The Black Crayon in the Crayola Box

Life-Lesson #9 Everybody Has a Story A tinge of self-hatred arises when I think about the color of my skin. When I was younger, I was made fun of because of the darkness of my skin-complexion. I remember being nine, … Continue reading

The “V” Word

Life Lesson # 3

Ah, the “v” word. That wretched word that no one likes to talk about, write about, sing about, or mention at family dinners. Whichever word you are thinking of scratch it. The word I am writing about today is vulnerability. Yikes!

Miriam Webster describes being vulnerable as:

1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.

Many people, when they think of a person they would describe as vulnerable, often define them as being weak, incapable of possessing an ounce of strength, and hurt. I myself have even labeled someone this way: a weak, blubbering mess, lacking potential. I’d even be willing to admit that I have sat across from someone, who at the time was bawling her eyes out, and thought to myself,

“What the hell is wrong with her? Can’t she get a grip on her feelings?”

That mode of thinking is one of the primary reasons we can’t even manage to let the word “vulnerable” slide off of our tongues without it leaving a horrid taste in our mouths. It turns out that being vulnerable with ourselves, our spouses, our kids, and our significant others is a key ingredient in becoming strong, self-confident people. Being vulnerable is hard – I know that full well. But, it has been my experience that it is more taxing to wear the mask of our pain, flaunting it as a hard, protective shell around our hearts.

My point is that vulnerability is simply strength disguised as weakness. It is a breakthrough disguised as a breakdown. It is our ability to confront ourselves disguised as our inability to accept who we are. It takes strength to be vulnerable, because in letting our walls of protection down, and releasing our hearts from callousness, we feel naked, susceptible to danger, and afraid.

The human response to pain is to close up, shut down, and shut out. We cut off the people who hurt us (something in which I have loads of experience), and we close up our hearts in hopes that we will never get hurt again. Unfortunately, our natural response as humans is not the answer. I want to challenge you to something profound:

keeping your heart open and remaining vulnerable when you are experiencing your most stifling pain.

Although this might sound moronic, behaving this way actually produces a wealth of healing. When we close up, we eliminate our ability to feel, to love, to hope, and even to dream. I challenge you, my reader, to be strong enough to remain open-hearted. In doing so, we can forgive, we can breath, and we can relieve ourselves of carrying all of the pain that other people have caused us.


I challenge you to be free.