What is Vulnerability?

Vulnerable: adjective 

Exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.   (Oxford Dictionaries Online)

This word has had a bad rep! It has been categorized as a weakness, marked as something shameful and being vulnerable is just a state we try to avoid. But let me tell you why I’m talking about Vulnerability.…

I knew a while ago that my calling in life was to share my story and help others. Yet, in my mind, I believed first that I had to fix all my imperfections in order to help. I believed I had to reach a level of success and perfection before I could ever make a difference in someone’s life. And for years, I held onto the biggest lie, thinking that perfection was reachable and spent time striving for that flawless life.

My past is messy. I grew up under a big cloud of shame believing I had to present to the world only the good and happy side of me. I believed that my mistakes and failures and exposing my real self, my “humanness”, was unacceptable and thought it would make me unlovable, feeling unwanted. I lived with the fear of being rejected and that drove me to hide my past. I kept it locked up so no one could use it against me. I thought I was gaining control of my life, but sadly I was disconnecting from relationships and everything that made me human, loosing my authenticity.

For years I lived with the desire in my heart hoping that one day I would be brave enough to share my past and be an inspiration to others, waiting for the perfect moment to come by and say, “you’ve made it, you’re struggle free and have the permission to speak about your messy past”. But the reality is that…. struggles don’t end! It took me a long time to understand and accept that in the midst of my problems and mishaps I can help others.

 Before I began writing I kept thinking and telling myself:

“No one cares about what you’ve gone through”

“How will you help others, what difference will you make?”

“Don’t do it! Your life isn’t worth sharing”

“Someone might hurt you”

After a bit of soul searching and reading Brené Brown’s works, I felt so identified and motivated to share my story. She writes about the power of vulnerability and emphasizes that we feel shame because we aren’t “who we should be”. Society has placed so many expectations that dictate:

  • Who we should be
  • What we should be
  • How we should be

These expectations where controlling my thoughts and behaviors. The reality is that there will probably be people who don’t care. There will be people who won’t understand and be quick to judge or label me. But it took me a long time to learn and accept that approval comes from within, and that’s what has given me the courage to write, share and raise awareness. I know I’m not the only one who has had thoughts like these. Sadly, we treat ourselves so bad that we become our own worst critics and enemies, interfering in our own goals and dreams.

I am proud and grateful to have overcome many obstacles and be on the path of healing and recovery but, not only was it hard to get through recovery, it wasn’t easy to speak about it either. It took guts to tackle my insecurities and self-doubts and believe me, I still battle with them, but I no longer let them control me or my dreams. When I gave myself permission to share with others and be vulnerable my fears and feelings of shame and embarrassment slowly faded away. It gave way to a deeper healing. I began to feel more connected with myself and with others…growing in love, compassion and acceptance, and realizing that what makes us closer to other people is our authenticity and vulnerability.

So then…. what IS vulnerability?

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It’s acknowledging our imperfections and being able to share and talk about them. Note! I understand that we can’t always share everything to everyone, but this is how relationships grow and choosing to be real, instead of pretending, is more rewarding to ourselves than to anyone else. Brown defines it as the root of all human connections. It’s the pure, raw and authentic state that allows human connections to flow. Vulnerability is strength.

So…with courage, love and a hopeful heart, I write and hope that sharing my story will give others the courage to do the same.

Your story is the key that can unlock someone else’s prison. Share your testimony.