A Conversation on Vulnerability

What is it I stand to lose Gabriel thought? He looked straight at Melinda, his therapist, and asked, “What is the risk of showing all my vulnerability? Is it fear of showing my weakness? My neurotic thinking? My uncertainty in knowing how others will react to seeing inside my thoughts? Fear of exposure? Of being an impostor of sorts? Afraid of appearing arrogant? Intelligent? Too sensitive? Weak? Callous? Or ignorant? Shameful? Or, all of these?

What makes it so frightening to share my world that the risk of sharing is greater than the risk of never being known? Many spend their entire life that way. From the day my wife died, I felt a complete shift. I felt naked, exposed, all my layers of defense stripped away. I not only wanted to share my internal world, I wanted to be witness to, listen to, and share other people’s, and it has remained that way ever since.

Through my open, gaping wound, I suddenly felt a kinship with human beings in a way I never did before. I became a member of the ‘heart ripped open and I’m still breathing’ club. When I stepped through that door, my world and the world around me, changed forever. I felt like I had earned the privilege of vulnerability, had become more human, and could now continue in whatever my task or mission was that the aliens or the Great Spirit put me here on this earth to do.”

He realized he had tears streaming down his face and wiped them with the back of his hand. Then he took a tissue and blew his nose.

Melinda said, “You are very courageous. Some people never open up, or open and then close up after a tragic or traumatic event. Even after being broken open. It takes a lot of courage and work to risk and to embrace vulnerability, especially after being hurt so deeply. The intensity of your feelings, are a testament to the depth of your love for your wife. You have incredible strength through your vulnerability even though you may at times feel it is weakness. Quite the opposite. It takes amazing strength to admit and show vulnerability and it evokes and allows others to be open as well. We have to stop for today.”