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Yesterday my friend Carolyn wrote with great clarity and compassion about vulnerability.  If you only have time to read one thing right now, go read that.  Seriously, it’s worth it.

I read Carolyn’s words and the truth in them bit deep.  Because I can’t do it.  I can’t take the risk of being open, whether it is an imaginary risk or not.  It looms too large regardless.

I feel right now like I’m stuck in so many ways, or just clueless about things I need to be smart about, and more than anything else, alone.  I’m not developing a writing career, not looking for another job, not keeping up with taking care of myself, not carrying through with good intentions, and in the middle of it all, I feel alone.  I’m desperate for encouragement and support, desperate for (healthy, sensitive) kicks in the rear end when I am inclined to be lazy or give up on myself too easily, desperate for help to let myself off the hooks I hang myself on.  To be looked in the eye and loved in the middle of my messiness.  But it won’t happen, because I’m the one who’ll look away.  I won’t risk an eye that sees with contempt.  I won’t take that chance.

In my worst moments, I might howl in my online communities to release the pressure.  I know a lot of wise and compassionate people there, who all live very far away.  At the point of contact, I can reduce them to words on a screen if I need to.  I can close the computer and walk away, and they can’t follow me.  Distance makes them safe.  It also means they can’t help with what I need most.  They can’t be present.  They can’t see what’s wrong unless I say it.  They don’t get to offer the kinds of practical support that can happen from a distance, because I don’t ask for it.  Nobody gets inside the gritty details of my life-in-progress.  Nobody gets to comment on it negatively.  I make sure of that.  Nobody gets the chance.

There’s that old saw about insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I try to pursue change on my own, and my success is always limited, and there comes a point where I give up in discouragement, unable to see or take credit for any progress gained.  I need help to see it and help to keep going, but I won’t seek it.  I can’t even articulate why, except it feels dangerous and I won’t do it.  This feels like the real change I need to pursue, breaking open the shield-layer that isolates me, but I can’t face it.  I can’t imagine taking that on.  All I can do right now is own that the shield is there.  I’ll let you see that much.  But you’re not getting through.

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1 comment so far

  1. wushupa on

    Everything I’ve ever read by you has struck me as remarkably and admirably vulnerable. I know for sure that if you take risks in the writen word, you have the bravery to take them in the spoken word as well when it’s appropraite. Your extreme sensitivy is one of your greatest assets (as well as what makes vulnerability much more real to you than most), so keep on using it and it’ll pay off. It already has for others who’ve read your courageous writing. Thanks for the encouragement to me; writing indeed makes me (anyone) vulnerable, and kind words are lovely. Carolyn Sangrey


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