In 2011 I was on vacation in the south of Italy with a friend. We were sailing on a small catamaran, there was a beautiful sun, a warm breeze and the peaceful silence that surrounded us would be broken only by the sound of the water sliding under the boat and the chant of seagulls. I hoped time could have stopped in that perfection. Instead, in the months that followed, a tsunami passed over my life, taking away everything that was important to me.
After a series of events, I lost enthusiasm and faith but I kept smiling and pretending that I was doing well. Everyone thought I was strong and invincible except for one person, who’s always been able to see me. That person is my best friend Alberto, whom I’ve known since when I was 13. One day, he woke me up pointing out how I was forcing myself to be Wonder Woman when all I needed was to let go and have a good cry. He had pushed the right button. I started weeping like a baby, I cried until I felt there were no more tears left in my body.
Crying is not stupid, it’s not something that makes us less stronger. Crying washes and liberates the part of our soul that’s asking for forgiveness. It’s a way to express that we’re ready to receive because our heart is open and it creates space for change. Have you ever had a time in your childhood when you cried all of your tears out and after five minutes you were back to playing and laughing? Babies and kids don’t fear to be judged when they cry, they express their feelings. I believe that learning to cry is a virtue.
Modern society has hypnotized us with the idea that “in order to be successful, we must project an image of success all the time” (cit. “American Beauty, one of my favorite movies). We’ve been raised in a culture where LOOK became more important than FEEL and we’ve been taught to armor ourselves against being exposed, uncertain, uncomfortable and vulnerable.
To me, Vulnerability is telling people how I feel, even when those feelings might not be understood. It’s giving up on control and embracing the unknown with no expectations. It’s being uncomfortable in intimacy because I do feel naked and exposed. It’s being open to listen and receive from others instead of wanting to have all the answers and do everything by myself. It’s having the courage to say “hey, I fucked up, I failed, I was wrong, I made mistakes, I lied” or to say “Hey, I’m not feeling well, I’m sad, I’m scared, I’m pissed off, I need help” instead of pretending it’s all going great when it’s not. Vulnerability is the only place where life is real and where magic can happen. It can’t if I am not willing to go there, it can’t if I don’t allow myself be seen as I am. The heart knows what the mind ignores and I strive to listen more to the first one and quiet down the second. It’s not easy and sometimes it’s painful but I know that pain is going to chase me forever if I escape it, whereas when I acknowledge it becomes my ally and make me stronger. Vulnerability is embracing myself as a whole, without running away from who I am, searching for the truth and sharing my story with the rest of humanity. That is the reason why I decided to write this blog in the first place.
On this topic, I love the work of Dr. Brené Brown. She has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame and inspired me so much. I recommend you to watch on You Tube her Ted Talks “The power of vulnerability” and “listening to shame”.
“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.”
– Haruki Murakami,
’Til the next one!