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vulnerability

How do I say what I want to say about this subject in one hour? It’s on my mind so much lately.

The conversation about it with a nearest and dearest. The event or revelation that takes my breath away for days and then I realize I feel certain emotions more acutely than I ever have. The physical need to take things just a tiny bit more slowly than I used to. The not being able to get by anymore on 4 1/2 hours of sleep. The give of mushy ground beneath my feet when I experience real fear and uncertainty. It’s difficult to admit that I am not getting tougher as I go. In fact,  it seems it’s quite the opposite.

Is that the way it’s supposed to be? Am I supposed to become more fragile as I age, and therefore more careful? Could this vulnerability that has smacked me in the forehead bring on, as a result, a wiser state?

I adore Brene Brown. She’s one of my heroes and in fact, I think she’s a social genius. Her research on shame and vulnerability is ground breaking and wonderful and I’ve even taken her online course. I love that she says we have to risk stepping out, admit our truths, and dare to be exposed even though we’re scared to death to do it. That in order to live fully and experience wholeheartedness and real joy we have to fully feel the not so joyous things. She is spot on. But that’s not exactly what I’m thinking about or talking about today. It is sort of, but not exactly.

What I’m saying is that I have to remind myself to take it a bit more easily, to take time to think, to not pile so much on these days because it feels risky to push myself quite so hard in any department, even in terms of emotional daring. I’ve always gone too far and done too much and have expected myself to be able to effortlessly handle it all, no matter what the all entailed. Who knew I wasn’t indestructible? I didn’t. It’s as if I’m now watching life out of the corner of my eye while I sit still and focus on making no big movements. I need to bolster myself before I make any more of those.

The erosion of invincibility happens in increments. A million tiny cracks, a thousand little cuts, a hundred subtle blows to the spirit, and I hear my inner voice saying, “Be careful now. Hold onto these moments, these thoughts, these pieces and do not toss them away.” What was the thing that made that finally happen? Who knows? What is the most damaging straw for the camel’s back?

I’ve been practicing sitting down and shutting up. It is simply required these days. I realize that I don’t know what might be the straw for my own back.

It’s hard to admit that I am not completely made of gristle. I am far more tender that I ever expected to be. What’s beautiful about it is that it gives me, somehow, more appreciation of my life and of others’ lives. I have more patience with myself and with my fellow perfectly flawed beings. I don’t feel compelled to say yes to every single thing. I can manage, from time to time, to not beat myself up for not working constantly. Most importantly, I don’t feel like I have to push my feelings away and be what the world considers tough. Admitting my vulnerability, however recently, has made me have to stop and consider everything, because it all counts. Finally, praise be, the way I treat myself counts. I hear my inner voice no matter what it says instead of tuning it out and forging headlong regardless of whether forging is what I really need to be doing. I don’t need to forge so much at the moment.

Maybe it really is age, maybe it’s experience, or maybe we just get worn down enough that we have to give ourselves a break before we actually break. In any case, I’m happy to be embracing, instead of fighting, my humanity. I’d like to one day be a wise old lady with a silvery grey bun on top of my head and a wide smile on my weathered face. And I don’t know if starting to take it just a tiny bit easier on myself has allowed me to see her, but there she is in my windshield, and she is quite a vision.

Happy Monday, Y’all.

AM

PS – don’t worry. I’m still kicking ass.