I am not a fan of vulnerability. In fact, I avoid it all costs. I dislike the feeling of feeling of being in a skimpy swim suit on a beach filled with Victoria’s Secret models. I dislike the feeling of people being able to see those dark places in my soul. I dislike the feeling of people truly “knowing” me.
Maybe that’s weird…but that’s me.
Over the years, I have put out just enough of myself to let people think they know me. I shape shift and pull out masks as I see fit in order to stay in the open without revealing my secrets. Without revealing me.
I’m not entirely sure.
Maybe it’s because I have let the wrong people in over the years and they have damaged me. Maybe it’s because I am ashamed of who I am not, wishing I was thinner, smarter, or funnier. Maybe it’s because I am insecure. Maybe it’s because I am lonely. Maybe it’s because I don’t really know who I am.
There are a few rare moments though where I let people get a glimpse. I add in a tiny window to the wall of my formidable fortress and let people peek inside. I even created a small, dwarf-sized back door by starting this blog and as I continue to write, that door continues to be propped open for longer stretches.
All this to say, last night during our small group from church, it happened…they asked if someone would like to share their story. Then they looked at me. I avoided eye contact like I might contract the plague. I felt my heart start to pick up the pace and I was sure that I would spontaneously combust at any moment. But my husband saved me from melting down and said that we would tell our story together.
He is good like that.
So he started to talk. He told them about where he grew up, what his family was like, and how he got into what he does. He talked about moving to Minnesota and meeting me. Then I took over. I shared what I felt comfortable, but I felt as if the words couldn’t get out fast enough. I was nervous. I was totally sweating and wanted to throw up. I pulled in the reigns as I talked, but I couldn’t believe how good it felt. I told the eyes that were watching me that I was insecure. I was broken. I was learning. I was still working through the whole “God thing” and sometimes felt out of place. My husband and I talked about how we realized early on in our marriage that we didn’t know who we were as individuals and therefore had to start over as a couple and had a few rough years. We talked about waiting and desiring redemption for our stories. That we have to own them…not wallow in them.
When it was all over, I felt amazing…and then the panic set in. I had just totally kicked the door of vulnerability wide open to a group of people that I enjoyed the company of, but I suddenly wondered if I had just become “that person” and would be treated differently. I jokingly told my husband as we got in our car that we could now never go back to our small group because they knew too much.
Maybe it was jokingly…
Here’s the thing…as I look back over 32 years on this planet, I am often finding myself wanting so much more. I want more meaningful friendships. I want more spontaneity. I want more of the feelings. I want to feel as if I have done something…anything. But I realized a while back that I can’t have any of that unless I let go of some of myself. I have to tear down some of my walls and let people in. I have to stop wondering what is wrong with everyone else and start working on me.
Plain and simple.
Or maybe not.
But at least I am finally ready to take some of the steps that head in the right direction. Even if they are baby steps that seem to spend more time hesitating than actually moving.
I have an amazing husband who has always believed in me…especially when I didn’t (and don’t) believe in myself. He is my cheerleader and my biggest fan. I am so thankful for him.
I never realized what having kids would do to and for me. And I don’t mean my post-baby body (I’m working on it…slowly), I mean for my self-esteem. For my understanding of who I am and why I do what I do. They have defined me in ways that I never could have anticipated. And they make me better because they believe I’m better. In fact, they believe that I’m everything I have a hard time even considering of myself. I am blown away by them. And I love them more than anything else on this planet.
To my husband, thank you for always believing in me. I know I can be a tough nut to crack, but you stick with me and continue to guide me in the right direction. I am nothing without you.
To my kiddos, you are the brightest light in my life. You are my greatest joys and I love you both to the moon and back. Thank you for loving me even when I tell you “No more cookies”.
To my close friends and family, thank you for being you and pressing into me. I may not always be grateful in the moment, but I am grateful in the long run. Thank you for bearing with me and being able to read between the lines of my crazy. You keep me from being lonely.
And to my amazing small group, thank you for asking. Thank you for being there. Thank you for opening up your arms for me. It frees me and pushes me and motivates me. Every little step is worth it. You guys are amazing.
Thank you all for showing me the door to vulnerability and holding my hand as I walk through it.