We are fragile, our bones can break and our hearts can ache. There is this very sensitive aspect of human life, one that is often shunned and shamed, often with connotations of weakness and despair. Though toss the coin and see that through this delicate balance you find resilience and strength from the darkest corners of vulnerability.
What does it mean to be vulnerable? Vulnerability is that uneasy feeling of exposure, breaking down walls and barriers, letting in and letting go. Vulnerability is the emotion that sits at the core of fear, shame, disappointment, uncertainty, and grief. Often, it is our own judgement that holds us back. We armor up, we tell ourselves vulnerability is 'bad', we don't want to get hurt so we completely give up before we give in.
I'm that girl. The one who has dealt with insecurities from day one. The negative self talk used to consume me. My barrier was tall and dense. There was a wall I built to keep all emotions locked in and all vulnerability locked out.
I push people away to avoid the risk of rejection and judgement. I chose independence over relationships. Stability over chance.
Until one day...
Actually, it wasn't a day. It was a moment in time when everything stopped and the truth shined a light. I was walking through the park when I noticed an older man and his skinny, scroungy dog sitting at the bench near the rivers edge. Most people walk past, I smile and say hello. The look out was beautiful so I stopped to enjoy the view. I asked the stranger how his day was. Usually this is a superficial question, followed with a superficial answer. However, when I ask, I mean it. I want to know how is your day, how are you right now, in this moment. What is going on; emotionally, physically, spiritually? Where are you at?
Frank was his name and he could read my sincerity. His face was wrinkled and his eyes hung low, there was pain in his voice and sadness in his shaky hands. I asked how he was and the tears burst out. He cried. His sobs swallowed me whole. His wife of 50 years had just died and with it Frank became empty. We sat and talked about the decades that passed, the struggles and the triumphs of years of life and love. At the time the experience seemed random, but looking back and connecting the dots, I realize how beautiful this moment was.
A stranger poured out his despair and instead of walking away I sat down to listen. How lucky I was to 'bump' into him. After an hour or so of talking you could see an immense weight fall off his shoulders. He didn't stop grieving, however, he did find peace in the ways things were. The conversation ended in laughter and energetically you could see a release.
We are all going through this life and everything that happens is completely relative. However, so much of our experience is relatable. There is this illusion that we are the only ones dealing with whatever struggle comes our way, though through personal experience I have concluded this couldn't be further from the truth.