I have moments of vulnerability.
I strive to be authentic in everything and most of the time, I succeed. My intention is to always be authentic, to wholly inhabit myself, and to encourage others to do the same. I seem to have mastered the art of impermeable authenticity: sharing a lot, shielding more. I never give too much of myself away—perhaps fearing that I’ll lose part of myself that I can’t recover. In the few moments of vulnerability I’ve experienced with others, I’ve felt the unique ways that betrayal, immaturity, and apathy can impale tender, exposed Heart: jagged and tearing, hard, and fast, and sluggishly enough for the soft flesh to acclimate to its discomfort. As a result of these scarring moments, increasingly infrequent, I’ve crafted a facade that portrays a complete and confident person with extended hands and open arms WHO NEEDS NOTHING IN RETURN. To describe it simply: I’ve learned to hide my need, and I’ve forgotten how to let people help me. This realization came while sitting exhausted on my couch, on my third day of recovery after an anxiety attack.
I recently moved to Lakeland from my home in Plant City; the first move I’ve ever made. I’ve moved plenty of other people, but this was my first move. Several people offered to help me, and I said that I would let them know when I needed help and thanked them for their kindness. Never once did I actually consider asking for help. Indeed, I even conducted the move in a way that would be almost impossible to help me: I would load up my car at night in Plant City, drive to Lakeland for work the next day, unload my car after work, and then return to Plant City to repeat for the next day. This resulted in my not really moving in—sleeping at the apartment—until well after a week I had been given the keys. Every day since, I conducted life as normal: working, maintaining social engagements, being a super-human to everyone I could, while unpacking and moving and cleaning and shopping and furnishing and returning and nesting in the apartment in every extra moment that I had. Having not adequately rested in well over a month and a half, the simplest trigger set me off. This was no different from how I’ve always engaged life, only this time, I’m choosing to do differently.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the help offered to me; I was moved that people—selfless friends and acquaintances—would give their time and energy to help me in a way that did not benefit them. I realize now that I just never seriously considered asking anyone for help. Maybe I don’t like feeling indebted to someone else. Maybe I don’t like to appear as needing help. Maybe accepting help would let people too close to me. I’m not exactly sure of the reasons, but I moved by myself and started to feel bitter about having to do so, which. Made. No. Sense.
This is just the most recent in experience of my compulsion to handle things on my own. A plethora of other examples as far back as childhood illustrate this isolating—and dare I say it, self-absorbed—pattern. I feel a discrepancy between who I am and who this behavior portrays. What can I do?
I don’t want to isolate myself. Too much interaction with others exhausts me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need people. I’ve learned—in error—that I can handle things much better on my own. Maybe this is why, at times, I feel alone. I pick and choose which parts of myself are “acceptable” to share—and offer even less—instead of respecting people enough to engage me fully. In trying to self-preserve, I’ve pickled myself into something verging on sour. I want to share more and be myself more fully with others. My shoulders are weary from carrying everything that I’ve insisted on carrying by myself.
This is one of my clearest moments of vulnerability. I’m choosing to offer it up to you as a first glimpse into the parts of me that I’ve hidden. I need help in admitting I need help. I need help to know I can rely on other people and trust that they can bear me. I need help to know that, if I am betrayed or chastised or abandoned that I’ll be ok. I know I’m strong enough, but I can be stronger—with help.
I have moments of vulnerability. I’ve crafted a façade that hopefully, with this admission, I’ve begun to dismantle. Hopefully my next moment will come sooner than the last.