“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~ Brené Brown
Finding the Courage to be Vulnerable Again
There was a time when all the things I would write, I would write them from the heart. And because of that, the words would always flow easily and effortlessly – no effort on my part. But for a year or so, I stopped writing from that beautiful and magical place. I stopped sharing what my heart and Soul wanted me to share and I decided to keep it all to myself. I don’t know if I did this consciously or not, and I guess it no longer matters. But what I do know is that I did this to “protect” myself from being hurt. I did this thinking that if I kept all my insights, all my thoughts and all my experiences to myself, people could no longer use them against me.
“When you start hiding things away, that’s when the darkness creeps up. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” ~ Steve Kazee
You see, for as long as I can remember, I kept everything that was happening to me and all around me to myself. I was silent about what was happening in my home, my family, my mind, my heart and in my life. And even though there was a lot to carry, I never said a word to anyone. I was ashamed and I thought that if I dared to open my mouth and share what was in my heart, people would laugh and make fun of me. It happened when I was a little kid, and I was afraid it was going to happen again.
“Guilt is just as powerful, but its influence is positive, while shame’s is destructive. Shame erodes our courage and fuels disengagement.” ~ Brene Brown
As a result, from a very young age, I learned to hide things, to lie and pretend that I was okay when in fact, I wasn’t. I learned to hide the pain that was being inflicted on me by my own father while growing up. And I learned to hide who I was from the rest of the world; playing a role, and constantly pretending to be a happy person with a normal life when in fact, that was far from the truth.
I thought that was the right thing to do. I didn’t know any better. I was young and I desperately wanted to be loved. I wanted the acceptance and approval of those around me.
But as years went by, things started to change. I started to change. And through a series of fortunate events and wonderful interactions, slowly but surely, I began to realize how damaging it is to hide from yourself. How harmful it is to allow shame and fear to govern your life. And how toxic it is to think that your wounds, your scars and all your past pains and struggles are things you should hide and be ashamed of.
“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl
With a new set of eyes and an improved way of looking at things, I started opening myself up. I started sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings and I started writing about many of the things that for so many years I didn’t have the courage to talk about with anyone. No longer feeling ashamed, no longer feeling afraid, and no longer feeling like I needed to hide from the rest of the world. And that gave me courage. It made me feel safe. It made me feel secure, but not for long.
“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” ~ Grace Hopper
Life has a funny way of revealing to us the darkness that is still present within us; the many wounds that are in need of healing, and the different areas of our lives that are in desperate need of our love and affection.
Even though I would’ve preferred to remain safe like a ship in the port, no longer having to deal with my own darkness or the darkness of other people, soon enough life was going to “ask” me to leave the port and sail out to sea. Not because it wanted me to suffer. Not because it wanted me to feel unsafe. But because it wanted me to discover that there were still many areas of my life that were in need of healing; many people, places, and experiences that needed my forgiveness. And many dark areas that were in need of light, truth, and love.
“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~ Anaïs Nin
After living and working in Malaysia for 2 years, I felt the strong urge to go back home to Romania to write my first book there, which by the way is done and will be published on March 8th. To my rational mind, it seemed like a crazy thing to do, pure suicide. But deep within my heart, I knew it was the right thing to do – maybe not the safest, but the right thing to do. And so I did it. I did what my heart and Soul wanted me to do.
“Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” ~ W. Clement Stone
I moved back home in the fall of 2013 and even though I was afraid that I might not feel too comfortable being here, to my surprise I realized that I actually loved being back. Everything looked so different to me and it felt as if I was a new-born baby. As if that was the first time I was experiencing life in that environment and in that energy.
It was incredible, and I stayed in that state for almost one year.
I was happy and grateful and my heart was filled with so much love. It all seemed so perfect. But we all know that everything changes, nothing ever stays the same. And after almost a year of feeling safe and secure in my nest, a soft and very subtle rain was heading my way. The rain that was soon enough going to become a tornado.
