A friend, Julia, and her partner were doing some badly needed house cleaning. Julia is pretty tidy; her partner isn’t. When it came to cleaning the cupboards, Julia wanted all dust removed; her partner didn’t really care and said so. Julia got triggered and felt dismissed. In her mind, she judged her partner thoughtless, lazy, and selfish, when really, her partner just didn’t care that much about strict cleanliness.
When I’m mad at someone, it’s easy for me to pile judgments onto them. It shields me from judging myself, and from feeling hurt. So, I harden myself against that pain by shutting that person out. Shutting myself down.
Julie’s partner knew Julie was judging her, even without words, and retreated. This was a few days ago, and they’ve exchanged perhaps 3 words since. They’re both hurt, and both have shielded themselves, hardening against more hurt.
When I do that – harden and shut off closeness and empathy – I might as well be alone. But if I allow myself to remain open or to open up, I have a chance to discover what really went on for me, and for the other person.
Healing and self-growth happens only when we soften and allow ourselves to become vulnerable. To take a chance with the other, and be willing to take in our pain, and theirs.
The power of vulnerability
Quote of the Week
“Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among the mysteries”
― Theodore Roethke
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