Loneliness has a tendency to make us vulnerable. So in the months after my divorce, when it’s finality set in and I felt the cool breeze sweep across the empty side of the bed, the longing for an intimate connection was an unrelenting ache.
I met her through a mutual friend. She being divorced as well, my friend figured we’d have a point of connection.
And so began my lesson in vulnerability.
I’ll be honest, I loved the attention she gave me. Her calls, texts and instant messages made me feel valuable again. It was the friendship I needed and I began to open up my heart.
We had long conversations and she was a captive audience. Fresh off a season of life in which I lost my identity, it was refreshing to have someone validate my passions. She was a great listener, which made me come alive because it had been a long time since I had felt heard. But soon, the friendship wasn’t enough for her. She was ready for more while I was still in the early stages of healing.
I was content to enjoy the intimacy without the risk of anything more.
Each time the tension built, we backed off to take a break from the friendship. But before long, we would be back to communicating on a daily basis. We created an unhealthy dependency.
Because of this dependency, I had difficulty being honest. I was drunk on attention and didn’t want it to go away just because I wasn’t willing to take it further. It felt good to be wanted again but I was unwilling and unable to reciprocate her feelings. I took what didn’t belong to me. And in doing so, I hurt someone I cared about deeply.
In all this, I learned that vulnerability breeds intimacy —
which can either deepen a healthy relationship or exploit an unhealthy one. When we open our heart, we take a risk but the risk cannot be taken lightly.
There is an art to vulnerability. We cannot put rules and regulations on our heart. However, we can put boundaries in place to help us take healthier risks. Honest communication was the boundary I acquired to protect both my heart and the heart of others.
Healthy vulnerability is built on trust.
When you are honest with yourself and others, it’s always worth the risk.
Have you had good experiences or bad ones with being vulnerable?
[Photo Credit: Krisi Johnson]