My journey with the word Open has continued to shift this last month in a sort of miraculous way. From the work I have been doing, both with my therapist and with my life coach, I have realized that my resistance towards this word was because I viewed being open as being vulnerable. And vulnerability and I have never exactly been . . . friends. I’ve defined vulnerability as weakness. As failure. As something to protect myself against.
All that is changing, though. These days I think about being open (or vulnerable, take your pick) as a gift. And the remarkable thing is that it’s a gift that isn’t just for me but is also for others. My family. My colleagues. My readers. When I allow myself to be open and share with all of you the things that have happened to me and the lessons I have learned from those things it allows us to connect. I mean, I sure as hell hope you never have a spouse get hit by a car while mowing the lawn. And yet, when I write about that and share with you all of the feelings that followed, the panic attacks, the helplessness, the fear, maybe then you take that and relate it to something in your life. And maybe you learn from it and use it in a way that makes things better for you. Maybe my traumatic experiences (and there have been more than a few) and my recovery from them can help you understand your life better.
That’s the dream, anyway.
Last month I wrote about watching and waiting for what comes next. I’m still very much in that space but I think some of what comes next is starting to formulate in my head. And I think it’s all about being open to sharing my stories . . . all of my stories . . . with you.
I definitely relate to the part where being open equals being vulnerable. One of my great lessons as an adult has been that when you surround yourself with good people being vulnerable is a little less scary. That those people will raise up and meet you in that hard place because they want to be there with you for the challenging times as well as the fun. Hope this is true for you as well.
Perhaps “vulnerable” isn’t the best word for what being open leads to; it does have a negative connotation and implies weakness. I think what I’ve seen from you over the past nine months in your embrace (albeit sometimes grudgingly) of “open” is a willingness to be flexible or pliable, to allow yourself to be changed or improved based upon what’s come into your life. When Dale was injured, your initial response was naturally worry and fear, but you also quickly embraced your role as caregiver, and as much as you say that Dale is the strong one in your relationship, you also showed incredible strength in caring for him.
My heart is just kind of exploding a little over here.
Vulnerable has some of the same connotations for me, and perhaps being more open does lead you to be more vulnerable. But even if being vulnerable does mean you may be more open to being hurt, maybe it also means you are more open to love from your family and those around you. I think Robby is on to something with surrounding herself with good people, and I think you have done that.
Each time you post about your word OPEN, I get the feeling it has been the perfect choice for you this year!
And we are here with open hearts hearing and sharing your journey!
Lots to think about…
This is simply the best post, Carole! Bravo to you!
I started Brené Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection (no idea how I managed to not read these past ten years!) … she is the champion of vulnerability and I am here for it!
I love how you keep revisiting what this word means for you, and where you feel it will take you.
Carolyn Seymour Thomas says
Carole, we certainly don’t know each other, so this might be a little, I don’t know, strange…But I deeply appreciate your willingness here. Over the past year I’ve found myself seeking other people’s stories of Resilience. I think it’s because, as a trauma survivor, I see myself as having been anything BUT resilient for the majority of my life. I see myself as someone who was held down by her trauma for 31 years; it wasn’t until a few years ago that I felt I deserved to experience Joy or have Worth. And it’s my daily work to stay there. So I guess what I’m saying is, yeah, your openness helps others—some, in ways you’ll never know. So I thank you.