If you know anything about me, you know that I really hate vulnerability. In fact, I’m aware that my desire to avoid feeling vulnerable has led to the loss of friendships over my life, and numerous missed opportunities.
There is nothing like a physical injury or illness to really force you into vulnerability against your will. I will tell you that I dislike feeling vulnerable so much, that while I wrote this in the midst of my experience, I needed a little distance before I was willing to post it. So here is my experience with vulnerability. I hope it helps someone handling their own vulnerability feel a little less alone.
Vulnerability is what I’m experiencing as an emotional side effect of my broken arm. I broke my humerus in a fall and I know that I’m lucky that I didn’t hurt myself worse. I don’t need surgery - we’re kind of doing my arm repair the old-fashioned way with a brace and a sling. As a result, I am occasionally still in some pain even a few weeks into this, and I can feel the bones move which is weird and worrisome at the same time. I also have to go around with my arm strapped to my chest all day and night.
What this means is that there’s very little I can actually do for myself. I can’t dress myself. I can’t shower myself. I can’t put my dirty hair in a ponytail to get it out of my face. At the beginning, I was so panic stricken about falling again and being off-balance with my arm strapped to my body that I really hesitated to even move around the house without somebody with me. At first, I resisted feeling vulnerable. That only intensified how bad it felt.
I had a choice to make. I could allow myself to continue suffering. In the alternative, I could work on being able to accept the vulnerability so that I could tolerate it without being completely miserable. At the beginning of this ordeal, I was like 75% miserable and there was a lot of crying involved. Once I leaned into the vulnerability and acknowledged that it was my current reality, it became much easier to handle.
I hate asking for help from people. Why? Because I am afraid of rejection. And that is really just my brain playing b.s. games with me. If someone with a broken arm asks for help, who is really likely to say no?
I know that it also has to do with my self-concept which is kind of wrapped up in being someone who takes charge, gets things done and who knows how to navigate through life. Any dent in that persona really causes me a lot of emotional pain. It's also part of my perfectionist personality that I do not like for people to view me as imperfect.
Unfortunately, this interferes with connection. And results in a lot less joy in my life. I think it’s going to be interesting to see if I allow myself to continue to be vulnerable even when I’m recovered. The trick is – once you learn how to manage a particular emotion, you have to be willing to access those skills when you need them again, rather than just falling back into resistance. I'll keep you posted. If you would like to learn how to learn into your emotions instead of fighting them, schedule a free consultation and check out what coaching can do to improve your life.