Psychology

50 Shades of Vulnerable

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Written by Dominica Applegate

Nerves on edge, frightened at the thought of shedding comfortable layers, I courageously jumped into a new reality where nakedness is seen as beautiful. Authenticity viewed as courageous. Truth”¦noble.

Yes, my spiritual journey tends to lead me out of my comfort zone and into the “unashamedly vulnerable” zone where I am faced with the choice to hide or seek.

I choose to seek.

I was recently at a workshop and we were to share with the group one word that was really resonating with our spirits during a group meditation.   Words like peace, hope, grateful, and excited were shared. My word?

vulnerable-woman

Vulnerable

That’s exactly how I was feeling.   Why? I was feeling uncertain at the thought of sharing the deeper part of me. You know.

Taking a risk and putting my authentic self out there among those I do not know. Even though I’m pretty cool with who I am, in new situations my ego surfaces and I have to consciously refrain from putting a mask on.

Degrees of vulnerability

When I meet people and get to know them, I take note of how vulnerable they are, as there are different degrees of vulnerability. Some people are all out vulnerable and some get nauseous at the thought. I also gauge authenticity. Their willingness to let down their guard, open the heart, and let me in because I view these as beautiful qualities. I actually love people for who they really are at their core, no matter what is going on in their lives.

I’ve had some women come to me telling me they just don’t think they are good enough. They don’t feel worthy. They’re afraid to be themselves or maybe they don’t even know who they really are. They’re contending with feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, pain, anger, and more. My heart breaks for them because if they could really see themselves as I see them, if they could feel the love that I have for them”¦.they’d experience peace and joy like they’ve never experienced before. It might even blow their minds!

But let’s face it: vulnerability is scary. We fear being hurt because we’ve all been hurt many times in our lives by family, friends, lovers, etc. We put our fragile hearts out there because we wanted to love and be loved and it didn’t always go as planned, right?

(Um. Here’s your bloody heart back. I don’t want it anymore)

Whatcha building? A wall

Ever since we were born, we’ve been contending with pain and trauma. As children, we tend to stuff pain or detach from it because how can a young child know how to cope with it in a healthy way? The problem with this is that the pain doesn’t just go away. It stays lodged in our body’s energy system and essentially creates blockages, which affects the emotions. The more trauma and heartaches, the more pain gets trapped deep within, the worse our emotional state.

Now some are able to get through and process old wounds, whether through therapy, self-help methods, spiritual or religious beliefs, etc. Others will begin constructing a wall around their heart. They don’t normally know they are doing this, but over time they become distrusting, skeptical and along with that comes plenty of negative emotions like fear, anger, depression, anxiety, and more.

Along with wall-building, we try to take the edge off or numb the painful emotions in various ways. Drinking, smoking, overeating, chronic shopping, popping pills, working a gazillion hours, gambling, etc. Let’s just say that addiction is running rampant in our society because we freaking hate feeling pain.

I remember years ago when I was really struggling emotionally after leaving my husband for a woman, hurting not only my ex-husband, but my children as well. Coming out of the closet to BE my authentic self was the most vulnerable I’d ever been and bet and believe it wasn’t easy.   It was hell on earth for a while internally and I wanted to drink to numb my pain. I would have loved to have drowned my sorrows for a while via alcohol, but the only reason I didn’t was because somehow I knew that if I used alcohol (or drugs or food or sex or a person) to cope, I would never”¦ ever”¦ ever”¦ find happiness.   I just knew it and dammit, I wanted more than anything to get through the darkness into the light and experience authentic happiness!

This is so on my heart because I really want to see people get free and happy. Hell, if I could break through, anyone can! See, when we numb the negative feelings, we also numb the positive feelings. Think of our emotions as a spectrum. When we numb our pain by repressing, drinking, drugging, etc., we also lessen our ability to feel the happy emotions. It is when we can make a commitment to stop running, numbing, and self-medicating our pain that we can begin a journey toward healing, freedom, and feeling the real-deal joy.

Looking for happiness in all the wrong places

I love to share my story with others because I feel like I had a “Saul to Paul” experience.   From deep, deep darkness to the brightest of light! I guarantee it wasn’t easy, but the journey is so worth it.   See, we live in a society that really puts a lot of emphasis on the external world.   Buy this and we’ll be happy. Go to college, get that job, get married, have a couple of kids, and we’ll be happy. Make more money. Work more hours. Party more. Vacation more. We put our value in external things thinking we’ll find peace and joy and it’s a total lie.

Happiness is found within. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this. But do we really get it? Do we really get that we’re way more than we think we are? We’re more amazing, beautiful, and lovable than we can even imagine and the more we dive into the inner world, the more we will recognize this. When we can begin to laser focus on our spiritual journey, we’ll begin a journey toward wholeness.

But how do we get from the darkness to the light?

Well, many books are written on the topic and are helpful, but to put it simply, it begins with vulnerability. It begins with us assessing our current reality (however good or sucky it is) and exposing ourselves emotionally. It begins with us seeking something deeper. Digging through layers of facades, lies, and just plain junk. It begins with opening up to someone about the current state of our “real-deal” selves.   Are we depressed? Angry? Anxious? Are we drinking or popping pills? Overeating? Overworking? Miserable?   Just plain exhausted and ready to call it quits?

Admit it. Now, we don’t want to go around telling everyone our plight. We’re not whining and we are certainly not victims. We tell someone who we trust. Perhaps someone who can help us along our journey. We’re simply owning where we are right now. We’re confessing that yeah, we’ve been stuffing our pain for quite a while. We’ve built a freakin’ 10 foot wall around our heart. We were abused as a child. Our relationship sucks. We’re sick and tired of feeling lonely. Whatever it is; we’re owning it.

Then”¦.

We’re going to have to make some changes.   Nothing changes if nothing changes. When I finally owned my internal misery and made a commitment to do some things different, I had to face my biggest fears. Ginormous fears! I had to face rejection. Uncertainty. I had to leave a marriage and later, a toxic relationship. I had to start over with NOTHING but a thread of hope. I had to be counseled and face old childhood wounds and many years of pain and disillusionment. Yes, it scared the shit out of me, but my willingness to become vulnerable was also very empowering and launched me on the road to healing and authenticity.

What’s next?

Happiness is not a destination. It’s a feeling and in order to really cultivate it, we’ve got to go within and start digging.   Dig deep. Excavate all the crappy layers of junk we’ve been piling up over the years. Get in touch with our Creator, whatever name we call it. (God, Source, Universal Energy, Buddha, Angels, Spirit, etc.) Cultivate a relationship with ourselves first. Take time to meditate/pray as often as we can. Get in touch with nature. Practice self-care. This is our time to make a significant personal and spiritual shift in our lives and we can do it!

We can do it alone, but I think we should reach out for help. Counseling. Life Coaching. 12 Step groups. Rehabs. Ministers. People are willing to help.

I’ll end by saying that I love you. I believe in you.

And I’m rooting for all of us!

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About the author

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Dominica Applegate

Dominica Applegate is dedicated to the art of self-discovery, creative expression, and raw truth. She loves words like epic and hardcore and needs a bit of chocolate each day. A sought-after author + speaker + coach, her work is ultimately about helping people remove blocks that keep them sad, fearful, lazy, and stuck. Author of Recycle Your Pain: It Has a Purpose, Conquer Codependency, and To You, Weary One, she'd love to meet you. Learn more at www.dominicaapplegate.com