How Vulnerability Conquered My Nemesis
Ten years ago, a wise person told me that I would find power in my vulnerability. I scoffed at that. I didn't see how being weak or needy was going to help me get through my dark times.
Vulnerability felt weak to me. Sharing my fears, nerves, and dark thoughts felt like I was telling the world I wasn't good enough. The idea of asking someone for help was like admitting defeat.
Surely the reason I was struggling with some of life's challenges was because I wasn't strong enough, smart enough, motivated enough, or deserving enough.
Strength, independence and energy had gotten me through so many challenging times in my life. I was burning out, and powering through just wasn’t working anymore.
If asking for help felt like admitting defeat, then I wondered... defeat against whom? Who was this Nemesis I was pitted against? Some "Alternate Universe Me" who made ALL the right decisions, never faltered, had the perfect career, enough money in the bank, never an ounce of extra weight on her body, never got injured, and was liked and respected by everyone.
Yeah, that's realistic. ;)
I ask you this: whom do you connect better with? Someone who has it all together and can handle everything without help? Or someone who shows vulnerability, shares challenges, and describes what they’re feeling?
The answer is pretty obvious, isn't it?
I no longer need to be seen as strong, independent, and able to handle everything on my own. That façade created distance between me and others. It prevented closeness in my relationships.
I want to connect with people. I want to connect on all levels. That’s what vulnerability brings me: connection.
As an example, a few years ago, when my leg pain prevented me from standing up more than a few minutes at a time, cooking meals became an ordeal. I was ordering takeout way more often than is healthy. And when I did cook, it was something super simple like pasta and tomato sauce. Not a lot of nutrients to keep my body going and help with healing.
My amazing friend and life coach, Little Woo, set up a meal train for me. At that point, I felt unable to reach out to my own network for help, so she reached out to hers instead. She asked for volunteers who could bring me vegetarian meals so that I could eat healthily without the cooking.
As a result, complete strangers showed up and left food on my doorstep. This was pre-pandemic, but it was basically no-touch drop off. I wasn’t expected to socialize with them which would have been an emotional burden on top of the physical one I was already experiencing.
These incredible people helped out of the goodness of their hearts. No compensation. No reward except for their own sense of contribution to community. That’s just one example of a time when I told one person I needed help and many people stepped up to provide that help. It completely changed my perspective on community and support.
Since then, I have contributed to meal trains for others because I know how hard it is for them to ask for that help. When you’ve been the recipient in a great time of need, you want to pay it forward.
I’m being pretty open here on some challenging times in my life because I know I’m not alone. I’m also talking about a level of vulnerability that is very personal.
It's important to recognize that not everyone wants to be so open, and that's ok!
Showing vulnerability can be as simple as being worried about the reaction you'll receive to something you want to say, and saying it anyway.
I talk about my dark times easily now, but there was a time when I kept them all to myself, certain no one would understand, certain I would be judged. Slowly, I began to realize that even some of the most terrible incidents in my life were not entirely unique. Other people had gone through similar situations. Sharing brought me healing and strength in a whole new way.
There is no Nemesis, no "Alternate Universe Me". There's no ultimate version of my life that I am supposed to measure up to. There's no ideal way to live, except from a place of love. And vulnerability brings me closer to love every day.