Pull up a chair, sis. (And fellas too) This is exactly what it sounds like. Let’s get right into it.
Vulnerability. Man, look.
The simple mention of that word is enough to make me shift my weight and squirm in discomfort.
Allow me to explain: I consider myself to be, pretty much, an open book. Folks know that I share my experiences online---that I can be super transparent and often use my daily situations, accomplishments and failures to both express my humanity, and to encourage myself and others on this journey called life. Even with all the perceived negatives of social media, I’ve come to find that shared experiences make one feel less alone. To know that you’re not the only one going through life's challenges in the way that you are, can be a huge relief. At any rate, even with all of my so called “openness”, I still have the tendency to distance myself from certain situations that call for just that. What are they? You guessed it; matters of the heart.
First, let’s look at the definition of the V word. I can barely say it without flaring up my acid reflux.
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.
Bruh. Who the HELL wants to be that?
It is simply basic human instinct to strive, at all times, to protect ourselves. Even the homie Sigmund Freud said, that "the deepest essence of human nature consists of self-preservation."
What a mind f**k.
How in the hell am I supposed to self-preserve and seek love at the same damn time? And that, my friends, is the question I ask myself every day.
I have literally ruined great potential partnerships by my unwillingness to open up completely, in that regard. As caring of a person as I can be, when it comes to dealing with relationships with men, I have only allowed them to get but so far, until I feel myself falling. Then, I take a lap and trap myself behind this extensional, proverbial wall.
Now, this wall? It’s not like Cheeto Satan’s alleged wall, but it might be just as absurd. In my mind, it’s made of glass, so technically, I’m able to see bae on the other side, and he can see me. (hey boo!) We talk to each other, we send cute gifts and exchange texts and calls. Every now and again, I come out from behind it when it’s time to be intimate, but I always return to my side, and he’s simply not allowed to cross the line.
Not only can that make one look emotionally unstable and partially insane, it can also be truly exhausting for the other person to think for example, that he’s getting ready to play basketball, and then I show up with a hockey stick, some cleats and a relay baton, smiling. Girl, get your life.
The truth of the matter is, in order for me to truly love and be loved, that wall must come down. This is also not just a woman thing. I recognize that male vulnerability is a unique nuanced experience, that can be beautiful and just as difficult.
So, what does it ultimately boil down to, friends?
Jazmine Sullivan said it best: *sings* ‘’I’m not scared, of lions and tigers, and bears, but I’m scared of loving you.”
I feel you, sis. It be’s like that. We all know that when you lend your heart to another person, you're essentially giving them the ability to break it into a million bite sized pieces. One day, I’ll tell y’all the full story. but basically-- many moons ago-- a bright eyed and bushy tailed Grace entrusted her heart to someone. Needless to say, brotha man violated in the most horrific of ways, and I haven’t quite been the same since.
Therapy? Yes. I go. But a decade later, I realize that I am still subconsciously fearful of the possibility of being hurt to that degree ever again. That said, a more recent romantic situation has taught me how much I can lose if I don’t overcome this obstacle.
I've come to understand that you have to harness the power of the V. (no, not that V. Nasty… Although, that post may soon come) and let it work for you. Understand that:
1. Great things are on the other side.
You might get hurt, granted. That's life. But you also might flourish and find the great love that you’ve been yearning for. Discernment is key to deciding who and what to expose yourself to, but completely guarded emotions, cannot and will not work.
2. Self-Sabotage ain’t cute.
It doesn’t look good on you. Why push yourself further away from the things and people who are beneficial for you? As ambitious women especially, I have no doubt that we will go for the jobs, apply for the promotion-- but with love, we hesitate. Emotionally blocking yourself for the sake of safety is natural, albeit. But it can also be unproductive.
3. You’re worth it: Say it with me. Vul-ner-ability. You will literally get nowhere from behind a glass wall. In order to move forward in love and in life, you have to open yourself up. It might not always get you the answers you want, but you will have the ones you need.
If for the first time, or like me, again.
After all, Freud also said, “out of your vulnerabilities, will come your strength.”
It’s about time for me to take his-- and my own--advice.