When vulnerability is your dance partner

image by Kinga Cichewicz at unsplash

image by Kinga Cichewicz at unsplash

I spend a lot of time helping people get really intimate with the ways that vulnerability operates in their lives. 

We're talking down and dirty, full-body mud-wrestling, rather than a limp, politely offered handshake.

Today, my friend and colleague Petra Velzeboer, pressed a button, and the conversation we recorded months and months ago, is live on the inter webs, as part of her 'Adversity to Advantage' podcast.

Crazy fool that I am, I chose to share my infertility story as my adversity. 

Just a little light press of a button with Petra's index finger (I say this for dramatic effect, I didn't actually check...) and a part of my story and sharing out there, for folks to hear, should they feel inspired to listen.

And not the tidy tale where I've got it all under control, either. 

It's so much easier to share the carefully crafted image of the identity we've created for ourselves, who we think we should be, with carefully edited thoughts and opinions.

It's much, much harder, to let people see the parts we wish they wouldn't see. 

Blimey, sometimes it's hard to admit them to ourselves.

The things we're really thinking.

What we're really feeling. 

Especially if they're 'unpopular' feelings. Envy, hostility, disgust, disappointment, shame.

The old me would rather have eaten my own head than let anyone know that I felt anything less than rainbows-and-unicorns most of the time.

The current me has learned though, that letting people see us, real and messy, in process, alive and (like all of us) finding our way through this crazy, beautiful world, is the only way to go if we want to create a deeper connection.

And trying to edit my truth is like trying to squeeze a normal sized foot into a teeny tiny Cinderella glass slipper.

Uncomfortable, impossible, unnecessary and painful.

I've learned that when I hide parts of myself in order to fit in, or look better to others, I'm betraying myself and I'm not helping the people in my life know who I am, really, either.  Hiding, if you like.

Healthy vulnerability is about my willingness to be seen, in the ways that I choose to share, and with the people I trust enough to tell my story. Or - in this case - in being willing to be known by whomever listens, just-as-I-am. 

(We do need a good support network, I've learned. The ability to call on people who will champion and cheer us on, tell us the truth, love us in our imperfectly perfectness.)

When I'm not feeling rainbows and unicorns, I'm able to use the feelings from what's difficult, edgy or not-what-I-want, as creative rocket fuel to write a new story for myself.

I am the person who stopped wishing wistfully for the life she thought she should be living, and started living and creating from the one she was actually in.

Turning round the unwanted, to face the wanted. 

Denying that stuff just keeps us stuck and small, with no room to expand, transcend, evolve.

So listen if you must.