On the Vulnerability I Feel Post–Post…

Vulnerability is hard. It’s really fucking hard. And I experienced it heavily in sharing my last post.

When I open up, it’s hard to move on. I simmer in insecurity, paralyzed by thoughts of my nakedness. Which brings me to the following question…can we express confidence and vulnerability at the same time?

I think the answer is yes. I know the answer is yes. Someone—I don’t remember who, but someone—whose words I recently read said that it’s the unique condition of humans to occupy two conflicting states at once. It may have been Johan Huizinga; it may have been someone else. The point is that this is true; the question is how to manifest it. How do I transform my vulnerability into confidence?  

The first step, I suppose, is letting in the love, something I often struggle to do. When I wrote my first post, when I wrote my last post, when I wrote my “coming out” post, and countless others, the response was overwhelming. So many words of love from so many people I love. And while validating, it’s scary; it makes the painful parts of my experience more real.    

There’s something counter-intuitive about public vulnerability, be it onstage, onscreen, or online. It’s easier to open up to the masses, to throngs of people you don’t know, than it is to open up to an individual, in person. That’s my experience, anyway. Talking about recovery in casual conversation makes me extremely uncomfortable. But talking about it publicly is easy.

I love when people tell me they read my blog—I really really do. After all, that’s what it’s here for; it’s meant to be read. But at the same time, when I hear this or receive any kind of praise, I don’t know how to respond. I appreciate the recognition, but it makes me self-conscious, and I often respond by closing myself off.

After I blog, when people ask how me I’m doing, I don’t know how to respond, even when asked by my closest friends. Do I hold myself to what I said in the post? Do I carry the content around like a weight, leading from my sadness like a victim? Do I say “I’m good” and pretend they haven’t read it? Sometimes, my blog feels like the elephant in the room. I don’t know if it’s awkward for both parties, but it’s definitely awkward for me. Awkward, or shall I say, sensitive.But as my playwriting professor told me last year, all you can do is keep at it, andas I’m privileged to be learning now, these interactions get easier with practice. I’m grateful for that. I want it to be comfortable. I would so much rather them ask than not ask.

I don’t want to resist sensitivity. To do so is to resist love. I, for one, love love, and I want to partake in its abundance.  So I’m setting a new intention: to stand by the words I speak and write, and to thank all of those who receive them. I want to remind myself, too, that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and okay to listen without offering a response.

The confidence I seek is already within me; it must be, or I wouldn’t write at all.
I should trust that. I can trust that. I will trust that. I do trust that. 

I spoke on the phone with a friend yesterday; I won’t name her but she knows who she is. I sat writing in the Tompkins Square Dog Park when her name popped up on my phone. We’ve been playing phone tag for two weeks now, so I gladly swapped my pen for the machine.

It was amazing to hear her voice.
It’s always amazing to hear her voice.

She told me that she read my last blog post, and that it made her sad. There was a short pause, and then she added, “it made me wish we could reach each other more.”

I was moved.
So moved.
And I had two instincts: one, to change the subject; the other, to cry.

I did neither. Instead I sat in, or did my best to sit in, the rawness of the moment.

I was upset with myself afterwards for not “doing the moment better,” for not expressing  to her just how much to me her words meant. 

But she said what she said and she meant what she said, irrespective of my response. She said what she said and she meant what she said, and Bella? That’s more than enough.

So, how do we balance confidence and vulnerability? How do we manifest them both at once? I don’t know. I don’t know yet. I don’t know the answer, to either of those. But I’m asking, and I’m searching, and I’m open to the answers, and that, like my friend’s words, is enough. 

In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not resonate with everyone; take what you like and leave the rest. If you liked what you read here, I invite you to share it, as these messages are for all.

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