I find myself discussing the concept of vulnerability a lot in my life now.
There are so many things in this world that make me feel vulnerable, and I never really realized that until I could identify what vulnerability feels like to me.
When I feel vulnerable, it externally reads as me being bashful/embarrassed/shy. It’s hard to separate and recognize vulnerability as a feeling. It’s harder to recognize things that make me feel vulnerable. It’s hardest to label that feeling as vulnerability.
I don’t enjoy feeling vulnerable, but I think that’s a very common feeling among people with behavioral disorders. Because of my destructive behavioral past, I never really had to feel vulnerable. I never had to feel like someone knew too much about me, like someone could tell what I was thinking, like I messed up. I just buried those feelings deep underneath a variety of destructive behaviors.
Since I no longer have those destructive behaviors, I have had to improve my ability to recognize what emotions I feel. More often than not, I do feel vulnerable, and that is excruciatingly uncomfortable.
This past weekend I had a lot of different conversations that made me feel vulnerable, and I felt myself start to shut down because of it. It’s easier to shut down and not feel things that make you uncomfortable than it is to actually deal with them.
Instead, I tried to voice that I felt vulnerable. I tried to express to friends and near-strangers exactly what I was feeling. It wasn’t necessarily easy, or comfortable, but I was able to sit through the rest of those conversations without feeling the need to be destructive.
Identifying my emotions was, and continues to be, one of the most difficult aspects of recovery for me. I originally didn’t know how I felt. Once I knew how I felt, I never was able to say how I felt out loud. Once I could say it out loud, I never knew how to explain why that was how I felt.
It’s a work in progress. Sometimes, I feel embarrassed by the fact that it’s a work in progress, but I was reminded multiple times this weekend that we’re all works in progress. That’s what makes us human.
I will always be a work in progress. While I effectively communicate my emotions now, there will always be room for improvement. I will continue to need to identify how to make myself feel comfortable with, or cope with, vulnerability and other emotions.
There’s no shame in that, just like there’s no shame in being emotionally honest with others in order to protect myself and all of the work I have put into creating the person I am at the moment.
It’s hard to be vulnerable, to feel vulnerable, to express feeling vulnerable. But we’re human, and everyone has something that’s hard for them. It’s okay to struggle with things that feel like normal aspects of human behavior.
Accept the struggle, know it won’t always be there, and continue to be kind to yourself.