We’ve been informed that our fear is wrong. We’re not supposed to feel afraid of anything let alone cry when none of it makes sense to us.
The only way out is to appreciate and value our fear. We’re supposed to feel fear. Not only are we supposed to, we need it, simply because it’s a messenger telling us something is wrong and it’s crucial we hear it.
We may be doing too much and need to slow down or we’re not in a supportive place and have opportunity to make changes immediately.
The present moment may be informing us of something that’s ready to be healed from our past or we want to force a change in another or ourselves and need to take a step back.
In reality, there IS a threat to our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual health.
But feeling vulnerability is scary because we think it’s in that exact place we will be hurt.
So we grip, or lock down, or numb out, or act out, or put up defenses, or walk away from the very thing that fear is trying to ask of us to make a transformative change in our lives.
We think vulnerability means insecurity and that’s a lie.
I remember in my twenties one of my painting teachers, Carol Levow, carefully moseyed across from the corner of the studio with hands gently resting inside her apron’s pockets to check in with me.
Carol was earthy, lived in Northern California and was like a big sister to me. Usually, I was happy she was coming over, trusting she’d always take me to another deeper level in myself.
But one day when I was blocked, I felt her coming closer and tensed up. I didn’t know that what I was feeling at the time was great fear.
Don’t mess with me, I thought. Even though I knew Carol only wanted to help me unleash.
When Carol began moving towards me, suddenly, I was starving, obsessed with eating a Snickers bar. A Snickers was not my usual indulgence. I’ve had less than a handful of Snickers in my entire life.
But that day, I wanted a Snickers bar, more than anything else. I was so fixed on this candy craving, that when Carol walked up to chat about my painting process, I quickly rushed off.
“I’ll be a back in a second,” I told her and hightailed it in my Jeep to the local convenience store—to literally swallow my fear.
Upon returning, I ripped the paper off the supersize bar with my teeth and gnawed at chocolate covered peanuts, nougat and caramel, holding out an extra Snicker to Carol as a peace offering.
Closed off to her assistance and stuffing my face, all Carol could do was laugh back at me. It was funny, even though I took that Snickers bar very seriously.
All I wanted, more than anything else was any way to avoid what was being asked of me to feel. Even though the outcome could have been something potentially mind-blowing and life changing.
“I’m eating,” I said to her as she stepped closer to me. “Want some?”
Carol smiled, noting my resistance with a side-ways glance and moseyed back into the corner.
Resistance, I learned is only disguised fear.
That wasn’t the only time I met up with my own inscrutable resistance in those painting workshops and avoided feeling my vulnerability.
Once I was spinning out, totally pissed off, flailing my hands holding the brush and whining, trying to convince Carol that whatever she was offering to help me get out of my block was ridiculously stupid.
“May I have your brush?” She’d ask as if I was waiving a weapon in my hand. “Come stand with me,” she said. She stood next to me in front of the painting and delicately asked, “What’s the next color you would choose?”
I walked to the table to get some blue, wiping a tear. My vulnerability was gently arising.
Carol kept me safe with her nurturing, comforting big sister qualities. No matter what I was going through, I knew she was right around the corner, with her hands in her apron, sweetly ready and willing to assist whenever I was creatively blocked.
Carol challenged me but with love. I’m eternally grateful for having such a wonderfully compassionate and understanding friend there for me even throughout all my bucking up.
Partly because of her, I learned how to be on my own with my feelings and trust them. Eventually outside of the painting workshops in my own life, I learned how to stand with my own hands in my own pockets and meet my fears.
Wishing you strength in vulnerability!