In my journey to finding my place in this world and sharing myself with it, with all of you, there are times when my vulnerability brings me to people who are overcoming with an urgent need to just hurt me, to shut me up. Sharing something vulnerable with the world is unnerving on its own, but to then have people mock you or try to hurt you by using what they see as a weak spot, it’s so incredibly painful. Not least because you could have prevented that by not opening up to start with! Almost as if life is taunting me with a big neon sign that spells ‘ I told you so!’.
Such one moment happened to me earlier today. I’m no stranger to backlash and trolling, but this time it was significantly different. It was calculated. Without going into details, I was shocked. Gutted. I started crying. The story I had shared, that this person used to hurt me with, was one of the most painful stories of my life, and I felt so helpless when I was attacked. My usual boldness and bravado didn’t hold up. I didn’t even try because the pain was electrifying and it seared through all layers of me. I didn’t know what to do. I was faced with so much pain, and I didn’t want to stay exposed. My knee-jerk reaction was to delete everything, stop sharing of myself, and deactivate my facebook. I wanted to run away, far away. Contrary to how I may appear, I hate being seen by people. If I could have my way, I’d be a hermit in a cabin by a lake. It’s easier to be anonymous than to be misunderstood. Every time I write something or post something, alarm bells go off in my head. And I hit snooze every single time. I choose to be present in the battlefield, fear and pain be damned! All those fears and alarm bells came raining down on me in a torrent of self-consciousness and regret. Why oh why oh why oh why! *You’re fooling yourself into thinking that your writing makes any difference ! You are so stupid and naive !!!*
A calm voice pushed up from beneath the sea of chaos that was taking over me. It reminded me that I should stay in this moment, and just feel the pain. “Own it – this moment, these feelings, this pain. Acknowledge it. Cry it out. It’s going to be ok. There’s no shame in what you did. You can’t control what people will think of you or do to you. There’s always the risk of being hurt. That’s the rent you pay for your place in this world.”
These words embraced me from within and I felt calm, albeit tired, the way the earth briefly holds the rain water after the rain stops, before it’s absorbed into its core. A moment of stillness after the clamour of raindrops beating against windows and rooftops stops.
As the chaos ebbed away, there was a newfound purpose in its wake; a renewed intention to tip the scale of this world in favour of the powerless. I had felt the fear, felt the pain of humiliation and mockery surge through me, and that meant that I was free. I didn’t have to live out my days locking it inside the deepest recesses of my mind, patrolling it so it didn’t come out.
I decided to go right back to the battlefield where my spilt blood had mixed with the rainwater. It formed a small pool of murky water that reflected the sky that had cleared of the rain clouds. I looked at the sky mirrored in the puddle, and I saw strength looking back at me.
“There’s nothing more efficient than honesty and nothing more powerful than vulnerability because, vulnerability reveals everyone in your life who will abuse power immediately and almost irrevocably.
There’s nothing weaker than hiding your vulnerability because, it means a refusal to stare at those who abuse power and see them for who they are which means they still have power and control over you. Nothing is stronger than vulnerability. Nothing more clarifying. Nothing is clearer than vulnerability, and if you hide who you are you are just making a tombstone of your everyday actions because you dont exist in hiding and you’re letting the past rob you.
Exercise the power of vulnerability. When you are vulnerable you are signaling to your system that the past is over and done! That you’re no longer a victim! That you’re no longer trapped in a destructive and abusive environment! Vulnerability means it’s over, it’s done. The war is over but, if you continue to use the same defenses that you had in the past all you’re telling your whole body is that the past is not over.
Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be open and show your heart. That’s the best way of telling your heart that the tigers are no longer in the grass. I’m telling you, just take it for a spin. Vulnerability and openness will get you what you want in your life and hiding will only get you the feeling of being prey from here until the end of your life.”
― Stefan Molyneux