I owe you an apology. You are undoubtedly the bridge to the freedom I seek but I have maligned you, insulted you and shamed you. I have turned my back on you and run like a coward blustering my protests all the way. Through you, I might find myself, my authentic self, of this I have no doubt. But the freedom you offer comes at a price. I must be willing to trade in my suit of armour, my tall walls, my arsenal of weapons of defence, even some old friends; anger, resentment, and blame. I am at times reluctant to relinquish my hold on what has kept me safe.
Intellectually I know without making myself vulnerable, truly vulnerable, I can never open myself up to the incredible depths of love, connection, growth and contribution available through this gift of life. It will take accepting you as a strength, instead of a weakness to move into the deep waters of experience that I desire. It will be an act of bravery.
Without making myself vulnerable, I can never open myself fully. Open up to the things that make us grow the most. I protect myself, constraining myself, like a butterfly who chose to stay in its chrysalis instead of emerging to share it’s new beauty with the world.
As a man, I often chose anger; or anger has chosen me. My old friend anger did his job well and covered the real emotions playing underneath. Sad, scared or uncertain; while those words aren’t foreign to me, they aren’t always as comfortable. Anger was the emotion I was taught to express as a man. To be a man meant to hold it all together. Don’t show weakness at any cost. Instead when I am hurt, I recruit anger to become the bodyguard of my wound. When I am sad, I stuff it down and blame until anger rises to defend once again. This is what it is to be a man…or so I’ve been taught. By who? Society, history, family. It’s been inescapable. Anger is acceptable. Vulnerability is not. Anger is the fearful chihuahua barking at the pitbull named shame.
If I let anger continue to protect me, the prize I win is I never have to overcome fear; I never have to face myself. I never have to admit the fact that sometimes I don’t know how to navigate this world without a map, a compass, or support. The prize is I become an island, a very lonely island. I’ve longed to know myself and to share myself, to own all of the truth of who I am. I crave the depths that I have skimmed over the surface of all my life.
The feminine energy wants me, all men for that matter, to “open up” more. “Why can’t he communicate with me? Why does he shut down? I’ve tried everything.” What she doesn’t know is that it hasn’t been a safe place for the man in me to open up. Perhaps not a safe place for any man to show himself.
Partners past have also bought into ‘vulnerability as weakness’ and have thrown my emotions back at me as a weapon. I need a safe space to practice, a place to explore these strange new emotions. It will require a change in me, a willingness. It will require a change in her, a space for grace. Somewhere I won’t have to test the waters, to tiptoe in the shallows of my sunken emotions for fear of triggering her emotions.
Wait a minute…why am I so afraid of her emotions? I’ve blamed the raging feminine energy for making it unsafe for me to express myself and in doing so I have created unsafe space for both of us.I have maligned her vulnerability; the very thing I am asking for. I must create the space for her so she can create the space for me. Planting seeds of trust where the sharp rocks of rejection once rose. It’s up to me. Vulnerability, you are the key to freedom, The key to accepting myself as I am but I must also accept others as they are. I must be the one to go first and then to hold space. The change must start with me. I am willing to dive deep into the ocean of emotions that have been buried for so long. I am willing to tread water until I learn to swim amongst the totality of my emotions; joy, pain, fear, love, hurt, pride and all of their cousins. .. When I can come to appreciate all of my emotions as valid, I am whole. When I am whole I can love others more generously.
Shutting down is exhausting. I am weary of my old ways. I can choose my old friend anger or I can take a breath, call upon my new ally courage, and dig a little deeper to find what’s really going on. Freedom is calling me… I think I am willing to take the first step across the bridge to freedom.
I admit that I am scared. Step one.
I found the courage to start. I admitted my shortcomings, my fears and my insecurities to those who mattered most. Guess what? I’m still standing and with more connection, more honesty, more freedom than ever. It was worth going first.