The other night I had a conversation where my tender vulnerability bubbled up to the surface. I felt my throat tighten reflexively; it was like a rope around my neck trying keep the words inside. I took a risk, stepped off the cliff, and shared what was in my heart.
It was a potent moment of opening myself to another, without a guarantee of what would happen. Is there ever any guarantee? Not really.
In these instances we often crave what Krista Tippett calls, “generous listening” which she describes as, “…being powered by curiosity…which involves a kind of vulnerability — a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity.”
This is essential when we want to encounter one another’s authentic humanness.
In this instance, I experienced the power of sharing something very vulnerable into a deeply receptive space of caring. Someone who loves me was there, patiently available, his heart listening generously. This moment of undefended human relating gave rise to healing, and a part of me was freed from the bondage of what I had been withholding — out of fear.
The conundrum for me is that what we often are most terrified of sharing with another — because we imagine it to be too taboo to mention, or that which we are too ashamed to admit even to ourselves, becomes the bridge to a kind of freedom.
Once we dare to voice that which sticks in our throats like a dry peanut butter sandwich, we often feel relieved because now a part of us has permission to be alive. The part which was shrouded in darkness is welcomed into the light, and it glows with an aura of micro-luminescence.
It’s as though the atomic particles of our being have been lit up like deep sea creatures dancing as they effortlessly put on a magic light show, much like the kind you’d see while diving in the oceanic depths.
Sharing our tender vulnerabilities creates closeness, which may at times bring about fear or feel like the exposure of standing alone in an open field as the cold wind whips through us.
When we allow ourselves to get close to someone, we risk not being heard, or received; we risk being rejected and yet, in my experience, it is well worth the risk, the trembling inside, and the pounding of the heart. The path to intimacy is one that requires courage, the courage to be known.
The courage we access when we birth a vulnerability bubble often inspires courage in others, and it builds a kind of common ground. The feeling may be one of, “We are not so different. I have felt that too and if she can share it, then maybe it’s safe for me to open up as well.”
It is a mystery as to how, when, and with whom we find ourselves doing this dance of intimate vulnerable revealing. I for one feel blessed to have opportunities to speak the unspeakable, to show the unshowable, and to feel the embrace of my own heart wrapping its arms around me from inside and out. This is one of the many gifts of having close relationships.
The willingness to expose our tender human vulnerabilities creates a bridge from heart-to-heart.
While intimacy is delicate terrain, it also fortifies the soul; it is nourishing like a warm bowl of home-cooked soup which then sustains us out in the world.
The times in which we live are asking us all to build bridges to intimacy in our close relationships, so that we can stand as pillars of strength and clarity as the waves of chaos and change move through our country and the world. We need these close connections even more as the outer structures unravel and evolve into something still unknown.
We may foster health by first tending to our own hearts, to our families, and our communities. It is by cultivating understanding that we may become gateways for authentic connection even when our viewpoints differ vastly. In true intimacy, polarization dissolves.
I envision a world where we as humans are woven together through our connections rather than torn apart by our differences, a world where we each strive to see one another’s full humanness as we embrace our vulnerabilities. After all, we are in this together, aren’t we?
In this way the possibility emerges to engage in a harmonious culture of creativity, inclusivity and collaboration, rather than one of competition and discord, a realm rife with struggle, greed and divisiveness.
I stand for unity, truth and love which begins with being willing to embrace our fears, flaws and insecurities as we each take responsibility for creating a healthy, sustainable planet. I stand for the commitment to open to one another, listen generously, and be unflinchingly compassionate and human together.
You are invited to share your experience of vulnerability and how it serves you in your life. What do you stand for? I am a generous listener. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published on Medium: