When someone goes through a divorce or a long term relationship breakup, one of the many very hard things about it is the feeling of insecurity, (maybe even fear) because you are losing someone to whom you showed incredible vulnerability.
You opened yourself up, so that person saw everything. He or she knew what you were thinking even before you did, he or she knew your fears, your weaknesses, your insecurities. And, he or she still loved you. And then he or she didn't.
I'm a person who knows all about vulnerability. I've been in relationships where I barely shared, to the extreme of being in one (very long term which recently ended) where my soul felt completely naked. Which is better? Hands down, the latter. Why? Because I believe that a relationship without vulnerability isn't real.
Keep in mind that I also show my vulnerable self every single day in my career. Writing articles for Divorced Girl Smiling, Huffington Post and Suburban Chicago Tribune, might seem like I'm not exposing myself because I'm giving advice to others. Wrong. If you think about it, the advice I'm giving all stems from my experiences, which in a way, make it about me. In other words, every word on every page is me exposed. To quote Anna Nalick's "Breathe (2AM)":
"And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to"
That would be me. And actually, if you think about it, anyone who is in a creative field--writing, music, acting, producing, directing, advertising, fashion and countless other industries, is showing his or her vulnerability with every project they take on.
I also want to mention the immense vulnerability I showed last weekend, when my 49 ½ year old body was in the spotlight dancing in front of 420 sets of eyeballs, 99% who live in my community. That was terrifying. Do I regret it? No way! I embraced it and it was amazing.
Being vulnerable means putting yourself out there and taking a risk. Is that easy to do? Hell no. So why do it? Because there are gifts that come from the courage it takes to expose yourself, both in a relationship and just in life, in general.
1. It's like having real Prada bag instead of a knock off. In either your present or future relationship, don't you want the real deal? (hence the Prada analogy.) If you aren't willing to take the risk to show him or her your true self, the relationship can't grow past a certain point. Maybe you're OK with that, maybe not. I know I'm not, because I've been in both kinds of relationships. In other words, I don't do knock offs.
2. You are living your authentic life. I never particularly got the phrase, "Be true to yourself," until the past few years. Maybe you get it when you get older, who knows. But living a life that is meaningful and the best it can be means taking the risk of exposing what you truly are. People will either like it or they won't. And to be able to say, "If you don't like it, that's OK," is empowering.
3. It just feels good. Doesn't it feel good when you know in your core that you're not a fake with someone? You're really you and he loves it. That's just awesome. Being vulnerable can also make someone fall more in love with you. It shows you are human, that you are unafraid to feel things deeply. That is a huge turn on to most people.
4. You know your relationship is real. What if I show vulnerability and he dumps me? My answer: Then, he didn't love you. You will move on and eventually meet someone who will. And, what if you show vulnerability and things are still great? Then, your relationship isn't fake. It's a Prada.
Here's what vulnerability isn't:
1. Because one of the definitions of vulnerable means "susceptible to being wounded," people associate vulnerability with being weak. NOT TRUE. On the contrary, it takes an incredible amount of courage and strength to be vulnerable.
2. Sharing every deep, dark secret you hold. Being vulnerable doesn't mean you have to share anything you're not comfortable sharing. It warrants the respect to keep certain things private. Everyone is entitled to that.
So, you decide. Do you want the real Prada bag or the knock off? The Prada bag costs a lot more, but while it's on your arm, you will know in your heart that it's real.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, "Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.