Vulnerability and Shame

by Jane Moneypenny

Vulnerability is not weakness…Vulnerability is the our most accurate measure of courage.

 Brené Brown, “Listening to Shame” (TED)

A week and a half later, I’ve returned back to a fairly normal Jane. Or at least faked myself into believing it. The tears are hopefully long gone, which is a relief to a non-crier like myself. The sadness lingers lightly, the hurt dances quietly in my chest, and the anger has mostly disappeared. The cycle of sadness, anger, regret, guilt and empowerment is a vicious one, isn’t it?

After days of over thinking and introspection, I’ve come to the realization that it was never about what he did, as disrespectful and cruel as it was, or the fact he saw me as only a friend in the end. These painful things, I know I’ll get over in a few weeks as time goes on. What really bothers me was how I presented myself in the short time we dated, especially at our last talk when I made the choice to walk away from a friendship.

I was nothing but myself, but I was perhaps my best self: nice, sweet, friendly and open-minded. He may have never saw all of me: the girl with the notorious dirty jokes, the almost mean quick wit and the ability to dance and have fun without drinking among the drunkards. But when has this become about “Win the Guy”? I have to let that go.

When I get past that, I’ll have to get one the true heart of the matter: vulnerability. When he left a long rambling voicemail apologizing, should I have not called back an hour later? Should I have waited for days? Should I have not gone over that night, exclaiming I didn’t want this in my life another day? Why didn’t I just confront him angrily and spitefully, taken my things with forcefully angry curses? Why did I have to emotionally throw up a mixture of angry, hurt, sadness and worst of all, vulnerability?

In the moment, I wanted to get every feeling, thought and ache out, so I spewed it to him, knowing I would never get a chance to say these things to him again. How many times have I hated the lack of closure and never getting the chance to express myself to the person that injured me? This was my chance! Then why did I feel so upset at myself days later?

I was angry because I lost the emotional advantage. I was vulnerable in a time that I thought I should have been Empowered Female. I gave him too much in the end. That loss of control sent me into deja vu into the old me, the girl that was in a very stupid emotionally abusive relationship for too long of her formative years. I had worked so hard to not be that girl anymore and for a split moment, I was back in that spot.  Even after I cried in front of my friends for the first time, I felt ashamed and embarrassed.

In the words of my friends, “Why are you not being a Jane fan? You’re being a Sean fan! Be a Jane fan!” Isn’t that the lesson I’ve been struggling to learn and remind myself all these years? How many friends (and blog readers) have pushed me to attract the positive and what I deserve? It’s why I packed my life with travel and hobbies and friends and a life worth living.

“There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.”

Brené Brown, “The Power of Vulnerability” (TED)

Logically, I understand the theory. Mentally, I’ve never been able to fully believe in it. Do I miss Sean? So much. Sometimes the ache knocks the breath out of me. But in the moment that I walked out the door and said I no longer wanted him in my life, I put myself first for once. In two days, I’ll be putting myself first in a fabulous European backpacking trip. It’s a start.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt