For a month or so now, I’ve felt a sort of emotional undercurrent. I’ve had the sense that at any given moment, regardless of what is happening in front of me, I could burst into tears. It wouldn’t take much- a Hallmark commercial, flowers, even a sweet “thinking of you” text from a friend… tears are always possible. When I sit quietly after Landon goes to bed, attempt meditating or during that last ten minutes of yoga when you lie still … I immediately lose the battle with tears.
Don’t get me wrong, there are wildly joyous things in my life. Most recently in finding great love, I have also fallen in love with his daughter. My heart has instantly and dramatically expanded to include them both. While rising in love, he and I have waded through the chapters containing our complicated stories. Opening those rooms in our minds and hearts that were firmly shut years ago- spilling memories that are bittersweet and certainly rife with emotion. There are tears of happiness and tears of past pain that is yet to be forgotten. It’s a new life full of love, laughter and no shortage of emotions between us.
With all that’s happened in just one year’s time, a few members of my tribe have quietly and sweetly asked if maybe a therapist is in order. Maybe, but it feels like the 10 + years I spent in therapy already have prepared me for this particularly complicated year. I know how to sort through the emotions, I have navigated these halls before and know the best way to evaluate and analyze what’s in front of me. And most importantly… I know that I feel this way because I have been living vulnerably.
Vulnerability is not something I’ve ever been comfortable with before. When I was hurt in the past, walls immediately went up. As I’d slowly bring them down, it was my experience that I would be hurt again… and again. My heart was a bit battered. I couldn’t or wouldn’t trust, so being vulnerable wasn’t even an option. Now, in this kind of new awakening in my life, I’ve found the purest, kindest and most patient kind of love. Love without pain and love without strings. And without even thinking, my heart and mind are vulnerable. They are open with no walls in sight.
Being vulnerable is required for true happiness- in finding love in another as well are pure love of oneself.
The tough part about being vulnerable is as my role as Landon’s mother. We visited a playground the other weekend and a tween decided to glare at her. Not stare, curious and innocent, but GLARE. You know what I mean- glaring with her face turned up. Glaring without realizing that there was a mama bear ten feet away that was ready to pounce. It was as if I was living in slow motion. A burning desire to protect or even seriously overreact emerged. I felt my face flush and I was instantly glaring back intensely with the meanest of mean looks. My reaction was the OPPOSITE of everything I stand for. This is the reality of my current vulnerability. I feel this more. I feel like I have to protect every child with any difference. It’s absurd, but that’s the honest truth. Vulnerability is tricky business.
Right now, I’m letting this newly found vulnerability settle in. I’m growing more comfortable being uncomfortable. I’m trying to embody what Brené Brown more eloquently says in Rising Strong:
“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.
“We are the authors of our own lives. We write our own daring endings. We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure.”
I have come to accept that fear is a natural reaction to my past 35 years. From a complicated relationship with my father to the numbing pain I felt off and on over the last 10 years with Bo, until now I had accepted that painful love was the only kind. So how do I not allow the fear to win? How do I now love wholeheartedly? How do I teach Landon to love and see the world without fear in her heart? I’m learning that it all starts with being brave- especially when it’s hard. And recognizing my immense gratitude for the love I now have which allows me to be vulnerable and honest.
As for teaching Landon, I’ll remind her to love herself. To be continue to be brave and open to everything life offers. To make sure she recognizes the light and pure joy she brings to those around her. Today she told me that I was beautiful. When I asked her who else was beautiful she simply said “Landon.” Who wouldn’t cry at that?
Cheers to you for living openly, accepting your entire story and loving vulnerably.