Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vulnerability




Is it through our vulnerabilities we get to know each other that much better? By revealing them, I mean. Taking the risk. Showing our underskirts to each other.

I saw much of it today. There's a lot of pain kicking around. And once the door is opened, if only a sliver, the sadness within begins to waft out. In little dollops at first, then some cloud bursts, then a steady stream. We are stitched together very lightly, aren't we? More like a basting seam. I suppose we only get the perfect French seams when we are aged as far as we can go and moving over to make room for someone new and there's no room for leaking.

I know some that keep that stiff upper lip going all the time. And it is only through the odd little slippage of the mask you get to assemble some of the story. Piece by piece. I was at a wonderful birthday dinner tonight, a packed hall. The recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal, among other medals and certificates, is a dear friend, like a mother to me since I moved here. And it was only when, privately, she took me into the archival room where all her awards were encircling us and I held her hand that I saw how truly important all this was to her. This made sense of her life. Her volunteerism, her stoicism in the the loss of her husband and the death of a barely adult son a few months later. This filled the void. She let me see that void, briefly, when she squeezed my hand tightly and said: What does this all mean anyway?

Bling, I wanted to say back, like pollyfilla on the walls. Filling the holes. Making it all look pretty. I didn't, of course.

Would I want such honours? I wouldn't say no to a Booker now, would I?

And another. Sharing the pain of his daughter's marital collapse. It's sad when our children's adult dreams shatter in their faces. Sadder than the failure of our own dreams. Why is that?

And another, her identical twin sister in the final ravaging stages of alcoholism and there is nothing she can do. I know what familial alcoholism is all about. I just have no idea what it is like to care so deeply for someone who is dying from it who is the exact mirror of one's self. Who shared the womb with you. Who is locked underneath her demons with a layer of vodka keeping the world at bay.

It is only in revealing our sadness and weakness, we allow others the opportunity to touch us, to feel the connection, to say, perhaps - me too. Me too. I know. I was there. I am there.




27 comments:

  1. Sometimes we are the the opportunity for others to lift that lid. At times it can be a privilege to be the listening ear.

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  2. A lot of very wise words there. "My greatest fear is not being alone, it's being vulnerable." I'd never thought of that before but I think it's very true.

    Activities that are like polyfilla, filling the holes and making everything look pretty. Absolutely.

    And I'd never thought (not having children) that your children's shattered dreams might be sadder than your own. I guess if you're thinking of the longer lives they still have ahead of them, that makes sense.

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  3. A friend recently sent me this link to a TED talk about vulnerability and authenticity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o (Brene Brown: the power of vulnerability). It's about 20 min but it says what you are saying and it is fun to watch. Basically, Ms Brown tells us that vulnerability is essential to our humanity, our happiness and satisfaction in life.

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  4. Brits of my own generation still have "Keep Calm and Carry On" embedded in their consciousness, there since childhood. It's a fairly thin veneer though.
    We're as fragile as everyone else underneath the wraps. :-)

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  5. I have reflected on this too, as of late, WWW. It seems we have drawn some of the same conclusions.

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  6. Oh, yes, I'm there too. Struggling to keep from falling into depression with all the stress of life. It's good to feel one is not alone. Your post reminds me that everyone has trouble.

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  7. We all develop coping skills and, unless they are destructive habits, we should be complimented on developing them. It's a smart way to deal with what might be unbearable suffering otherwise. We should not give up everything that works. xox

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  8. You said it so much better than I ever could. Never afraid to be alone, absolutely afraid to be vulnerable. A work in progress. Sometimes one forgets we all have our issues, or demons whether or not we show them. I agree with Irene about developing coping skills and being proud of them. We need to know when its okay to be vulnerable and when not to be. Thanks for your wise words.

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  9. Pain is universal. So is suffering. I don't believe there is anybody who does not suffer at some time in their life. We all know it but we keep our secrets to ourselves. Just occasionally, like you said, we let the 'underskirt' peep out through a crack in the facade.

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  10. You've introduced some interesting thoughts to ponder.

    So true about lack of fear for being alone, but vulnerability being more of a concern. I do think one must be careful about the degree of vulnerability revealed to different people -- who we allow to "listen."

    I was aware of being incredibly vulnerable for some time after my husband's death, seemed unable to limit myself, possibly misplacing my attention to a listener which caused me to incur needless pain complicating and prolonging my adjustment. Also, had to cope with the surprising surfacing of old adolescent-type insecurities long ago overcome.

    I think we want to protect our children no matter their age, so we feel great pain when they do. Perhaps, we feel that somehow we've not been as successful as we wanted to be preparing our children to avoid many of their painful situations.

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  11. That post was written very well and I think most of us could identify with it.
    We are all so fragile under our calm exteriors and occasionally the mask slips a bit for all of us to see that we are all human sharing the same problems and aches and pains.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  12. Vulnerability per se is natural and can be tackled provided, and that is a very big provided, there are places where such vulnerabilities can be shared. Most people do not find such fora and suffer. Eventually the suffering eats them away. There is also another aspect to it, an unwillingness to share with others the vulnerabilities which is more common than we would imagine. The latter is all the more poignant for its sheer inanity.

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  13. Touching post. Nothing fits nicely into square pegs -- barbara

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  14. I agree, GM, I have one of those faces I've written about before.
    XO
    WWW

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  15. Nick:
    Some things are more frightening than loneliness.
    XO
    WWW

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  16. Annie,
    I haven't watched it yet but have bookmarked it for later. Thanks!
    XO
    WWW

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  17. T:
    Yes, you were raised with that nugget. We just fell to our knees and prayed. And prayed.
    And confessed. And prayed.
    XO
    WWW

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  18. BG:
    Stiff upper lip doesn't get us anywhere, does it?
    XO
    WWW

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  19. Anne:
    Last time I looked none of us have the exemption certificate...
    I hope you are doing OK.
    XO
    WWW

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  20. I agree Irene, we all have coping skills, see today's post :)
    XO
    WWW

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  21. Carol:
    Yes and feeling safe if we choose to be vulnerable is important.
    XO
    WWW

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  22. Friko~
    And the more we throw lights on our dark corners the better we feel!
    XO
    WWW

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  23. Joared:
    yes we must use caution as betrayal can be a part of some people's arsenals. I too have been victimized.
    And our children's suffering is so hard to take!
    XO
    WWW

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  24. Joared:
    yes we must use caution as betrayal can be a part of some people's arsenals. I too have been victimized.
    And our children's suffering is so hard to take!
    XO
    WWW

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  25. MM:
    Yes, pain is the great leveller of us humans. Particularly internal pain.
    XO
    WWW

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  26. R:
    Stiff upper lips can kill us. Or the most important parts of us.
    Sometimes there is no coming back. I see that very much in my children's father.
    XO
    WWW

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  27. FN:
    Welcome!
    And the more open we are the happier and less alone we feel.
    XO
    WWW

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