by Suzanne L. Beenackers/ LS Harteveld
The last few weeks, ever since my coming out as the blogger formally named LS Harteveld, I don’t feel strong. Nor happy. Nor clean.
I FEEL ABSOLUTELY INVINCIBLE!!!!!!
It is tempting to say: “If you’re hiding anything, bring it out. You’ll feel amazing after!”
But I know that’s not how it works.
Because before you can show your true face, true feelings, true identity:
you have to be comfortable with it yourself.
You must be beyond the point that you need justification for who you are, or for what you feel.
I ve had an easy ride. No one has responded negatively. But the main reason I feel invincible is because I know I can handle any response. “They” are free to respond any way they like.
If I think my coming out is a success, if everybody is positive about it;
I m putting pressure on them to accept me.
That’s called passive aggression.
I would be making a villain or an enemy out of anyone who doesn’t respond the way I want them to.
Just like: If I believe “I love you” is only justified if I get an “I love you” back;
I m putting pressure on a lover to love me back.
That too, is passive aggression.
I m making a bad guy out of him if he doesn’t respond the way I want him to.
Vulnerability versus Sensitivity
There is a “stand-up” researcher who has studied something she calls “vulnerability”
You can watch her witty Power of Vulnerability TED talk here
The Power of Vulnerability is also the title of her books.
What she explains is how we all crave for connection. The fear that we have sides that make us unlovable, makes us feel disconnected. We suspect we’ll fall from grace, the moment the other, slash the world, will find out what we are really like.
She calls this our vulnerability.
Now between you and me; you have already fallen from grace, the moment you don’t accept yourself. And there is no other falling. Your job is to accept yourself. And when you’ve done that, you can stay connected to other people, regardless if they accept you as you are.
In her studies, she identified a group of people who she defined as living whole-heartedly. And what she found, is that instead of trying to hide their weak side or their true face, these wholehearted people didn’t judge vulnerability to be either good or bad. It just was. And they were going to take the risk of being rejected, the risk of failing, the risk of not being loved back. Because numbing that, or trying to avoid that, would cause them to numb all feelings. The good and the bad. They would miss out.
My theory is that Brené Brown, the researcher, is using the word vulnerability, where the whole-hearted people would be more comfortable with another word: sensitivity.
Because take it from me, the word vulnerability doesn’t have any strength. And no power except a destructive one. A passive aggressive one even. Describing anything using the word vulnerability is like saying “Boohoo, I know you ll hurt me! Boo hoo! And whole-hearted people are so courageous because they take the risk of getting hurt, boo hoo hoo!”
That’s not how it goes. I don’t believe that. Here’s how it goes:
The whole-hearted people accept the “risk” of getting hurt because they don’t get hurt. Not really. Not the way the *takes deep breath*
Because if you are comfortable with who you are, and with what you feel, you’re not vulnerable: you’re sensitive. You feel more than others. You experience more than others (especially happiness!). You make connection to other people, from a place of honesty and joy. And if someone rejects you, you can be emphatic and say:
“That is okay. You don’t have to accept it, or understand it.”
My uncle was a writer. And if someone didn’t like a certain poem, he’d say:
“Then I didn’t write the right poem for you. Maybe next time.”
That’s not vulnerable.
That’s someone with the mind of a Buddha, and the heart of a lion.