Vulnerability Doesn’t Equate to Weakness

“I realised there is no shame in being honest. There is no shame in being vulnerable. It’s the beauty of being human.” – Melody Hansen

If we want to talk about ongoing personal battles, then it’s time to put the spotlight on me.
I try to avoid conflict. The type of conflict that blows up in your face and has the potential to slap you or the kind of conflict that could potentially sever a relationship if not handled well. The type of conflict that if it was packaged, it would be labelled “fragile”, “handle with care”. I try to avoid conflict out of fear of things going horribly wrong and not being able to redeem it. I also try to avoid putting myself in situations that will make me undeniably vulnerable because I then become the package that should be handled with care. And I’m not used to that nor do I like it. When it comes to being open and expressing one’s feelings, such things that I label vulnerability, I’m not even the last in the queue. I’m just not there at all.

There are people that I know that have no hesitation in expressing their emotions or their discomforts or their thoughts in that very moment. And quite often, I find myself envying them. I want to know how it’s so easy for them. I want to know how they don’t hesitate or even wince at the idea of expressing their innermost thoughts. And I try to suss out why it seems so difficult for me.

I cannot count the number of times I have been asked a question only for it to be met with silence. It’s not to say that there aren’t words or feelings it’s just that there is no connection between my brain and my mouth at that point. Sometimes, I fear that I won’t articulate myself well so I hold myself back other times I have fear of the unknown. If I tell you how I really feel will that affect things negatively from here on out? Sometimes, I think keeping it inside is the safer option. However, even that is debatable. Safer for whom? And safer how?

All relationships thrive on communication. Communication of expressing how one feels. I may think I’m safeguarding the other individual but at the cost of my own mental well being. At the cost of continuously being hurt by the other individual because they don’t know when they’re hurting me because my cries of pain are silent. It’s not feasible. It doesn’t make sense.

The popular analogy of the bottle overflowing is very accurate. Keeping all these things inside eventually causes it all to come spilling out because there’s a limit as to how much you can hold and also because such things are not meant to be held onto. The only part of the analogy I beg to differ with is the manner in which the overflow manifests. So often, you’re given the image of an eruption or an explosion but sometimes that’s not the case. Even a dripping tap can cause damage.

Occasionally, the overflow is not being able to focus or do anything relatively productive the whole day. Occasionally, the overflow is spent trying to find places for the leakage to be contained, finding quotes or talking to people that you hope can relate or understand or just see through you. Occasionally, the overflow is thinking thinking thinking of perfect ideal scenarios where you can let your burdens go. Occasionally, the overflow is indirects or rants on social media. And I feel like that’s the part of the analogy that was missed. The types of overflow. Not all people have the formula to combust. Some people only have the elements to steadily overflow and pour out into their surroundings, hoping maybe someone will realise that the water levels are increasing. And I honestly do not know where to begin in highlighting the faults in this dangerous method. You can so easily drown yourself without anyone truly knowing.

Vulnerability is not a weakness. I repeat, vulnerability is not a weakness. Some people will make you believe that your vulnerability is a weakness. Axe them. You may think about waiting for the right moment but isn’t it a coincidence that that never seems to come? Or you think that you handle it, you can move on whilst running the risk of little parts of it spilling onto others around you, not intentionally, obviously, but it happens.

The mentality of it being okay to express how you feel and okay to communicate your discomforts or when you feel wronged needs to be adopted by all. Avoiding conflict, in this manner, inflicts pain on yourself. Self-harm can manifest itself in multiple ways and this is definitely one of them. It is far more damaging to keep all of this inside. Do not think that you’re not worthy of expressing your emotions and do not think that doing so is a futile endeavour because even if it doesn’t reap the desired results, you have removed a burden. And that’s the goal, that is the priority: getting rid of the weight, preventing a flood from developing, preventing an eruption developing.

Your feelings are always valid and they are always real. You should never feel bad for expressing yourself or how you feel. Such things have the purpose to be expressed. What is the essence of feeling if there is no way of communicating it?

photo credit: me

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