Written By: Alexandria Brown
Why pretending to be bullet proof is hurting us.
Recently I’ve been contemplating why I am single ..
Scratch that. It’s not recent. It’s a constant thought running through my head.
The truth is, I know the reason and it’s rather scary to admit. Opening up to people isn’t something I have trouble with, but being vulnerable is. And yes, there is a difference. According to Brene Brown, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” It’s about being brave enough to be seen for who we really are. The weird thing is that I have an ultimate love for when people are vulnerable with me; I just can’t return the favour.
This self-awareness became startlingly apparent after I screwed up something that deep down, I really wanted. In my attempts to seem less vulnerable and more bullet proof, I have pushed away many amazing men, men who weren’t afraid to let me see their dark and twisted cores that I’m sure they wouldn’t feel comfortable exposing to every stranger. But I could never return the favour, leading to eventual disappointment on both ends.
Vulnerability isn’t always those dark things someone pushes to the back of their mind in an attempt to forget them, it’s also the smile you get when you’re talking about your siblings or your friends. It’s staying up until 5 in the morning listening to records and laughing about random stories. It’s the fireworks in your eyes when you look at someone and say “I’m really into you.” It’s anything that let’s another person see the you that you don’t show everyone for the fear that you could wind up hurt – which is ultimately what we’re all afraid of.
One morning not too long ago, I opened my eyes and felt an unfamiliar heaviness on the right side of my bed. I felt myself smile; I was happy that he was there. I smiled because I had lasted the full night without a crazy panic attack. But then fear hit me fast and hard. What if he wakes up and regrets everything that had happened? What if he bolts awake and heads for the door faster than I can say good morning? It’s irrational fears like these that hold us back.
So I did what I do best and when he woke up, I used cutting sarcastic remarks to protect myself. I said things that later I wanted to punch myself in the face for. I skillfully played it cool and ultimately pushed him away.
When I realized what I had done (again), I ended up on the floor of my apartment listening to my vinyl record of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac belting out the lyrics to “I Don’t Wanna Know.” It’s a routine I’ve grown accustomed too.
I’ve also skillfully mastered the art of pretending like I don’t care when my relationships fail.
So what now? My advice is this; let yourself be vulnerable. Let people see what’s brewing under the surface because even if they don’t understand it, they will respect you for being yourself. Being afraid isn’t the problem, it’s being so afraid that it holds you back.
And if you don’t want to take my word for it, read some Brene Brown. She dives deep into the topic of vulnerability and the truth is, it’s not just our love lives that are suffering.
Or click and watch one of her most popular TED Talks.
Step 1 for me is biting my tongue when those cutting sarcastic remarks designed to ‘play it cool’ threaten to spill from my lips.