If you’re lucky, you learn something new every day. Or, at least every year. As I’ve aged, I’ve come to understand some things about myself, and the world, and try to use this information to create what I hope is a more authentic life. Recent years, and the experiences which they contained, have taught me that settling for less than I want is not an option, liars are gonna lie and that love is a chemical reaction more than a choice.
This 53rd trip around the sun has imparted some real lessons, but none bigger than this:
There’s nothing harder than being vulnerable.
At my age and professional experience, financially I’m doing ok. I have a fairly stable income and good healthcare. I don’t live beyond my means or carry debt other than a mortgage and a car loan. Little has proven my level of financial security as much as this pandemic has. I am incredibly fortunate.
People who are financially vulnerable do not sleep. That was my personal experience during times of financial stress. I mean, I remember those days. I had them most recently when I owned a restaurant. It was horrible. Juggling money, time and accounts was far more responsibility and stress than I wanted in my life. I got out.
Some people are vulnerable physically. They’re in dangerous living situations or unsafe circumstances. Or, maybe their bodies don’t perform in a way that is typical or desired making them susceptible to illness or injury. Despite two encounters with cancer and a couple of aches and pains, thankfully that’s not my reality.
My vulnerability is purely emotional. I’m afraid of feelings. Of caring too much. Of giving too much of myself away. I’m challenged by the act of exposing myself. I don’t easily let people in, especially at this point in my life. While I might be inclined to express myself freely verbally, letting down my guard in personal situations is not something I find easy to do.
I understand that I’m lucky – my vulnerability is emotional. It’s about feelings, not anything tangible or subject to a crisis, be it health, political or otherwise. My “struggle” isn’t obvious or readily apparent, at least I don’t think it is. Until now, of course.
I’ve come to understand that it is impossible to let anyone in, unless I open myself up. That’s some scary shit, like keep-me-up-at-night-stuff. Allowing access to one’s heart, risking pain or rejection, is a challenge that does not come easily, not to me. I’m working on it, though.
Sometimes, as I’ve learned, the hardest thing to be is soft.