They say that everything comes from the home. They tell us that our past experiences help shape who we are as individuals in the present. Like much of us, I had a less than grand childhood complete with a useless, neglectful biological father and the hateful, power-hungry stepfather. My childhood, by all means, was not lifetime movie material, so why bore you with specifics? However, I think having those past experiences with these two as “father figures” has definitely made its lasting mark on my personality. I, of course, anchored myself to my mother’s side and learned to stifle all emotion and thus my “resting b*tch face” was born. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the nicest, most hyperactive people you’ll meet, but I taught myself to conceal any form of weakness and to trust that nobody would stick around —that humans would always fail you. I swallowed my vulnerability and prayed to God that it would never find its way out of the back door.
I could control my emotions like a light switch. I took pride in being hard, cold, and emotionless when I had to be. I remember my stepdad towering above me, throwing his man tantrum while he yelled in my face. For once, I was unfazed. I smiled internally as I stared him straight in the eye with my best blank face. I’d hoped that my eyes were the emptiest he’d ever seen. Noticing my expression, he yelled in my face..
“YOU THINK YOU’RE HARD?!”
To which I replied…
“Do you want me to be scared of you?”
Even at that young age, vulnerability was my worst enemy. Its shows up, unexpectedly, with good intentions, but only brings feelings of shame, guilt, and weakness. It results in a loss of power and control, which in turn is triggers me to rule my own body with the iron fist of abuse.
Meeting my best friend and the love of my life, I was hesitant to let go of my own puppet strings. I was afraid to open up completely to him because after all, humans will always fail you, right? I have learned over these past couple years with him that I could not have a better partner to travel with through this life. I have learned that I actually want to expose my heartstrings to him like he does for me. I am learning that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. It takes power and control to be able to break down walls that you have built around yourself. It takes strength to be able to climb back up the well that you’ve thrown yourself down.
But still, I struggle sometimes. The other day after being intimate, I felt particularly connected to him. I was filled with this emotion that came forcing its way onto my exterior. I was, in a word— vulnerable, which was not a bad thing, but still I found myself apologizing out loud to him for the things I was feeling internally. I was sorry for the love and emotion that was seeping out from inside me. These were good things that I still felt the urge to repress.
I am still learning, and luckily I have the best partner to work with. Your self-worth isn’t tied to your vulnerability. Oftentimes, by burying our expression, we are also suffocating our identity and limiting our experiences. Both of which do not sound very fun at all.