The other day my Calm meditation focused on the concept of vulnerability and relationships. It suggested we consider being more honest and authentic with our relationships.
I personally find this a terrifying idea. As an empath, I already feel entirely vulnerable as it is. There are some people you just cannot show vulnerability to because they will use it for their own manipulative purposes down the road. At least with me, this has happened and I lived wishing I had never revealed anything. That or they try to tell you how to “fix” the “problem.” To me, there are very few people I can be vulnerable with. Even after opening up with one of these few, I am still fearful that they will eventually use it against me, tell me what to do, or secretly judge me.
The Calm advice was that when someone asks how you are, you answer honestly instead of giving the usual polite answer of, “Fine” or, “Okay.” Again this depends on several things even with a trusted person. Are they in a hurry? Are they in a good state of mind and open to hearing your troubles? Or do you even know how you are? Often I just feel bad for no obvious reason.
Vulnerability is supposed to make your life better. I see how this could be if you have a lot of trusted people in your life. People who would honor and validate your feelings. People who would listen and ask before offering their thoughts. However, in my experience, I have often been cut off and told (with good intention), “Oh my goodness don’t feel that way!” Or, “You know what you need to do?!” In both instances, good intentions were meant. However, growing up with these things being said to you every time you wanted to be heard makes you eventually decide your feelings are best kept to yourself. We need to be vulnerable with other authentic people especially when we are first emerging into vulnerability.
All you need is one person, to begin with. When they ask you how you are doing, and you can tell they really want to know, answer truthfully. You might be feeling a little tired. You might be feeling lonely that day. Perhaps things are really great and you share why. Or maybe you have a problem that you can’t solve. Often these authentic answers will lead to better connections and conversations.
During this pandemic, people have found they need more in terms of emotional support. I know I have. I have sought out a lot of help from therapists and they have helped. However, my family knows nothing about these struggles; my friends know nothing. I am currently contemplating on why. Why am I keeping this to myself? Mostly I know the way certain family members will respond and I don’t want to hear it right now. And my friends, well they are all rather far away from me at the moment. I know maybe a couple of people in my area. Truthfully, I feel completely disconnected from everyone. Also, mostly I am fearful of judgment. I often wonder even when people seem to be patient and kind and understanding if really they are thinking to themselves, “Boy what a loser; always complaining!” I think that is my real fear–are they really being honest in return? I don’t know why I think this way.
Relationships have always been difficult for me. However, I would like to perhaps try and open up more about what’s going on with me these days. Currently, I am trying to decide who that person will be and when the right time might be. Being heard and having your feelings validated is often just what you need to lighten your burdens. Maybe after all the worries and feelings are released I will have more space for the joy and creativity that Brene Brown talks about.