“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”
Throughout my life, I lived with the belief that vulnerability, being sensitive, showing emotion, and tenderness were weaknesses. So, I tried to go through life with a “suck it up” attitude. I did my best to hide my sensitivity (not very well). This was especially evident when dating; rather, avoiding commitment, from the get go.
Somewhere along the way I gathered evidence to support my belief system about love, trust, and relationships. Some of my beliefs about relationships included the following:
“You can’t trust anyone”
“You can’t depend on anyone”
“Relationships are for suckers who are afraid to be alone”
“Relationships cramp my style.”
“Relationships are illusions that society created to perpetuate conformity.”
“It’s weak to be vulnerable; therefore, it’s weak to fall in love.”
"If you want to make sure of keeping it [your heart] intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal."
So, I always tried to run from relationships and commitment. When I was younger, I was hell-bent on being single and having the single life…clubs, hook-ups, partying, randoms, no sleep, self-created mayhem. Because, “relationships cramp my style.” Also, I had so much fun exploring my empowerment, physical expression, freedom, independence. However, I was running from vulnerability, as well.
As much as I would try to run, the Universe placed several relationships, signposts, and learning opportunities in my path. During these relationships I learned about trust, romance, communication intimacy, compromise, and hope. I also learned about co-dependence, addiction, manipulation and betrayal. My relationships have been the best teachers for wounds that needed to be healed.
“Wrap it [your heart] carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.”
After feeling the grit of past relationships, I adopted my original belief system back. “You can’t trust anyone;” and, “relationships are for suckers who are afraid to be alone.” Along with my belief system, I went back to some of my old behaviors…partying and random hook-ups.
I would hook up to create distance. I would become involved with unavailable people to avoid being vulnerable. I would hang with people on a surface level; then show them the door to leave. I created a wall around my heart to avoid experiencing true intimacy, to hide from betrayal. In my mind, we had already betrayed one another, so why bother. My heart was closed until further notice.
“But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
I went inside to my “safe,” airless, mental casket and hid my injured heart that was full of pain, contusions, and scars. I formed a relationship with blame, victimhood, and hiding from my demons. I continued collecting evidence that supported my truths so I could self-sabotage and elude myself from myself from vulnerability.
Then, I became conscious to the need for the courage to shift my belief system about vulnerability. I chose to wrap darkness and fear with forgiveness and compassion. The healing began. I viewed my experience with relationships and betrayal as my teachers, teaching me what I am made of, how to walk in my light of integrity, and educating me on what I truly want and need from relationships. I bless my experiences for bringing out my resilience, fortitude, and self-love.
“To love is to be vulnerable.” ~ C.S. Lewis
So, here I am. Being vulnerable. Cracking my heart open to love. Giving myself a chance to explore trust, intimacy, and honesty. Fear is always whispering in my ear; but, if something scares the shit out of me, then I know I have to go for it. I’m all in. That’s courage, that’s vulnerability, that’s love.
Jessica Sharpenstein, M.S., C.W.C.