You know those questions that people often ask that make you squirm a little in your skin … the questions that you hope your close friends and family don’t ask you – because unlike most people who fleetingly ask such questions (with little regard about the answer), your close friends and family are asking with a genuineness that will require some level of vulnerability on your behalf? Questions like “how are you”, “are you happy”, “how is your marriage” etc etc.
There are of course varying levels of vulnerability that you can respond with – most of us opting for the response that we know will appease their inquisitive minds but not leave us over-exposed in anyway. It’s called the art of ‘manipulative conversation’. Society has conditioned us to keep our distance, consumed our minds with thoughts that ‘everyone is against us’ or ‘they don’t have your best interest at heart’, to the point now that we are so accustomed to generating a computerised-like response, void of all emotional display, to simply please our concerned counter-parts, that when asking that question to ourselves later in the day, we ourselves may not even know the answer.
Am I happy? How is my marriage? It takes brutal honesty to answer such questions – and let’s be honest, sometimes we ourselves don’t like the answer, so why on earth would we want to let someone else in on our struggles? That’s absurdity.
Or is it?
I have learnt a lot about vulnerability in the past 6 months or so. I have a personality and heart that continually thinks the best of everyone, a “wears her heart on her sleeve” kind of girl who often finds herself sharing too much of her world. As you can imagine this doesn’t always end well, often leaving me somewhat dishevelled, hurt and confused.
For reasons that I can only articulate as God’s grace, I keep ‘going back for more’, unable to shut off this eternal positivity in humanity. Therefore, my journey of late has not been one of ‘shutting down completely’, but one of ‘learning how, where and in whom to place my trust and vulnerability’. There are of course seasons in life that require a certain response from us – a time to open our mouth and a time to close it – but there is never a time for isolation.
We were created to do this marvellous, exciting, unknown life together! Therefore, it’s not a matter of IF we allow people into our world,
but WHO and if I could offer just one piece of wisdom from my experiences, it would be this: ‘When they are willing to fight with you
in the trenches of life, it gives them the permission to dance
with you on the mountain tops of life’.
Brené Brown says this
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Only you can answer the question of whom to let into your inner most world … but can I encourage you – ensure you have someone (I would even suggest additional to your spouse if you are married). Someone who will listen, support, challenge, be empathetic, hear your silence, cause you to dream and love you unconditionally. Have someone whom when they ask “how are you” or “are you happy”, you are brave enough to answer with authenticity. There is nothing more freeing than having someone in your world who you can be truly yourself with – and having truly found this a few specific friends of mine, I can tell you that there is truly nothing better!
At Oh My Grief we are very aware of the truth that life can change, sometimes tragically in a moment… sometimes those moments are because of significant loss due to a death, a relationship ending, a job concluding or even an illness. It is in these times of loss, pain and grief that we can draw strength and support from these relationships which are already in our lives.
By being vulnerable and open with the few chosen people in your life when things are “normal”, it fosters and enables incredible support when life throws you unexpected challenges / struggles.
“What we know matters but who we are matters more.” – Brené Brown