I never thought of my scarcely planned approach to love and relationships as a by-product of vulnerability. Being open has always been my M.O., one that has served me well but one that, at times, comes with heavy drawbacks.
What Ms. Brown only skims over in her beautiful presentation is the pain that vulnerability, for all its advantages, leaves you exposed to. Pain with a gigantic capital P. Personally, I wouldn’t trade it for putting my guard up but, again, this is all I know.
When I started dating, I briefly tried to take to heart the Cosmo advice that being unavailable or exuding an air mystery were better tactics than being perceived as a doormat. Well, I believe there is an acceptable in-between. Why wait three days to call if I feel like calling? Why not suggesting something I would like to suggest rather than wait for him/her to do it? If the response is laconic or phone calls are not returned, the guessing game is over without wasting any more time speculating or playing “loves me – loves me” not with pretty daisies.
Being open and upfront in love has the magical reward of establishing an intimacy in which who does the dishes or pays the bills has no place but where the bond and support between two people are at the core of the relationship, rendering it immune from silly bickering and adept at resisting the tidal waves that come, like biblical plagues, to test such relationship. Being open also comes with the power to wound and be wounded far deeper than superficial scratches and no matter how hard we try, it’s impossible not to succumb to our less noble instincts from time to time.
Lately, I have wondered whether being vulnerable isn’t a bit akin to a mild form of bipolar disorder: exhilarating peaks followed by dark valleys. Sofagirl is a veteran of the intercontinental, middle of the night phone calls in which I profess to my life being over amidst a flood of tears. We both know my life is far from over, and that I will be back on my feet after a suitable period of time spent feeling sorry for myself. But, in what I don’t think is a masochistic trait, I somehow welcome that Pain too. It reminds me how alive I am and that what was beautiful was worth it and it will be beautiful again. It’s all connected. At least, in hindsight it is.
My efforts at trying to build more of an armour were doomed from the start as being vulnerable is how I came out at birth and never found good enough reasons to change. Can it be learnt or unlearned? I have no answer but what I believe is important is to honour who we are, find the courage to change what doesn’t work and share both endeavours with the people in our life who matter. And who will pick up the phone in the middle of the night to reassure us life is not over.