Originally posted December 14, 2013
Sometimes I go back and read through old blog posts from the many different blogs that I’ve created through the years. I started my first blog when I was just thirteen years old. Rarely did a person read them, but I wrote for me. I wrote because I needed to process, and the early posts were overflowing with angst. It’s fascinating to me to have something so tangible to remember how much my heart ached all those years ago.
This post that I’m sharing with you now was written only seven months ago. I was in the midst of one of the darkest periods of my life. I had just had my very first assessment for eating disorder specific residential treatment, and I felt overwhelmed. My heart was raw because I had just exposed so much of myself. Any pretense of being “okay” was gone after ending up in the emergency room only a few days prior. Despite all this, I still held on to hope. I recognized the power of choice. I was beginning to learn that strength and bravery often revealed themselves in the moments of utter weakness and pure exhaustion.
I didn’t know how much worse things would get before they got better, but they did eventually get better, and I suppose that’s what matters.
I’m still learning some of these lessons day after day…but in the moment that I wrote this blog, I was choosing life.
“You can choose comfort or you can choose courage. You can’t have both.”
~ Brene Brown
Finding yourself in a place where all pretences and facades have been stripped away – where compartmentalization is no longer an option – is quite possibly the most humbling experience a human being can have. To be raw, unguarded, and exposed is excruciatingly painful, yet I’m learning that maybe this is how we’re meant to live.
At least I’m learning that maybe this is how I am meant to live.
Vulnerability is uncomfortable. It is awkward, wearisome, and at times, downright distressing.
As I write this, I’m in a very vulnerable state. I feel naked, laid bare, and exposed before so many people. Everything that I used to hide has now been brought into the light. I’m not just talking a single person’s flashlight, either.
Part of embracing vulnerability has been a choice on my part. It started months ago when I began to let the walls down, little by little, experiencing emotions that I’d kept locked away for years – sitting with those feelings in the presence of another person. It started when I learned that leaning in to discomfort was the only way I was going to make any progress. In the past, I’ve come up against situations and circumstances similar to the ones I’ve been facing recently, and instead of opening up, I’ve shut down. Instead of leaning into and onto my supports, I’ve run away.
It has appeared, though, that throughout the course of these last few months, there have been a number of situations that have literally brought me to my knees. It’s been a form of vulnerability that I have fought against, but in the end, I lost the fight. It felt compelled and involuntary – and yet I still had a choice. I always have a choice. Would I be honest – revealing the darkest parts of myself, the parts that terrify even me – or would I cling to the pretence that I had everything under control, even though there was plenty of evidence to the contrary?
I chose honesty. I chose to embrace vulnerability even though it hurt like hell.
I’ve reached the point of pure exhaustion. I am drained of both physical and emotional energy, and I am void of the ability to compartmentalize. I can no longer keep all the areas of my life wrapped up neat and tidy in their own little boxes – separate. I can no longer maintain composure when I’m being overwhelmed with emotion; it spills out whether I’d like it to or not. I’m afraid of this place because it feels chaotic and out of control. It feels like I’m spinning out, but the reality is, I’m right where I need to be.
In times of deep pain and hurt, vulnerability feels terrible while simultaneously bringing great relief. People see you. Some people know you. Those people love you.
When I show up by bringing my full self to the table (both figuratively and literally), I’m actively choosing to engage in real relationships. I’m choosing to allow people the honour of walking alongside of me, rather than at arm’s length. I’m choosing to allow them to hold up my arms when I don’t have any strength left. I’m choosing to allow them to fight on my behalf, because they know my battles. They are intimately acquainted with my enemies, even if they may not fully understand them.
By embracing vulnerability, I have seen more people really show up for me than ever before. I think that’s because I’m showing up for them.
By embracing vulnerability, I have learned that I am not alone, no matter how alone I may feel.
It may be uncomfortable, awkward, messy, and distressing, but moreso, it’s refreshing, satisfying, and invaluable.
To be vulnerable is to be courageous.