Wednesday, January 12, 2011
What do you think of when you ponder vulnerability? It always made me feel squeamish, antsy. . . ready to turn on my heels. I am a child of a feminist, strong and mighty; I am an only, out on my own and blazing trails for future generations. Hear me roar.
There's not a lot of room to be vulnerable when your sole purpose is to hide weakness. If you haven't noticed, I'm working on that. It's why I share. . . so maybe you will too.
I had a powerful experience at school this week. New semester and, thankfully, new faces (with such a small cohort it's nice to meet a fresh perspective). I'm enrolled in a Group Counseling course and thanks to the workings of a genius professor, it began with an opportunity to share prefaced with the idea that, in any group environment, there are sweet and bitter things about the setting. Sometimes it's having a loudmouth next to you, hoarding the time allotted; working with others who are closed off causing you to lose interest that the experience can be healing. It's complicated, but it can be oh-so-good depending on your willingness to relent.
And that's just it. The first go 'round of introductions had most folks using caution when addressing what made THEM bitter and sweet. Christ, who wouldn't have hesitation?! Being authentic in such a setting is so hard, after all "What will people think of me?" or "Am I worthy of being listened to?" I've been working on my own authenticity for months, maybe even a year, thanks to a wonderful therapist who has had me, in the words of the great Brene Brown, "lean into the discomfort." For so long, I've been afraid that if I am anything but agreeable, amiable, friendly and inclusive, people will leave me.
It's true. Do you struggle too?
And so, when it was my turn, I threw myself into the discomfort (which isn't so hard anymore). I told this group of folks whom I know only from a safe classroom/textbook environment, that I binge, I'm hard on myself (and therefore hard on others, mostly internally), and I'm taking medication to help me cope with depression. Oh, and I feel great about it. Really great. What's sweet about me is that I am growing into my courage. Again, quoting Brown, I am increasingly able to "tell the story of who [I am} with my own heart."
What's bitter? Please, I still have high expectations. But as I go easier on myself, it expands into allowing me to have really close relationships that make me really happy. And good grief, this is a process. I don't know if I'll ever be fully evolved, but I know the relief that is sharing, like getting used to the cold water you've just jumped into, gets better over time. Especially if the pool is already peppered with folks doing the same.