Today I’m going to do my level best to answer a question from a reader, and I’m going to do it by telling part of my own story.
The question, in a nutshell, is about how to “keep” the vulnerability, the sensitivity, without feeling hurt all of the time.
First of all, remember that there are no mistakes, there is only human experience. We deny our vulnerability because we don’t want to hurt. We may try to develop a hard shell or put a wall up because we are attempting to avoid feeling hurt, being disappointed, heartbreak.
So here is where my story might be helpful. It also might not be totally what you want to hear right now, especially if you are hurting.
I was involved in an emotionally abusive relationship for more than 2 decades. I have some pretty serious experience with being hurt, deeply, and consistently. My experience then also extends to making myself nearly invulnerable. A hard shell (with a soft smile – no one needed to actually see that I was putting up a wall of defense). I decided that I wouldn’t let myself be hurt, I would be strong, invincible. I would NOT be vulnerable. Looking back, I realize that this seemed to make the pain even worse. The excruciating pain of wanting something (a healthy relationship) so badly, and not seeing any way it would ever happen.
Eventually, my marriage ended in a nasty divorce, and my own “decision” to not allow myself to be vulnerable kept me from seeking the support I so desperately needed.
It was painful. I finally did reach out for support from a wonderful group of friends and family, I did A LOT of personal work, and I did finally heal from the pain. It took time. More than 2 years. I tell my story of exactly what I did to heal in this post.
And after I healed is where my story becomes really useful in answering the question: “How do I keep the sensitivity and vulnerability of my spirit, without feeling hurt all of the time?”
As I healed I blossomed. I opened. I began to really, truly, LOVE my life. I felt so alive. So happy. I was living with intention, being authentic, and it felt magical. I had found my path, knew my purpose, and was amazed at how beautiful my life was becoming every single day. I felt whole, and because of that I felt I was ready for a relationship. An awesome relationship, of course, and this time I knew what that really meant.
I met a wonderful man. I fell in love. Everything was completely magical. And then…it happened. We had a small disagreement. I cried. We made up. I was okay. The world didn’t end. 😉
And then a few weeks later…I got hurt again. This time there was NO reasonable or logical excuse for it, it was a total misunderstanding. I KNEW I was “making a mountain out of a molehill” but there it was, I felt wounded. It was a small thing. In fact, it was something that wouldn’t even have bothered most people and yet something got triggered in me and there I was feeling completely torn up about it. Feeling so hurt over something so stupid then had me questioning everything…why am I suddenly being totally petty? This was so unlike anyone I wanted to be. I honestly questioned whether I could do this ‘relationship thing’. (Not a comfortable question to be asking yourself when you are a relationship coach!)
I was wondering “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!”
I remember standing in my closet, hanging up a sweater and feeling so frustrated about my own emotions, asking myself WHY was I so sensitive? I felt so vulnera…uh oh.
Then it hit me. This vulnerability that was allowing me to feel heartache was the very same vulnerability that was allowing me to feel so seen, so heard, so loved, so connected.
And MY vulnerability and sensitivity were also the very things that allowed my Sweetheart to be open to me, to be honest and real and authentic and vulnerable with me. I remember the epiphany-like realization that I needed to decide now whether it was worth it, because I knew I could not have one without the other.
Was the risk of a broken heart worth the magic of true love?
Was feeling hurt over an occasional misunderstanding worth feeling the thrill of deep, pure connection?
My answer was, and is, an unequivocal YES.
Misunderstandings and miscommunications are inevitable in a new relationship. These things happen because we don’t yet know each other well, and they are the very things that enable us to know each other better. These experiences are the very things that give us practice in responding in a conscious way, in Being who we want to Be. Our intimate relationships are the clearest mirror we have to show us who we are, and sometimes it feels uncomfortable, sometimes it can hurt.
But here is the thing…you do not have to “feel hurt all of the time.” You can certainly allow yourself to open, to be vulnerable, to be sensitive and to allow those qualities to support you in connecting, in loving yourself and others, and in becoming stronger emotionally.
If you are in a place where you are feeling hurt all of the time it’s time to figure out why. Basically when we feel hurt (or any other uncomfortable unwanted feeling or emotion) it is because we have a need that is not being met.
What is the unmet need you have that is causing you pain right now?
Your feelings are a miracle. All of them. They are there to guide you into the fullest most joyful expression of your unique path and purpose.
Being open, honest, vulnerable are the very qualities that allow you to feel – and your feelings let you know what it is you need. Allow yourself to express that need, and meet that need. Be open, honest, and vulnerable with yourself first. Get actively involved in knowing yourself and loving yourself. Find your healing. Healing your broken heart will allow you to find freedom, and wholeness.
And if you haven’t seen Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability…check it out. It’s powerful and profound (and I have all of my private clients watch it!).
You are precious, and you can find freedom from heartache.
Love & Magic,