In my last blog, which was quite some time ago, I was all about exploring my vulnerability. You’ll be happy to know that I’m over it now. I’ve learned that vulnerability is perfectly fine when one is alone. Add other people and you have to be tough.
By it’s very definition vulnerability makes you “susceptible to emotional damage.” People hurt you when you make yourself vulnerable. You let them see your weak spots and they poke at them. You tell them your thoughts, feelings and wishes, and they stomp on them. They tell you not to feel that way. They ignore what makes you sad or upset. They get pissed off when you tell them they hurt you, and they hurt you some more. It’s just not worth it.
I am now convinced that being tough was, is, and always will be the way to go. They say, however, that if you’re tough, and don’t share your feelings, you will never have true intimacy because holding back entails maintaining a certain amount of emotional distance. But I’ve found that when I make myself susceptible to emotional damage, um…guess what? People damage me emotionally. And when that happens, I distance, in a big way–a much bigger way than if I make myself big, brave, and scary in the first place.
The problem is, most of last year, when I was alone, I became exceptionally good at being vulnerable. I got used to it. And now, it’s harder than it used to be to buck up. I seem to have lost my Teflon coating somewhere between Mesa and Phoenix, and that just sucks. Maybe I need to spend a couple of months in New York and get re-sprayed.
Anyway, remember when I asked everyone to stop telling me to toughen up? I take it back. All reminders are now welcome.
Well, I am deeply moved. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Joanne. 🙂
I worry about the possibility of maintaining a loving relationship if there is a set of shinning armor amid the amore.
I love you, Irene. And I agree. We all want to think we’re perfect, but the truth is, we are all capable of being stupid, cruel, needy, clueless, self-absorbed and spiteful to varying degrees. In order to counteract those character flaws, we have to be capable of hearing how our actions affect the people we care about, be willing to help the repair any damage we create, and be invested enough to store the information for future reference. That takes a lot of work and in general, people are simply not up to it.
We don’t typically feel the bruised egos, insecurities, or needs of others. Well, maybe YOU do. I mean, I am talking to a person who gave up her kidney to help someone else. But I’m talking about your everyday average person.It’s difficult to stay vulnerable when the average person, friend, neighbor, colleague, family member, partner. whoever it is, doesn’t see the need to create a safe space for us to do so. Conversely, When WE are perpetrators of the damage, we must make that same effort.
So to your point, not only is it impossible to be perfect, it’s not necessary to be perfect and not necessarily good to be perfect. Just ready, able and willing to admit when we step on emotional toes and try to fix what we break. I am actively working on empathy – being quick to offer to repair damage when someone else perceives it as damage, whether I agree or not. Trust me, it’s hard to do. Maybe I’m putting so much effort into being that way for others, that I’ve become resentful when others don’t make it a priority to do that for me. So I feel like I have to revert back to being tough. Kelly Hitchcock made a good point in response to my last blog post, when she said “I think that happens to a lot of us who grow up in homes where we have to protect ourselves from our parents.”