The V Word
Why is being vulnerable a bad thing? Yes, if we’re talking about the primitive days, survival instinct kicks in if we are threatened – i.e. vulnerability is bad, it shows weakness. But in this day in age, is it really bad?
At 21, I had my heart slowly ripped to shreds. My first kiss and I reconnected in college, and I fell madly in love with him. And I use madly for a reason. We were crazy. He had complete control over me and I over him.
Although there were many very tender moments, looking back, I was selfish, ego driven and wasn’t vulnerable – I would make him show me he loved me through petty things – changing plans on him, wanting him to be a certain way, and giving him the cold shoulder if he did something I didn’t like. Although not to the same extent, he would do similar things to me. At the end, we broke each other’s heart until there was nothing left to come back to. How I handled this can be described in one word. Poorly.
For years following the relationship’s demise, I cried uncontrollably, numbed my feelings with alcohol, and avoided opening myself up to another relationship. I once had someone I was seeing tell me “Aliza, I see you falling for me and then you close up like a brick wall.” He was incredibly perceptive, and I continued doing this for 10+ years after the ‘04 fall of Aliza.
Researcher and author, Brené Brown, describes in one of her Ted Talks, “Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if you talk to people who work in social justice, mental health or abuse and neglect. The ability to feel connected is neurobiological – that’s how we’re wired.” Needless to say, although in friendships and family I found deep connections, I avoided this at all costs in my romantic relationships.
Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if you talk to people who work in social justice, mental health or abuse and neglect. The ability to feel connected is neurobiological – that’s how we’re wired.
For whatever reason, I felt I needed to be perfect and held Zack to an unattainable standard too. I needed to exude a sense of perfection and have that perfect relationship with the perfect person. Spoiler alert, he, like me and everyone else, had flaws.
I don’t know if it was my background as the granddaughter-of-a-Southern-Baptist-minister or my type-A everything has to be perfect mentality growing up, but it took me a long time to allow someone to see the true, authentic me. I was lucky to have friends who would be raw with me, opening up so I felt comfortable showing my weaknesses and imperfections, subsequently deepening our relationships. You know what that is? To paraphrase Brown, vulnerability is what makes us worthy. It’s the courage to be imperfect, compassion with yourself and enables deep connections between individuals. What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful, e.g. the willingness to say I love you first and invest in a relationship that may not work out. Something that took me 30 years to realize – I am enough, flaws and all. It’s ok to say out loud to people “I have no idea what I’m doing,” crying when it feels right, and asking for help – showing the authentic, vulnerable you.