Musings: Vulnerability is Beautiful

…and it has always been beautiful.

I allowed my stigma of shame to overshadow my ability to understand this. I could never have understood this before Juan broke my heart. It took that rock bottom to learn this lesson, among others.

I’ve never been this vulnerable in my entire life. 

Not even with Juan. Not with anyone. I am, by my own accounts, a fairly strong woman. I am confident, I am strong, and I have a good head on my shoulders. The heartache and despair of the breakup have paralyzed me in my own shame, especially the stigma of shame. I know I am a strong woman and in my perceptions of myself and being this type of woman, I thought we are not allowed to be weak, we are not shameful, we do not let men hurt us. I am realizing the idiotic stigma I’ve unnecessarily put on myself — which is making the process of healing and grieving, that much harder. Feeling emotions is not shameful. Struggling is not shameful.

I have witnessed myself falling apart emotionally, in front of everyone. I am physically and emotionally hurting. I felt that as I struggle, I am not as worthy as other people. Shame seems to be a gateway emotion to self-pity and other destructive personal thoughts. Our breakup left me looking for the feeling of connection since it was abruptly taken away from me. Although it can be found easily with someone else, that would only cover up what I am truly feeling. The break up ignited the idea that I did not deserve a connection with anyone else or that it would never come again. This is where shame set in. I am not wrong for feeling any type of way. “Feelings are not facts.” But they are your feelings and you have to face them, instead of running from them. If I chose the later and fell into another relationship/booze/partying, I’d just be hiding from what I am truly feeling. I am so happy that I can see this. My growth is only truly visible to me, but I know it is slowly happening.

It is not shameful to struggle. I am not weak because I am vulnerable. I am human. I feel these things because I loved hard.

This whole process has literally forced vulnerability upon me. I have had to be the person who reaches out to family and friends for extreme levels of support. Usually, I am the support system for those around me. Reversing the roles, again, initially brought shame upon me. For some strange reason, I feel that needing emotional support from those around me is weak. I now know it is not. And I am thankful that I can see this. I have grown. Recognizing this has been a huge step in my healing process. It’s easy for me to come here or to go to social media and put a post out there about how I’m feeling. It’s harder to accept a friends offer for emotional support. However, I have chosen the uncomfortable. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable with people that I normally wouldn’t. Even though I have tons of amazing friends, I don’t generally allow myself to be that vulnerable with them, because I saw it as a weakness. I am realizing, I wasn’t truly even vulnerable with Juan. He is the closest person to me and knows a lot about me and how I think and process a lot of things, but there is so much more to me than I ever allowed myself to show to him. I’m slowly accepting that my vulnerability shared through thoughts and sadness are not shameful. I can share all of this with loved ones and not be embarrassed. Being vulnerable does not require self-hatred or self-pity.

I do not have to apologize for being sad. I am not being too sensitive. My feelings are valid. I have nothing to be ashamed of.

I still think about Juan more than I’d like to admit. I want these thoughts and the caring to stop, but I know it’s not a light switch and completely normal to still feel this way, even though he is no longer in my life. He still takes up all this space in me, even though he left an indescribable void behind once we stopped talking to each other. I am not shameful for craving intimacy. We shared it together for over four years. It is okay to grieve and miss that, but I cannot live in that grief. I need to use it as a tool to move forward. None of this is shameful.

As a person who loves to write, I found it too easy to send him an email or text about how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. He doesn’t deserve that level of intimacy anymore, even though every ounce of me wants to share it with him, even still now. So, I’ve reached out to friends, who have gladly stepped in as the receivers of my thoughts and words I wish I could say to him. I know that focusing on myself is what will get me to where I want to be emotionally. I can now also acknowledge I am grieving the potential of Juan. That is what I keep holding onto. It is not our actual relationship I continue to have hope for, it is the potential I saw in him, what I always hoped he would become or strive for. I literally have to remind myself what our relationship actually was, how I compromised a lot of my beliefs and the person I am. Juan walking away forced me to become the woman I knew I was and can be. I just couldn’t be her with him.

This picture has always resonated with me since it was taken (2016). Metaphorically, I feel like it describes our relationship perfectly — me always reaching out and trying to support Juan. In actuality, here is a little background to the image: Our zip lining tour guides showed us you could hold hands while you simultaneously zip. They showed us how to do it and we thought we’d give it a try. What was captured is me trying my hardest to reach out to him and him essentially holding on to his own line. He did try a little, but our first attempt was a complete fail. We did it a second time and he reached out a little more and our fingers touched, but we never fully grasped hands. As I describe this photo, it seems like it is even more metaphorically parallel to our relationship than I originally thought.

I can look back on almost all of our pictures and tell you exactly what I was feeling in those moments, many of them were not rosy and happy memories. But, the ones that were happy moments make me smile and remember that although Juan was one of my hardest lessons, he also brought good times and laughter with him too. I’ve also realized that no matter what I did for him or Lisette, it would never be enough to sustain a healthy relationship.

Therapy has been really hard the last couple of weeks. I literally leave exhausted after my 50-minute sessions. Physically exhausted, similar to a workout and emotionally exhausted. Adding those together leaves me completely drained. It is in this space, I have finally found the ability to shamelessly embrace my vulnerability and allow myself to say the things I’ve been suppressing during our relationship. All the truths I was trying to hide from myself have been coming out in snippets. Hearing the words I’ve been hiding from, come out of my mouth, has been emotionally draining. I believed there is shame in having these thoughts, shame in not being strong enough to verbalize them earlier, and shame in feeling weak about letting this all go on for much longer than necessary. Then I’m brought back to reality. I am where I am supposed to be. My feelings are nothing to feel shame about. I learned a very hard lesson through all this messy emotional heartache and pain. Shame is not necessary, nor is it warranted.

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” – Brené Brown

Self-awareness. Self-care. Self-love. I choose, no matter how hard it is on any given day, to dedicate myself to focus on these three things, especially when I need them the most. No matter how uncomfortable or hard it may seem. And yes, there will be days it almost seems impossible. And yes, there will be days where it comes fairly easy. I don’t anticipate it getting easier any time soon, but I choose to grow, learn, and heal.

I will be true to myself and honor my emotions.

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