Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hungry For Protection

Hungry For Protection
Vulnerability Is Power

Inverse as it sounds, it’s true. Vulnerability is Power.

File this blog under the category of underlying reasons addictive behaviors spiral out of control, because it is feelings of vulnerability that have sent me there more often than anything else.

Vulnerability is not something I’m comfortable with.  I’ve always considered it a weakness to be avoided.  Actually, more accurately, I’ve spent much of my Energy hiding the reality that part of the human condition includes sometimes being in a state of unprotected openness.

I’m realizing with more and more clarity that running from this open-hearted way of being has done me no favors.

As Brene Brown says in the above lecture, vulnerability is probably the most feared and misunderstood of all emotional states in the spectrum of human experience.  There tends to be deep shame associated with feeling it.  But when I give vulnerability its rightful place at the table, I suddenly allow myself to experience life more fully, more whole-heartedly as Brown says, because it’s actually not possible to fully experience Joy, Creativity, Love, and Belonging without owning up to at least a flash or two of vulnerability.

Of all the above benefits that come from admitting vulnerability, the one that most grabbed at my core was Belonging. Having spent most of my life as an outcast, I convinced myself that I didn’t care about Belonging. Didn’t care if people accepted me or approved of me. I thought I came up with the perfect answer: act as if I don’t need others, avoid trust and emotional intimacy, and I’ve given myself the gift of instant protection.

Not letting my vulnerability see the light of day was all about keeping the perceived predators at bay. I was truly hungry for protection.  Hungry to be kept from being hurt.  If I can’t control the outcome of something that really matters to me, why bother?  But I’m beginning to accept that living life fully and with my entire heart in the picture means taking risks.

So what’s my safety net now that I’ve agreed to drop the illusion of being protected? In some ways, admitting that there never really is a safety net is about as good as it gets in terms of protection.  There’s also a growing knowing that I’m going to be OK no matter what Life has ahead for me, no matter what obstacle courses of experiential wonders Divine Design has laid out, unbeknownst to me.  Ups, downs, and those unexciting plateau’s are unavoidable parts of it.  I’d love to be able to wave a wand over my fears and have them disappear, but nobody ever really grows in fairy tales…ever notice that?

Those of you who read HFTT regularly know I’ve been very open about why I had the wall of weight around me for so many years.  One of the main reasons was keeping men at a safe distance (and trust me, it works like nothing else). Only deep down, that’s not what I really wanted.  Evolution and emotional onion layers being peeled away revealed something unmovable at my center:  a desire to Love and be Loved. Even after decades of telling myself it doesn’t matter, there it was, still living and breathing, after all that time in lockdown. 

As Brown points out, emotions can’t be numbed selectively.  When I douse out vulnerability, anxiety, and fear, the Joy, Excitement, and Happiness get washed away with it.  So what’s the worst that can happen?  I don’t get Loved in return?  The outcome differs from my expectations?  That has to be survivable. 

Who knows, if I stick with this new game plan, feeling vulnerable may one day feel natural…perhaps even powerful.  Thank God.  Because I’m discovering I like the feeling of Belonging. 

Wide Open...At Long Last


  1. the beginning of healing begins in embracing the core of vulnerability and you have succinctly nailed this one on the head Stacey. When we begin to see what our deepest terror is, we can begin to hold that lovingly, with great heart, to move ourselves ever so gently forward into true self-trust. Its a beautiful progression in this growth process here, and it is even more thrilling to witness!

  2. Many seem to be grasping this realization simultaneously, and I appreciate you and Brene putting it so succinctly and for bringing it to the center of the conversation. Honestly, I am in absolute free fall right now, several unsuccessful ventures, bankruptcy and now I am down to confronting the complications of my severe scoliosis (my lifelong vulnerability), and may or may not receive help.

    Daily prayer and meditation have been my salvation, yet I have remained withdrawn, unshamed, frightened to show the pain on a face most have turned to for inspiration, frightened to explain the necessity of another new beginning. I reached out on Saturday by attending the funeral of a beloved neighbor (even asked for a ride), and despite my misgivings, I was warmly embraced.

    Something in my heart knows that I will find my way beyond this place. I have faith that there will somehow be enough, and that I will find the necessary courage to face each moment, no matter what it holds.

    Thank you for reminding me, Stacey, and for sharing this message as well as your journey. I am honored to walk with you, even if it's virtually....

  3. This really gets to the core of self acceptance and fully being human.
    When we embrace vulnerability, we become authentic and whole. What we are all seeking in our driven and competitive culture is not perfection....but wholeness.
    Thank you for being a light of truth by sharing your story.....

  4. Well stated Stacey and Mary. Thank you for the beautiful words. My conversation with you last night mirrored your written words here. WOW! Embrace YOUR ability to FEEL!! Being WHOLE means being OPEN to all emotions--YOU ARE AWAKENING from a numbing sleepwalk and you have acquired the tools to take this new journey--scarey though it may be at times! ATHENA

  5. EXCELLENT article Stacey!! It says so much of what I've gone thru in my recovery and what I'm working on right now with my therapist!! Thank you so much for putting it into words!! I can't articulate like you can :)

  6. Hi stace -

    Loved the essay. I can't believe your transformation outwardly and inward. I'm so happy you are happy, that's what it's all about. It seems your living life to the fullest and you deserve it. I know you're busy, but I would love to get together soon. Laur

  7. A beautiful post, Hon! Full of Wisdom.

    And amazing new photos of you. This one and your present Icon one... amazing!

    Hugs and ♥'s...
    'Cause Valentine Day is coming!

  8. God I love your work! Appreciate as always the honesty and the willingness to dig deep. You force me to realize there is still and always a lot of work to be done!

  9. Stacey, you are one incredible woman! Here you are, talking about the fear of vulnerability, and you chose to open yourself to the entire internet world! You just did something most people don't have the guts to do.