The Gift of Vulnerability
As I sit down to write what is on my mind and in my heart about vulnerability, I dwell on the internal reflecting the external and vice versa. Was there ever a better time to consider what it is to be truly vulnerable in this time of near global lock down when our human vulnerability to Corona virus is writ so large in everyones day-to-day lives. Collective thoughts about vulnerability and how to stay safe are thick in the air. It is interesting to see how we as a society are coping and adapting to feelings of vulnerability. Like it or not, part of this vulnerability is an invitation to consider our mortality and the cessation of life as we know it. Definitely in the short term and very likely for the forseeable future too. We almost have no choice but to look at the tender spots within us that hurt when faced with exposure and change.
Okay... so I'll come clean and admit from the start that whilst my intellect knows that vulnerability IS a gift, other parts of me often wish I could do what I do with unwanted gifts and hide them at the back of the cupboard, never again to see the light of day. And of course this is exactly what I do for a while, but unlike a gaudy jumper or a vase that looks like it's been made by a blind, one armed man on acid, my human vulnerability refuses to sit quietly at the back of the cupboard. I am thankful (if slightly irked!) that it will not.
I really dislike feeling vulnerable (and yes that is a wild understatement folks!). Whilst I cheerlead like crazy when I see others do it... full of love and admiration that they have in truth the heart of a lioness in the moments that they feel they have the heart of a mouse, why is it so difficult for me to apply this to myself? I have become comfortable with being the listener, the knower, the soother, the sorter. I secretly worry about everyone close to me. I am the holder together of things and the ironer of problems. I even confess that my appetite for learning and developing skills (as much as I love the activities in themselves) are also about being good enough in other peoples eyes. If I am good at enough things you will like me. Like so many others, I find it hard to accept that someone would love the ordinary, messy, contradictory and slightly odd Sam that I am.
Yet I also know that if I am not vulnerable with my heart, I am not fully alive. I can continue to shield the bits that hurt or I can dare to let some light in, knowing that I wont die... although my heart races enough in those moments to feel like I might. All that will die is my fear and constriction. Feelings of inadequacy find it impossible to thrive if some loving light is shed upon them.
I am getting plenty of opportunities to be brave and shift patterns at the moment. It is messy and painful but I will not stop... even when every part of me is telling me to either flee, numb out or distract. I will stay with it. And in the staying with it I am once more humbled by horses. When I feel at the end of my tether and stretched thin, they accept me just as I am. I visit and stand a while and I am miraculously okay again. At least okay enough to go back to humansville to give it another go.
It is no suprise that horses can help us to
learn about working with our vulnerabilities. They have had to learn how to do this for as long as they have been around humans. Everything we have ever asked them to do for us has been a request (or insistence) that they overcome their hardwired vulnerabilities. The best of all horse and human partnerships are living examples of a relationship that has worked lovingly with feelings of vulnerability and has blossomed into mutual respect and trust. Isn't this the thing we marvel and enjoy the most when we observe these partnerships. The self work on both sides in order to reach out and meet in perfect balance in the middle. This is the beauty that we seek with horses and increasingly I feel, what they are seeking in us.
So to all of you out there who are daring to show up and be seen for all that they are, know that I am full of love and admiration for you and know that I am working on extending those feelings towards myself.