I have been thinking about vulnerability, and the various types of social armour we develop, a lot lately.
Since becoming a mum, I feel lot more vulnerable (it’s uncomfortable to even write that).
I have spent decades building up a protective shell around my wildly over-sensitive heart; built up hulking independence muscles out of sheer necessity. I hate asking for help. I feel guilty whenever I complain about anything. I AM FINE (just don’t look too closely).
Becoming a mother has cracked me open. Not only have I been physically reduced by surgery and exhaustion, but I have also had to completely rethink my approach to work, career and finances, what is achievable in a day, and my relationship with The Spark.
One of my friends recently said she would never reveal the things that I write about here. She said she finds my oversharing ‘outrageous’ (she meant it in a positive – if slightly aghast – way).
But here’s the thing. I love it when I encounter vulnerability in others. I love it when people reveal private details that strike a gong of OH MY GOD YOU TOO? recognition. I love people who have the courage to share the bad bits, the shameful bits, the hard bits. Those people make me feel better about all darker parts of my psyche because, instead of living in there by myself, they share the space with me.
The problem with being vulnerable is that it leaves you open to criticism and judgement. One of my favourite bloggers over at Hurrah for Gin talks about this here, saying that if you tell the truth – the whole truth, including the shitty bits – people attack you for not being grateful enough for your good fortune.
Here’s the thing: just because what you’re feeling may be deemed a first world problem, or seem insignificant to other people, that’s still your reality in that moment.
We need our armour – it protects us from a harsh world – but we also need places where we can take it off. We need people who make us feel safe. We need brave voices and we each other’s stories.
We also need to gather around and protect people when they are at their most vulnerable, without judgement, so to all the supporters, listeners, givers and observant sentinels who watch over us, know that you are immensely valued.
How do you feel about vulnerabilty? Do you ever drop your guard? Do you feel embarrassed about being too open?