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Thoughts on Vulnerability...

Ok, so first I have to own that I do not do it well.  I mean, I am better, at least I think I am better...maybe not.  Fuck, I don’t know.  I think I am better than I used to be, I am for sure more aware about how I show up and how I don’t...painfully so.

I guess the most honest thing I can say is that I seem to look for reasons to leave.  Always have and perhaps always will.  It is like as soon as I am in a relationship of any kind, I find myself looking for the exits.  Like somehow my sheer presence in it invokes this somewhat desperate desire to flee.  I seem to want both things simultaneously:  to be free and to be held.  And as I review my relational trajectory, it is replete with instances of me either trying to connect and remain, pock marked with instances of complete panic and flight.  It is just how I do relationships.

I am not saying this is a good thing.  It is just the most honest inventory I can hold at this time.  Someone this past week read my writing and said  “I look forward to be able to learn from you how I can love you better so that I can feel the vulnerability you express in your writing  more often.”

I still haven’t responded to her because this line in a text message stopped me dead.  I was flummoxed that she thinks I have this information...she thinks that I somehow know how to tell someone to love me better so she can feel my vulnerability...It was one of those moments for me.  Where her words just stopped me cold.  I have no fucking idea.  I don’t even have access to my own vulnerability...It is there and then it isn’t.  My writing is the one place that I can bare it for all to see, where the distance between you and me and us and them is less.  There is no one here to see me.  There is no one right here threatening me with intimacy.  I can be as free and as honest as I want because you dear reader are miles and miles away from me and that is far enough for me to feel safe enough to be vulnerable.  If you or her or anyone was right here, I am telling you what I have access to and what I can bear would be a completely different story.

This is the place I get vulnerable.  Perhaps, one day, I will be able to do that when an actual person is right here too.  I am not sure.  I know I try.  I know that I try to be vulnerable and open and honest, but her words rocked me because until she wrote that I wasn’t really aware that I wasn’t vulnerable with her, like I wasn’t aware that there was something else from me that people might want.  And it was painful, her words, because as soon as she said it, I could so see the chasm she spoke of...I didn’t really see it before, I mean I felt it, but I didn’t see it because I guess I didn’t want to.

I have to own that I don’t know how to tell anyone to love me, better or at all.  I feel like I am always dancing this line between staying and running.  I spend a great deal of time distancing myself from those around me, fault finding, inventory taking (mine and yours) all in a great effort to create the relation distance I need to feel safe.  And safety is what I need.  And it is something that I do not and seemingly cannot feel while you are right there in front of me.

I remember as a teen the desire to develop a physical intimacy with a boy.  I would want to kiss him and hold hands and make out but when there was a real boy in front of me, I froze.  I could not allow him to touch me, or I him.  I just completely shut down.  I could be charming and flirtatious on the phone only because he was NOT THERE.  Once he was real and present, he presented a feeling of overwhelming threat to me that I just could not manage or get around.  I could not get over my own panic.  And I spent the entire time with the boy just trying to manage my own anxiety that was off the fucking charts, and figuring out possible escape routes and then executing on the one that seemed least likely to ruffle feathers and the one most likely to bring me safety...and solitude.  I just wanted to get away.

So the whole of my life has been this running towards, seeking something I wanted quite desperately, this communion of souls, but I could never effectuate it because as soon as you were close enough to touch, I had to run away.  And this is how the whole of my life has gone.  I find safety only in the moments when I am defining you out of my life.  Once I have leveled your importance to me, then you are safe.  Once I don’t need you or want you anymore, then you become a threat neutralized.  And unless I do the work to put the distance between us, I cannot ever feel safe.

So I can’t answer her question and I haven’t responded to her question because just her asking kind of broke my heart.  For her, for me, for any hope that I can do this better.  I do not know how to love myself or let you in.  I think I am doing better, but in reality, perhaps I am just perpetuating the same pattern over years and calling it something else.  I really don’t know.  I do know that her text message pierced my heart, in mostly a good way.  Causing me to look at me and how I do this whole relating thing again, with a fresh perspective.

I so appreciated HER vulnerability.  I appreciated that she felt safe enough to say what she said.  And I saw how very much I did not feel safe enough to even answer.  I responded to her text with placeholder words meant to let her know that I read it and I want to respond, I am just not really sure how...

My response to all vulnerability asks apparently is to write about it.  To put it all down here, to show up here where I feel safe and let loose.  Give myself with some abandon and not so much a tactical response.  While I would love to have a conversation about it with her, I know that even over the phone I will start to dance away.  Leaving the shell of me, while the rest of me retreats to that place within me that is only for me.  I can’t invite you in because it is the only thing in this life that feels like it is mine.  So much taken, so much given, and the desire for me to have this island within myself that no one other than me ever inhabits is a large fortress that I long ago lost the key to.  I can’t invite you in, I don’t know the way.  I don’t know if I even really want you there.  My desire to bring you close is always, and I do mean always, coupled with a great desire to repulse you away.

I like the idea of intimacy and vulnerability.  I like it a lot.  But it has become more illusive I think the longer I live.  I keep believing myself more capable than I am.  I keep creating narrative that grants me more than I actually have to offer.  I play the role, I do the things, but I am not all there.  Not really.  Not completely.  I still believe and live as though my thoughts and feelings and heart are mine alone.  I cannot offer them up really...because that risk is just too great.  I can only offer them up to those who are not capable of appreciating them or really reciprocating because in that grave disconnect, I find safety.  I find no satisfaction...just safety.  And I guess me feeling safe is always going to be more important than feeling satisfied or perhaps even happy.

I don’t know how to tell you to love me or even relate to me.  It is a daily struggle for me to even do this with myself.  I know I am doing my best even though I know, I KNOW it is way lacking.  I continue to try to be present AND vulnerable, but at least today, it is a skill I haven’t mastered.  And the longer I live, the less likely I am to believe that it will ever be better than it is right now.  I do not know how to remain without always planning an escape route.  I do not know how to let you in.  I do not know how to let you be vulnerable and have a realistic expectation that I might do the same.  Writing is all I have.  It is the thing I can do that allows me to feel connected while remaining safely distanced from you.

I love my friend for reaching out and saying what so many others have not had the courage to say to me.  And I am working myself up to a place where she and I can have an actual conversation about this...but I am not there yet.  The mere thought of it causes me to be overwhelmed with fear and a strong desire to and far.

This is my best effort.  Here.  This place where all the things inside me come tumbling out...this is the place where I feel safe enough to be vulnerable.  And for the moment, this is really the only place I do.  Words are my protection, written on a screen and preserved here.  They are my castle walls that guard my soft interior.  This writing, this is the best access I can grant today.  I both wish it to be different, and at the very same time, I wish it won’t.  And that is the reason that this is where I live, because my desire to change, the real true desire to be different pales in comparison to my need, my desire to feel safe.  And at least for now, I cannot do it differently.  But I will continue to try...again, still.

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