“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster, and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster’s body so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true. Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware.” ~ Carl Gustav Jung
When asked if I want to give an exclusive interview to a national newspaper here in Romania, I said yes. The questions were really beautiful and written from the heart, and I couldn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t do it. But by opening my heart and by being fully transparent and vulnerable, something that I learned to do here on this blog, I triggered something very dark and painful in a lot of people that read my interview.
And eventually, that pain and darkness ended up being projected onto me. Why? Well, I guess because I spoke so openly about things that so many people in this country, and maybe in other parts of the world are used to hiding, suppressing and feeling guilty and ashamed about. I spoke so openly about how I, when I was a little child, was physically, mentally, emotionally and verbally abused by my own father and bullied by the people around me. And I guess this, too many people, is something you should keep hidden and be ashamed about.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ~ Brené Brown
We like to pose, pretend and act as if all our lives are perfect, thinking that we are the only ones who have “issues,” who have to deal with violence, pain, hurt, abuse, financial problems, and all kinds of toxic addictions to drugs, sex, alcohol, etc. We hide ourselves, our wounds, our problems and our entire lives from ourselves and from others. And we go on living and pretending as if we are all so perfect, so happy and so good. When in fact we all have problems. Nobody’s life is perfect. But we like to think – and pretend – it is.
There is this beautiful verse in the New Testament that says not to:
“Waste what is holy on people who are unholy.” Not to “throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” ~ Matthew 7:6.
And even though the interview was a tremendous success and lots and lots of people loved and benefited from it, because it was a national newspaper, it reached also those people who never asked for such “information.” Who never looked for a different way of thinking, of being and of living their lives. And I guess my words brought to the surface things they tried to keep hidden for so many years. Things for which they felt guilty and ashamed. And like the good girl that I am, I took on their shame. And as time went by, without even realizing, I started hiding once again. And I started thinking that it is shameful to be vulnerable, to speak your truth, and to show the world the real you. And I did that like a Pro!
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” ― Brené Brown
This whole incident affected me greatly mostly because of my past. Because I lived in fear for a very long time. When my father was alive, I feared him. I had no idea how to love, but I knew how to fear. He taught me how to fear. I feared everything and everyone. When you live in fear for as long as I did with a father who tells you you’re no good, and who treats you as if you’re unworthy of love and affection, your poor heart and mind holds onto these messages And no matter how much you work on healing, forgiving, accepting and making peace with your past, there will still be people, places, and experiences that will trigger those painful memories in you until you heal everything that needs to be healed. And I was triggered badly.
After that whole incident, I was afraid to write like I used to. Afraid to speak my truth, and afraid to write from a place of love, authenticity, and vulnerability. And even though I am a grown woman, I felt like a frightened child. Deep down inside I knew that if I wrote about it, it would help me heal. But I couldn’t do it. Only now, after so long, I am able to open my heart and let it all out.
I was so afraid. I felt that I couldn’t trust people anymore.
“How could I? I opened my heart to them and they used my vulnerability to hurt me.”
These were the words my mind kept telling me. And I struggled because of it.
A part of me wanted to love, to create and to see the beauty in people. But the part of me that was hurt, kept me from doing this. And I felt powerless.
This is why my writing changed. And this is why there was a less soul in the words that I was writing and the things I was sharing with you. But as time went by, as I started coming out of that dark place, I realized that since the work that I do is about being truthful, honest, vulnerable and authentic, I would be a hypocrite not to talk about the things that my heart and Soul need me to talk about. I would be a hypocrite not to be myself just because at one point in the past, some people had a problem with the way I am.
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you’ll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” ~ Arthur Gordon
I will take it slowly. And I will do my best to write with all my heart and to always be true to myself and to you. Because this is who I am. Writing is a way of sharing myself, my gifts and my knowledge with the rest of the world.
And that’s about it. This is my story on learning finding the courage to be vulnerable again. What about you? Do you think it’s possible to open your and be vulnerable again after a painful experience? You can share your comment in the comment section below 🙂