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 turned 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.
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.
At 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 stages 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.
Until 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?
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
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone. — Indepthwoman on space2live
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted. I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
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…
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
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…
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
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
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…