve said.] Still if you don’t make yourself vulnerable you’ll never figure out who you really are.

    • Kathy says:

      Very interesting–your observation about the new generation of bloggers. This would be an interesting study! It’s also fascinating how we’ve both changed and grown over the years. I love your last sentence about how vulnerability helps us figure out who we really are. Yes!

  7. aFrankAngle says:

    We live in crazy times. I know the late 1960s were crazy – but on a different level than day. (For anyone reading this, yes, I lived those years.) Today’s world is so in-your-face … no discussion, just agreeing and disagreeing. Heck, we can’t even agree on the facts.

    That said, today causes us to re-evaluate many things. Personally, if someone writes/promotes stuff that I strongly disagree with, I don’t read it – let alone comment. I chose to hang-around the respectful. Challenging times bring challenging decisions. Here’s something I wrote as a guest blogger in late September … and to me, it shows vulnerability. (No … I don’t expect you to read it) https://sorryless.com/2020/09/27/america-2020/

    • Kathy says:

      These are crazy times, Frank. I just went over and visited the post you wrote in September. It was good–and wise–and yes, vulnerable. It’s sometimes so hard to post what we believe in when the country and world is so divisive. Thanks for reading and sharing this.

  8. Stacy says:

    Oh, you human, you!

    I don’t share openly in public. If it’s a vulnerability, it’s always veiled. I feel as though at some point, someone will use it against me, so I keep it close and share privately.

    I have a lot to learn from you. XOXO

    • Kathy says:

      And I do not encourage you–or anyone to share publicly–only if the Holy insists. (And I don’t think the Holy will insist until you’re 100% willing and ready.)

  9. Kathy, I’ve been thinking about this post since yesterday and feeling like I had nothing to say. I kept asking myself, when was the last time I felt vulnerable? Emotionally, it’s been many years, but then it hit me, I have been feeling very physically vulnerable lately. Like, what will become of me if my husband dies before I do? Will my colitis get so bad I will need surgery and an ostomy bag? Will I catch COVID-19 and die gasping for breath? Will I get dementia like my grandmother and wind up confused and misunderstood? And now that I’ve written all that, perhaps I worry that this will reveal me to be a terribly self-absorbed person.

    I shared my autism diagnosis on my blog back in 2017 and the comments I got were very supportive. My family has been nothing but supportive. So I feel very lucky about that. However, I have never mentioned this on Facebook and would never dare to. Facebook doesn’t feel like a safe place no matter what. I am glad I have my husband to talk to, and I do share everything with him, good, bad and ugly. He knows me, warts, wicked thoughts and all, and still loves me, which, to me, is nothing short of a miracle.

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, you don’t sound self-absorbed to me. These are the kinds of thoughts that seem to cross through when we reach a certain age and have health challenges. We really don’t know what’s going to happen. And it can be really scary. As to sharing on Facebook–I wouldn’t want to do that, either. It feels too personal, too scary, none of their business really. It has to feel like a safe space before I would ever share publicly. This blog feels like a safe space, whereas Facebook does not. And it’s interesting–I don’t always link my blog to Facebook for exactly that reason. If it’s something really personal Facebook isn’t going to get it. P.S. Love how you describe your relationship to your husband. A gift indeed. P.S.S. Thanks for having the courage to express this. I don’t think many people are called to be this vulnerable. P.S.S.S. Joan Tollifson is certainly not afraid to be vulnerable, is she? She talks about colostomy bags all the time. For some reason I feel very private about the whole digestive issues…

      • Joan Tollifson is so open and honest about all the nitty-gritty particulars of her cancer treatment struggles. I admire her! I grew up in a family where bodily functions and illnesses were discussed openly, and in great detail, which I now attribute to scientific curiosity. The first few times my husband heard some of these conversations he was horrified! I had to learn that most people feel very private about these things and don’t appreciate being asked for details about their ailments. And I had to learn not to “overshare” as my kids called it. 🙂 So when I read Joan’s latest book I was thrilled to have my curiosity for specifics satisfied.

        Thank you for making your blog a safe place.

        • Kathy says:

          How interesting that you were encouraged and welcomed to discuss bodily functions and illnesses in your family. It was not that way in our family at all. In fact people were praised who never talked about their ailments. Anyone who complained was frowned upon. (However, as my parents grew older this all shifted and changed and became OK.) I am pondering the differences between oversharing and vulnerability/honesty. Hmmm, more food for thought. And thank you so much for saying this blog is a safe space. xoxoxo

  10. Sarah Davis says:

    The first paragraph really resonated with me. I also fell similar anger. I have thought about this over the last several months. I’ve also realized how women are not allowed to show anger and are shamed or even penalized at work when they show anger, even if it is justified.

    In our culture vulnerability is seen as a weakness, not a strength. That is why so many comments are about safe spaces to show vulnerability. I just did something that was vulnerable, I really exposed myself to a group on purpose. So far, so good. I’ll wait a bit before I share with even more.

    • Kathy says:

      Sarah, we are certainly not encouraged to show anger. Men are more allowed to let ‘er rip but we’re supposed to contain and repress and be sweet little girls. Errr… As to vulnerability seen as a weakness, that is true, too. I admire writers and researchers like Brene Brown who are breaking down those stereotypes and showing that vulnerability can be the biggest strength instead. Congratulations on finding the strength to reveal yourself in that group. I really hope you feel heard and strengthened by it.

  11. Joanne says:

    This is one of those posts that I will continue to ponder after reading it.
    Right now, I can’t think of any vulnerabilities I have, but surely I must. If I do, I would be unlikely to share them publicly. Now I’m trying to consider whether I would discuss any vulnerabilities I have with someone close to me … still, I can’t think of any situation where that may happen. If I am pondering a question such as, what tiles should I choose for the splashback in my new kitchen, I will ask my daughters to go shopping with me. That’s hardly a vulnerability though.
    If I think of anything, I’ll get back to you. Really, I feel like I have nothing to contribute.

    • Kathy says:

      I am smiling. I know several loved ones who might say the same as you about vulnerabilities. Why do some of us feel we have vulnerabilities and others don’t? It might go back to your previous comment about how we’re all so different. My mom used to say I was “too sensitive for your own good”. Wondering if sensitive people feel more vulnerable? No answers here either!

      • Joanne says:

        I think sensitive people are very vulnerable, Kathy. I used to be super-sensitive. At some point though, I began to accept that everyone is fighting their own battles, and that’s when I began to realise that when a person said something cruel, or acted badly towards me, I should quickly assess whether I deserved the treatment. Had I done something that from their point of view may have been hurtful? If I had, I would apologise. If I hadn’t, I knew they were having a bad day. Sadly though, I have also come to realise that some people are having a bad life! But we cannot be responsible for the happiness of all people who cross our paths. As strange as it sounds, I have also learned that some people are content living in what I regard as misery, and what right do I have to tell them they are wrong, and should be happy, like me? I have no right, so I just let people be.

        • Kathy says:

          Thank you for sharing this. This is really wise, and there is something I still need to learn here. There is still a part of ego that can get hurt easily, even when the mind logically knows the other person is having a bad day. This is why I keep writing blogs such as letting people be who they are–to try and wrap the mind around letting people be and recognizing what is my responsibility and what is theirs. xoxo

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