Vulnerability: Bane or Blessing?

English: Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migrator...


In observing the intricacies of human relationships, I have witnessed that it is virtually impossible to interact without building some emotional connection. Unless one is truly a sociopath or psychopath without conscience of any sort. But most of us are not without conscience and, as we build personal connections,  we naturally become more emotionally vulnerable.


Familiarity is said to breed contempt but I have witnessed it breed another element: comfort. A familiar fragrance, sound, touch or voice can evoke in us instant feelings of comfort that may not necessarily have as much to do with pleasure as it does with structure.


Even that annoying co-worker who can grate your nerves with her whiny voice is, all in all, a good steady worker who does her job and there is something comforting about hearing her whine about things no one cares about. It’s just a familiar routine and most humans thrive on the structure of familiarity of routines including people and places.


Given a choice, I would far rather have been born in another century because I find the busy craziness and crudeness of our world all too brutal for my sensibilities. As I just wrote a friend tonight: I fear I am all too fragile for this world. He replied: Sometimes the sweetest fruit has the toughest skin and gave coconut as an example. Funny cute but I highly doubt my skin will ever be as tough as coconut.


Despite having seven layers of skin, I often feel mine is one layer of rice paper-thin and, as a lawyer once said to me in reference to the emotional state of most of the abused women she worked with: “It’s like trying to work with a wet kleenex.”


Of late, I have felt as though I ought to phone her and say, I know what being a wet kleenex feels like. Just be patient with them, they’ll dry out.


There is so much to come to terms with when you have made yourself vulnerable to human beings who hurt you. Not to mention the public shame of always feeling that it is, somehow, your own fault.


When will we stop dancing around the fact that everything in life simply cannot be sunny and just let people do their processing in as individual a way as they need? Why not respect them for their vulnerability and bravery instead of doing the shame on you for airing dirty laundry routine? Leonard Cohen says it best: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.


Just play back in your mind the darkness we lived in before it was okay for little children to tell someone if they or one of their friends was being abused. Well, it was always okay to “tell.” The problem was always fear of telling the truth and even with all the education out there now, it often still is.


In my observation, too much stiff upper lip is not a healthy characteristic and can often prevent healing that needed to take place generations ago. Everyone says we have to be positive, we have to be strong in the face of adversity. And we do. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t permit ourselves to be vulnerable because, for me, that’s the only way I heal.


Into the light we forge with the knowledge that whatever darkness is ahead, we will bear up and not only survive but thrive because we are not afraid to be human, to express our frailties and grow from them.


Brave little children often speak up, speak out, speak against the bad without any reservation or inhibitions whatsoever, laying themselves vulnerable to help another who is even more vulnerable or cannot speak for themselves. What better proof do we need that human vulnerability is, indeed, as much a blessing as our strengths are. In some way, vulnerability is even more courageous to behold.


JANNI (C) June 2011


*I am not a psychologist of any sort, far from it, I am but a human finding her way in a world gone awry some days. Comments and discussion are always welcome :) Thank you for stopping by to read.