In my head, there is a room. In this room, there is nothing but a single chair and a door—always locked—and no matter what I do, I can never reach the handle. This room has been with me since I was a child. A place I created to mourn and make sense of young traumas. A childhood trap.
I shared all of me with someone once. That truth distorted her image of us so much that she, in a confused haste, took her love from me. This didn’t happen right away. I felt her drifting in the midst of prayers, over Skype sessions that lost focus and clarity and over cancelled date-nights. I heard her leave in the heart of her asking, “so, what are you saying?” I felt her go as she paced the steps of the Musée du Quai Branly during our summer trip, trying to gather the courage to tell me that she needed less, more, or both from a lover. We flew back home and landed in separate classes, separate dorm-room meetups and separate friend circles. I told myself that I would never again, by any means, be so forgotten.
To write this piece, I had to keep asking myself the question: when do I feel the most vulnerable? Then: why do I feel the most vulnerable when I talk about my desires, when I talk about loss, when I talk about my intimate relationships? I can tell a good story, sure. But when you ask me how I feel about the story, I get nausea, my chest tightens, my stomach hurts, and I want to run away—and far.
Lead by concrete, structured teachings, being vulnerable is an underground myth Harriet only told her homies. Being open to attack is unearthing a stench of tenderness wrapped in hushed trauma. The ineffable gawk for burdening salvation and baptized horrors has gone unchecked for long enough. Liberation is unruly, colorful and relevant! Let me be here.
As a creator and even in my life, vulnerability has been something I’ve found myself struggling with lately. I want so desperately to give of myself freely and unabashedly to the world, but putting my guard down to do that can sometimes be overwhelming, if not terrifying. To me, it means opening up my whole self for judgement, for ridicule, for someone else to view me the way I often times have viewed myself—which hasn’t always been the most flattering. Sometimes, I even fear praise. Your added attention just reminds me that I am naked and exposed. Luckily, I am now journeying back to myself. I am learning that vulnerability is not about opening ourselves up to judgement, but to possibility.
Vulnerability invites courage into our lives. It requires surrender and reinforces our faith. It’s found in the moments between closed eyes and open hearts. It lives in the contemplation of ideas that challenge our identities, who we think we are, and what we believe we represent. Vulnerability means stepping outside of your comfortable mental walls, exposed somehow, to the great unknown.