Thursday, April 12, 2012

Having The Courage To Be Vulnerable

All my life, I have been afraid to let people see who I truly was.  Growing up in the house that I did, you had to guard yourself from what others saw in you.  For these people I in the house I grew up in, would use these things to their advantage and to my disadvantage.

You see, one of the most horrifying experiences in my life other than being raped when I was only five years old and then molested on a daily basis was trying to hide myself from the monsters in my family.  They would constantly watch me and if I showed any signs of connection to them, they would go in for the kill.  They knew they had me and it was like my power was inactivated in that moment.

As I grew older and went through puberty, the monsters in my family watched my body with the precision of a microscope.  If there was a the slightest sexual stimulation in my jeans, they would not miss it.  It was like that gave them permission to play out scenarios that had become constant daily routines.  Any young boy going through puberty gets stimulated sexually at the smallest of events.  These monsters used that against me to the point where I was afraid to be seen.  I tried hard not to let them see me, but it seemed to be inevitable.  The last time the scenario played out was right before my older brother got married.

In addition to this, my father seemed to love to watch my younger brother and I dress in the mornings.  It was like he was fixated upon us when we were in our underwear.  I don't know if he got his jollies or what but to this day, I'm still traumatized by this behavior.  Here I was discovering what my body was all about while my father violated any privacy that I ever had.

For some reason in our house, we could not have doors closed.  This included going to the bathroom, taking a shower, getting dressed or just about any other time.  If you tried to close a door, it was met with a condescending tone of what are you doing there?  It was as if you were doing something shameful behind that closed door.  Again, as a child going through the maturity process and discovering my body, vulnerability was like a weapon used to control and manipulate everything about my life.

As I got older, my mind didn't understand how being vulnerable was a good thing.  Adding shame to the vulnerability, I tried hard to only portray to the world what I wanted them to see.  I could have been a politician because unless I wanted you to see something, there was no way you would see it.  Sales people hated me because they could never figure out what I was thinking and usually talked to me in a way of getting an opposite response to what they wanted.  My teachers could not tell what was going on with me and in fact, early relationships were futile for my partners.  I was told more than once that they could not tell how or what I felt.

I've fooled people more often than not because in my mind I was manipulating them to see something I wanted them to see, but not allowing them to see who I truly was.  I still remember a couple of my best friends telling me that they thought I was the one that had it all together, after I suffered through a conversion disorder and had a mental breakdown.  If they only knew at the time, how much I hid from everyone including those close to me, it would have made sense to them.

Seeing though how the shame of "I'm not good enough" and "I may fail" or that I had always been told I was not good enough, is now a moment of pause for me.  All my life I was criticized for everything and told how stupid I was.  It was the shame that I grew up embracing as truth in my life.  For most of my life, I believed this and if I thought I could escape it, I was misleading myself.  When you are brainwashed into a world that is not your own, it takes every ounce of strength you've got to walk away from that world.  Yet, I remember when I was in the hospital,  my family was telling me how much they thought the doctors were brainwashing me!  Of all people to claim mind manipulation, my family would have taken the gold medal

I am now seeing that shame is what is holding me back.  It is what I feed my soul every day for breakfast and feast on at night.  The shame which was who I defined myself as while growing up, is no longer working for me, but I struggle to let go.  I struggle to be vulnerable because once I become vulnerable, I no longer have a need for the shame, the identity I have fed my soul.

This is the key I was missing in my life.  I am so thankful for Brene Brown being real and honest about her own life and struggles. She has helped open my eyes to how the shame I have identified with is not serving me in my life.  To be vulnerable means I have courage but in order to have courage, I need to be vulnerable.  It means giving up the shame, releasing it and letting it return to those that taught me these concepts.  After all, the shame was not mine to begin with, but somehow the monsters made me believe it was.  It is now time for me to identify and release the shame in my life by having the courage to be vulnerable.

To read more on this and watch the video of the speech given by Brene Brown that impacted me greatly, click this link on

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  1. I'm sorry that you are still struggling but I know from my own experiences that it's part of who I am and not sure that it will ever be different...marilyn

    1. Its an evolving process and I don't view it so much as a struggle anymore as an opportunity to discover more about myself. My life is changing and evolving, and each day it seems like I discover a new part of myself.






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