When people talk about being vulnerable, they are usually referring to a situation where they were seen by other people.  Whether that was on purpose like giving a presentation or not like not knowing your fly is down or your skirt is tucked up in back, these moments expose us…ahem… to others.  We are without protection, without deflection.  We are the shiny object that has drawn people’s attention.  Our true selves are on display and it makes us feel.  If can give us feelings of fear, of anxiety, of shame or guilt, but it can also give us access to joy and connection and friendship and deep abiding love.

The thing is, being vulnerable is just as much about ourselves as it is others.  As much as we want to hide who we truly are from others, we want to hide it from ourselves even more. While a slip in public can haunt us for a moment, seeing who we think we truly are makes us squirm like we are being prepared for torture at the hands of the Inquisition. Just as words have power so we refrain from saying them because in speaking them they make things real, so too we hide our vulnerabilities from ourselves because if we become conscious of them then they will become true.  And once they are true there is nothing we can do about it. The bell can’t be unrung, what is seen cannot be unseen.  If we acknowledge our vulnerabilities then they become true and we will have to act.

Better to avoid them all together, right?  Better to hide them in being busy, in being competent and playing our roles and being involved in drama and fulfilling everyone else’s expectations.  Get a hobby, succumb to an addiction, take on a cause and tilt at a windmill.  Anything, anything to avoid knowing the truth about ourselves.  The wonder of it all is that sunshine cleanses things.  As long as we keep our vulnerabilities in the dark, as long as we keep our true nature hidden, our fears can prey on us and tell us the lies we come to believe.  If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable the sunlight can reach us and we can see clearly who we actually are.  Yes, others will be able to see us to the best of their abilities, filtered through their own masks and fears, but at last we will at least see the truth in ourselves. The vulnerable truth.