I’m vulnerable and I loathe it. But I love it more.
Let me share a favorite love story with you:
I fell in love.
I felt loved back, he definitely loved me and he said so, often. He showed me by acting like it too. After a while I got to a point where I was wondering if we were officially a couple. (The dreaded exclusive). I finally forced the conversation with him about what direction our relationship was headed. He wasn’t having anything to do with a commitment! Even worse, he told me he was still in love with someone else!! I was mortified. It didn’t occur to me that he could feel like that about anyone else when he made me feel like the only person in the whole world. At the same time, I knew it. His words confirmed what my instincts knew already. But my heart ached. I was literally crushed. It was the first time that I voiced my love out loud in years. I felt like I had failed in earning love back.
A few days later, I woke up and realized that I did something incredibly hard for most of us to do. I took the risk to tell him everything I felt. I was so proud of myself. It didn’t matter anymore that he didn’t feel the exact same about me that I felt about him. I had told him and that is ALL I can do. I was still hurting but I respected myself for taking the leap forward in my life, for breaking through on a new skill. I was true to myself. I knew I couldn’t sit back and wait for others to make progress in my life anymore. I learned that not everyone needs to like me the same way I like them. Or love me the way I love them. And it’s okay for me to be the one who loves more. In the days that followed I developed true empathy. A little for him, those are hard confrontations to converse about, but mostly for me. I learned to be okay not being bulletproof. I was okay with failing. It’s going to happen over and over. Everyday.
Today, he is one of my dearest friends. It turns out that our love for each other was supposed to be just what it is now. And it’s wonderful. What was seen as devastating and heartbreaking became a lifelong friendship of the best kind.
I spent too many years of my life not telling people how I felt. When I was released from that stage of my life, I told everyone how much I loved them. Or sometimes how little I loved them. I have zero shame in telling now. It’s how I feel. I get to own that feeling. However, new experiences creep up on me, then shyness and fear set in, walls go up, and I have to learn to be vulnerable all over again with the new person. It’s hard work. I imagine when I have a relationship where I risk it ending by voicing my true feelings, it’ll always be difficult. While it devours me in the moment to say the word “love”, it always feels better on the other side no matter what the outcome.
Is there someone out there that needs to know that you love them? You should tell them. Right now. The world sometimes sees vulnerability as a weakness. I only see it as a strength. And while I fail at it all the time, it is exactly what makes me feel the most alive.