The fear of vulnerability made me create a mask ever since I was a little girl. My face betrayed me and showed every single emotion I was feeling. This made me easy prey for tween cruelty, evidenced by my 5th grade classmates’ relentless bullying. As an added bonus, I’ve always been extremely sensitive, so I felt I needed to pretend I was strong.
Strength and indifference were the goal. Every day brought a new joke or taunt, so I believed that if I seemed to not care, I would suffer less. I wanted to believe this so much!
Of course, this doesn’t work. You might fool others at times but you can never fool yourself. There will always come a time in which we need to face reality and be brutally honest with ourselves. If not, you become disconnected from everybody, even our souls. We also waste priceless time fighting a lost battle.
It’s been quite a while since I accepted who I am and that I feel too much. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a silver lining when you are so sensitive. What makes us unique might be exactly what we dislike about us. We need to come to terms with who we are and become better human beings by working on our weaknesses. Feeling too much is not a weakness, even if for years we might have been taught that. It allows us to understand others much better, to laugh harder and to be empathetic to what others are going through. I didn’t choose to be this way but I can choose every single day what I do with this odd gift.
What’s been harder for me is losing the fear of vulnerability. Too many painful situations remind me how much I suffered when I trusted the wrong people. It probably has happened to you, too.
So fear wins too many times and then I choose to not share what is happening to me, my feelings and what I’m going through. My default answer when somebody asks me how I am is “Good! All good! And you?” It doesn’t matter if simply getting out of bed that morning required so much effort it deserved an Olympic medal. Sometimes I pretend everything is fine, hoping to fool everybody. Yet those who know me just take one look into my eyes and they know I’m lying. Remember what I said about the inability to fool everybody all the time?
The other day, a friend saw right through me. My fake reply did not convince her. At all. She was worried. Her concern tore down my walls and I sent fear to hell. I broke the silence.
My friend’s concern (and love) worked magic. She can’t solve my problems but just being able to connect profoundly and sincerely with somebody made me feel better.
Silence isolates us. When we censor ourselves and don’t talk about what really is happening to us, it’s impossible to deepen our relationships. We can’t go beyond the surface or create strong bonds with others. Nobody can know us because we don’t allow others to see who we really are. It might be self-preservation or simply because we don’t like who we think we are. We keep everybody at a distance, thinking they can’t hurt us. The reality is that even if they don’t harm us, we are hurting ourselves.
Do not allow your fear of being vulnerable hinder your ability to build strong and meaningful relationships
Obviously there is a time and place for everything. I can’t envision myself walking naked down the street or telling everybody my darkest secrets.
However, instead of living in fear, I really want to build strong ties with people who matter. When I created this blog, I envisioned writing about whatever I felt like. I still do it from time to time but if I’m really honest, the fear of being politically incorrect or too flawed stops me from posting more. Yes, my fears have been justified but I’m not ready to discuss those circumstances in public.
I’m taking it step-by-step, day-by-day, minute-by-minute. Battling fear is a long-term commitment. For now, I’m publishing this blog post because I really want to blog from the heart. Will you stick around? Will you walk down this path with me?
En español: La lucha contra el miedo a ser vulnerable