On being Vulnerable

#5 – A thriving mother accepts and maybe even prides herself on her vulnerabilities

Vul-ner-a-ble – adjective

Definition: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm
Synonyms: helpless, defenseless, powerless, impotent, weak, susceptible

Just the definition alone makes me not want to build an impenetrable fortress. Add on the synonyms and it makes me want to bury myself deep in it and not come out to see the light of day. Being vulnerable is hard, because we have to put ourselves at risk. It is taking the walls down that protect us. It is speaking our truth. It’s letting the world in on a secret that we aren’t perfect.
 
While the definition seems accurate, the synonyms seem far from true. Powerless? Helpless? Impotent? I think not. The kind of vulnerability I know takes courage, strength, a willingness to try again, grit, and bravery. Defenseless? Maybe. Susceptible? Yes. Weak? Not at all.
 
Vulnerability is a practice for me. Each day I find a way to put myself at risk. It is going out on a limb at work. It is sharing something that I would rather keep quiet. It is asking questions that I don’t know the answers to and have trepidation about whether I want to know the answers. It is trying something new. It’s letting go and praying that if I fall someone will be there to catch me.
 
I’ve been married for 14 years and I still have to practice being vulnerable with my husband. My body doesn’t look like it did at age 23 and maybe he prefers the younger version. If he sees me without my clothes on, it is near certain that he will see the extra 15 pounds I’ve gained. It is only in showing him my truth that I can learn that he sees an even sexier woman than the one he married. He sees beauty in my stretched belly, wisdom in my gray hairs, and can’t get enough of the confidence I’ve developed over the decades we’ve known each other.
 
Vulnerability is at the core of our relationship. It is the foundation on which all enduring relationships are built. It keeps us from moving into roommate status. With it, we are able to admit our mistakes and forgive each other for wrongs. Vulnerability is the thing that allows me to learn something new about a man with whom I have spent more than half my life… and desire to spend the rest of my life.
One can’t connect with another human being without being vulnerable. To connect you must first accept the potential for rejection. Find your courage and practice vulnerability today.
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This is the fifth post in a series inspired by one of my favorite sessions of the Warrior Mom Conference (#WarriorMomCon). Kate Kripke presented on Thriving After PMAD (Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders) where she asked all of us, “What does a thriving mother do?” Her list of ten blew me away and they aren’t just for moms with PMADs… they are for everybody!

#1 – Thriving mothers know feeling anxious is a normal part of motherhood

#2 – She is willing to be Good Enough (and understand that mistakes are even important)

#3 – Thriving mothers understand the need for self-fullness and that self-fullness is in service of her child(ren)

#4 – She understands the difference between habit and instinct or intuition and she gives herself the time and space to listen. Carefully.

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