For the past three weeks I have had the opportunity to witness bravery on a level I have never known. No one has saved a drowning child, run into a burning building to save kittens or lifted a car to rescue a person pinned beneath it.
But many of these women have jumped off cliffs without knowing if a net would appear. They have laid bare their deepest insecurities to be ridiculed or shunned. They have openly loved strangers with words that bathe the soul and tears of compassion.
I have witnessed great vulnerability. And it made everyone stronger.
It is in our ability to be vulnerable that we are able to share our authentic selves. This is where we meet the souls whose vibration is a match for ours. Not our soul mate, but our soul sisters and brothers. There is a recognition, a remembrance, although we may have never actually met.
We are taught our whole lives to be strong, take care of things, nurture others before the self. There is wisdom in those teachings, but they are not complete.
From the time I was in high school I was the one who took care of things. I made decisions and choices when others couldn’t or wouldn’t. I took control of situations that had stagnated, reversed course or took wrong turns.
I shared my weaknesses in my humor, sometimes sarcastic biting humor at another’s expense. I sharpened my edges on other’s weaknesses. I needed to feel superior, in charge, important. Vulnerability was the kiss of death. I could not be caught crying at a movie, at a funeral and definitely not a work.
Over the years I have worked to let go of that particular shell. It was very helpful, it took me through many storms and moved me to the top of more than one ladder and I thank it. It served its purpose.
But as the years go on and I continue to let go of the false sense of control I had I am able to see the beauty in perceived weakness. It happened in steps.
First I had to witness a strong person “falling apart.” I had to see that even though they cried out of frustration, they did not break. They lost no power.
Then I began to play around with the concept crying in front of other people. First I started talking about it. Admitting it. “I saw that movie. Cried like a baby.” No adverse reaction. “Did you see that commercial? It made me cry!” Still nothing. Could it all be in my head?
I would go to the movies with friends and there would always be a crier – never me. Then one movie, I don’t even remember which one, it happened. I cried. My friend seated next to me just handed me a tissue like it was the most natural thing in the world. Because it is.
This was quite a number of years ago and much has changed. It is when I am at my most vulnerable that I feel freest. There is nothing that can be taken from me because I have let it all go, I have given it all away.
My authentic self can never be hurt or compromised or lost. Only covered by fear and pretension. When I am hurt or scared or feeling neglected, it is not me that is being rejected, it is one of the personalities I wear, one of the masks. As I set it aside I notice all those feelings go with it. I am left with peace and an open heart.
Vulnerability is the lens through which we begin to see our own true nature. My true nature is unconditional love, peace and divinity. So is yours.
That field that Rumi spoke of, “out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing?” That is where our true natures recognize each other. See you there.
[Photo: Gentle moonrise as the sun begins its decent.]