Monday, November 29, 2010

The Power of Vulnerability

I’ve been struggling to write. My heart cries out for me to sit down and pull my feelings out to the written word, but I resist. I’ve started many blog posts in the last couple weeks, but never finish, never go as deep as they promise to take me.

I've had this video of social work researcher Brene Brown sitting on my computer for days. I didn't know exactly what it was. Someone posted it on Facebook and I was drawn to the description:

"...she has spent the past ten years studying a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness, posing the questions: How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough -- that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy?"

I was surprised, as much as she was, by what she learned.

The qualities of a wholehearted person:

Courage - Tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. Courage to be imperfect.

Compassion - Be kind to yourself first, which will result in kindness towards others.

Connection - As a result of authenticity. Let go of who you think you should be to be who you are.

Fully Embrace Vulnerability - What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.


It's the last one that really gets to me and it is the quality that she finds to be most important of them all...

Vulnerability - allowing ourselves to be fully seen, exactly as we are.

Two and a half years ago, right before I co-created The Impropriety Society, I made a commitment to myself and the Divine that I would live as open-heartedly as possible. To me this meant that I would choose to risk loving without knowing where it would lead and even if it led directly into heartache. I would express my love openly and I would say yes to every opportunity to love for my self or others.

I had come to this intent by participating in a brief but very intense relationship that also inspired a spiritual awakening. It was a spiritual connection, as much as intellectual and emotional. I chose to be as open as possible, despite my fears and the possibility of rejection. Ultimately she did reject me. But the experience of love that took place inside me made it all worth it. I felt more connected to everything.

I’ve learned that my heart cannot be broken in the traditional sense, it can be bent, beaten, misshapen, lost in the dark and cold, but never broken, never irreparable. And I have learned that the deeper I allow myself to go into love, no matter the outcome, the more love and joy I become capable of experiencing. Risking love in the face of suffering and allowing the heart to break open to deeper experiences of grief, empathy and compassion can lead to an awakened life.

And yet now, after experiencing such a difficult relationship with Knight over the last six months, I find myself afraid and withdrawn, struggling to be vulnerable again. I have new lovers, a married couple and a long-time friend with whom there has been a long unexplored spark, and I am struggling to be vulnerable to them with my feelings and desires.

“I suggest you study the relationship between what you want and what you have to offer.”
From Eric Francis’ Cancer Horoscope for 2010

What do I want? I desire to live an awakened life and I desire to live every moment of my life from the deepest experience of love a human being can know.

What do I have to offer? My vulnerability. My willingness to be seen, to be open, to risk for love. When I write here, it is from a place of vulnerability because I hope that by sharing my experience, my story, someone else may find something valuable for their own story.

What do I want from others, in relationship? Their vulnerability, their willingness to risk opening themselves to love, no matter where it leads.

What keeps us from vulnerability? Shame. Shame is a fear of disconnection and a belief that we are not worthy of connection/belonging/love. We think, "I am not _________ enough to belong." (Fill in the blank -- smart, beautiful, talented, wealthy, outgoing, charismatic, etc.)

I don't know that I have ever been as vulnerable as I was with Knight. We had an intimacy that was rare in my experience of relationships. And I feel that Knight rejected me in a very significant way when he shut down his heart to partnership with me. So vulnerability, being fully seen, is more frightening than ever. Will anyone stick around if they see the worst of me? Am I too emotionally unbalanced to be connect/belong/be loved? Allowing myself to be seen in entirety, especially my shadow and the challenges I have in managing my emotions, scares me very much.

I hope to find inside myself whatever it was that I found before that inspired me to choose open-heartedness. I desire to renew that commitment and to open my heart again, as fully as I'm capable. I desire to be fully seen - raw, wild, french kissing life and bleeding on the page with heart-opening vulnerability.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dearest April, you inspire me all over again to open my heart and be vulnerable. Thank you. Love to you.

(And the Captcha word I was just given is: Cries. How apt)