When you feel overexposed.

I think there are two types of vulnerability.

The first is a choice.

I choose to write this blog. I choose to make myself vulnerable in a whole host of ways. I talk about the difficult stuff and the painful bits. Maybe the things other people would choose to keep hidden.

But it is my choice. And, although it may appear occasionally I am airing my dirty laundry in public, it is the items of clothing and the stains I have deemed appropriate to share. I imagine a whitewashed room, a gallery, with carefully curated rows of washing hung from wall to wall. And the invitation extended; ‘come, examine, feel relieved, my dirt looks quite similar to yours’.

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Then there is the kind of vulnerability that is out of my control. This is much harder to deal with.

Although I am an extrovert and an outer-world person, who thinks out loud and over shares, there are some things I would rather keep buried deep. Many things I don’t want anyone to see.

And if someone has to see this mess, it had better be my husband, because he is kind-of contracted to keep loving me.

But sometimes things happen and you cannot keep presenting your life as you would want. Sometimes you suddenly find yourself out of control. Sometimes you feel vulnerable. And exposed.

I have had a few of these moments recently.

An unexpected panic attack that I could not control. Leaving a restaurant whilst the food I had just ordered, sat uneaten still warm on my plate. Asking a friend to drive me home straight away, cutting short our limited time together.

I felt exposed.

I was undone and I did not like it.

This was not carefully edited and curated vulnerability. It was the heart-thumping, messy, disordered, help-me-now vulnerability. The kind where you feel if someone doesn’t grab your hand you will slip away. Where the scrambling of your thoughts is paralleled by the swirling in your stomach and the despair in your heart.

And it made me feel ashamed.

That I could not be stronger. That I could not get-a-grip.

And my friend -who I was with, who drove me home, who reassured me- do you know what she said?

She said;

“I’m so pleased you can tell me when you feel like this. You always tell me after the event. You only let me in when you have found your way back to some kind of stability. But now you are letting me in when you are not okay. And it makes me feel important to you. I love you and I want to be there for you when it is messy and painful. Thank you for letting me.”

Okay, so I can’t remember the exact words she used, I was in a bit of a mess, but that was the gist of it.

That I didn’t need to hide.

That there need be no shame, for I am loved and accepted. That she was honoured (yes, actually honoured) that I let her walk through that with me.

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I’d rather not go through that again. But I know that if I do… it is alright.

Because when the blood seeps through the bandage, and I am exposed for the messy and broken person I am, I have friends who will tend to my wounds. And we will know each other better and love each other more because of it. And maybe one day, they will let me do the same for them at their moment of need.

Even from the moments that I wish I could suppress, good can come.

 

2 Comments
  • Pingback:Circling the pool. Part 1
    Posted at 19:12h, 13 April Reply

    […] July I wrote a post (you can read it here) about a panic attack I experienced that was terrifying and humiliating and probably in my top 5 […]

  • Pingback:Finding the time to have a good conversation.
    Posted at 19:16h, 17 May Reply

    […] (The incident Sri is referring to happened nearly a year ago when I had the Mother of all panic attacks when the two of us were in a restaurant. There was no avoiding what was happening or pretending otherwise. I wrote about it here) […]

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