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Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.

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Permission to be Vulnerable = Permission to Awaken = Permission to Evolve

I was seven years old when Elvis died.  My young, but romantically faceted inner-world Elviscontemplativeturned this news into a melancholy fantasy where Elvis was my husband and I was in mourning.  Upstairs in my mother’s bedroom , I stood before the mirror that hung above her dresser.  I pulled out a hairbrush and brushed my hair while pretend-crying and lamenting, Oh Elvis, Elvis.  I miss you already. I loved you…

I had no idea my little sister was watching this daydream come to life.

She had a ball telling my parents about the scene. I remember the laughing and ribbing. I remember my cheeks pinking up. I understand it was a hilarious scene, much too rich to leave alone, but from that experience and countless others, I learned to be very careful how I express myself. I learned it was not safe to expose yourself to judgment. You should hide any weak, soft feelings or behavior. Such emotions and gestures make you easy prey.

Wanted: A Safe Space
Before age 38, I had never felt complete acceptance and safety anywhere except with my grandparents. I had good friends. I had parents who loved me. I had a husband who loved me. But they were all cocooning their own vulnerability.  They were busy being strong and confident. With them, I had to be strong and confident too.
I felt unconditional love from Grandma.  I told her my deepest fears at 10 years old and she didn’t laugh or belittle. She just loved me in her soft, tender way.
people cryAt 38, I knew intuitively I needed openness and kindness.  I needed a circle of softness.  A safe space.  I believe I knew for years prior to that, but had no idea how to craft or create that kind of home. I only knew how to climb, achieve and fit in.
The Reflecting Tribe
I consciously gathered gentle souls — artists, musicians, writers, therapists, those whose eyes held twinkles, sadness and kindness. I pro-actively took lessons, joined classes and visited venues where the courageous, creative and emotionally accessible hung out. Music schools, bookstores, writing and dance classes, social services volunteering…
I remember sitting around a kitchen table with new-ish writing friends and feeling the intoxicating freedom of mutual vulnerability. We were all a little broken and in various broken_lockstages of learning and healing. We were all looking for a place where we could remove our masks of false bravado.
Lightness of being.
In that place I WANTED to share.  I couldn’t stop myself from sharing what had been locked down forever.
I moved from a world where mistakes were pointed out and right was better than kind, to a space where support was palpable and stories resonated.  Head nodding abounded.  My spirit soared.  It was easy to dream and feel grateful in that space. I wanted to spread that feeling, that spaciousness, but felt stunted in my regular world.
My day-to-day family life required all of us to have our shit together. No slipping, no falling short, no showing weakness.
You don’t want to be easy prey.
I don’t believe anyone in my house felt safe enough to be vulnerable. There was always a little sister watching and waiting to tell the story of our soft spots. Fear was in the ether of our home. We kept breathing it in and spewing it out. We couldn’t get it out of our pores.
manwalkingawaywomanforefrontUntil we broke open. Until we decided to end the cycle by ending the family as we knew it, thus, making us all vulnerable.
The Yin and Yang of Vulnerability
Life after divorce feels a little naked,  unprotected and separated from the herd. It’s scary at times but I see hints of learning and healing in my family.  Perhaps now WE can spread palpable support and understanding. Perhaps we will be the ones setting spirits aloft.

And I know that vulnerability is kind of the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, and creativity, of belonging, of love. — Brene Brown

Vulnerability expressed ignites the fuse of freedom in another. It’s a permission slip to imperfection.  It’s an exposed hand extended in inclement weather, reaching for warmth and providing it as well. It can be the catalyst for a life change. It is the source of the most profound connection.
Have you ever had your vulnerability mirrored? Have you ever let down your guard and found something extraordinary? Something hurtful?

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  1. […] Permission to be Vulnerable = Permission to Awaken = Permission to Evolve […]

  2. NicLou October 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    “We were all a little broken and in various stages of learning and healing. We were all looking for a place where we could remove our masks of false bravado. Lightness of being. Acceptance. In that place I WANTED to share. I couldn’t stop myself from sharing what had been locked down forever.”

    I’ve been trying to understand what happened when the dams burst for me and this puts it into the words I couldn’t find. Thank you so much.

    Sadly for me, the other part of the equation was a man who was equally broken and who wanted to share but when he found that freedom with me, he couldn’t handle it and crawled back into his shell of being otherwise, breaking my heart in the process.

    But I’ve learned, and I’ve grown and now I know how things should be. Now I choose to make things different and the future, although scary, looks brighter.

    • Brenda Knowles October 16, 2013 at 8:20 am - Reply

      For some the freedom is too open and unfamiliar. Like walking into very bright sunlight after being in a cave for months. It’s much easier to revert back to the known comfort of worry and self-criticism.
      I can tell you used that freedom and newfound vulnerability to evolve. Cheers to your bright and amazing future! 🙂

  3. 1dreamingirl April 27, 2013 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Interesting. You’ve created in me a longing to let down my guard a bit and pursue new friends with similar interests, in my locale. I’ve locked myself out of friendships except those few gems I’ve found online because of prior hurts and pains. Perhaps the fault was in the friend finding and I need to look for those more in tune with my interests and personality. Great points.

    • brennagee April 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm - Reply

      Once I ventured out beyond the social circles created by my home, husband’s job, kids’ friends and kids’ school, I felt liberated. I was in charge of choosing my people. There were definitely certain connector people that helped me branch out. My guitar and writing teachers were amazing resources for finding kindred spirits. The interesting thing is once I developed intimate friendships outside my usual realms, the people in my original social circles started to become more open with me as well. I think most people are longing to let down their guard.

      Best of luck to you. Start in places where you feel absolutely at home. 🙂

  4. Sandy Sue April 27, 2013 at 7:46 am - Reply

    The quote from Brenda Ueland about kidding made me groan out loud. My dad would tease until you bled. Years later I recognized this as bullying and abuse. Our midwestern, farming culture claims anyone who “can’t take a joke” is too sensitive—the ultimate shame. I still argue with people about how teasing is only fun if the recipient thinks so. I get lots of blank stares when I ask, “Why would you want to deliberately hurt them?”

    • brennagee April 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm - Reply

      I love Brenda Ueland. Her ideas and feelings were so aligned with mine. I watch my kids say belittling, embarrassing things about each other and then tack on, “just kidding” as if it’s a magic eraser of hurt feelings. I try to teach them to be kind rather than critical but it’s a tough battle. It’s good to “roll with it” and be light hearted but joking needs to be balanced with positivity. I hate to see anyone’s freedom of expression be curtailed by fear of teasing.

      I grew up in the midwest too. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I always appreciate your perspective.

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