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Musings On Vulnerability….

I have been thinking lately about how vulnerability, even showing a little bit of the true essence of who you are, can be a double-edged sword that’s often used against you. You’d assume this is a lesson I might have learned a long time ago, suffering some of the most devastating betrayals in my life at the hands of not people I looked at as enemies, but considered friends…and made a valiant effort to befriend, even if I wasn’t always terribly good at it.

It makes me a little sad that life works this way, but I think vulnerability both scares and shocks people, and when it doesn’t, it gives people ammunition they can file away to use against you. I am very open and vulnerable with my feelings and experiences on this blog, and to a certain extent, I am that way in real life, too…it just takes a certain amount of getting to know me in order to accomplish that. I am aware many people don’t like that quality in me; it requires a level of openness and comfort about who you are that most people don’t have in order to deal with an open, vulnerable person. It requires a certain understanding of human nature and emotion.

Then again, I’ve had many tell me it’s one of my most endearing qualities. I’ve even had people fall in love with me for no other logical reason than the openness of my spirit, and a largely over-emotional heart. I’ve had strangers thank me for being a person they could relate to without judgment. As I’ve said, it’s a double-edged sword.

Recently, I spent some time getting together with a new friend, as I blogged about earlier in the week, and we had a lovely time getting to know one another. As a result, we kept in touch a bit after his departure—a rather unusual thing, as in the past, I’d hear from him on a rather infrequent and “Whatever” kind of basis—and it led me to believe that perhaps a true friendship was being forged from a relatively small collection of experiences. So, when we had a conversation about some of life’s “deep stuff” a few days later, I responded to him with a level of candour and vulnerability that I typically reserve for people with whom I’ve spent far more time. He thanked me for my openness and willingness to trust him with some of my most personal life experiences (in fairness, I was aware that he was aware of some of them before ever meeting me, I just didn’t really know *what*, exactly.)

However, I haven’t really spoken/texted/e-mailed/communicated with him since then, and the friendly texts I’ve sent keeping him updated on the craziness that is my life here in Atlanta and wishing him well on his out-of-town trip have gone ignored, completely. I do realise that this may just be coincidental, but even if so, it’s a horrible and painful coincidence for a person with abandonment issues to open up to someone she believes may be a potential new friend for some time to come, only to have that person disappear. I can’t help but remember the times in my life when such issues have happened before, when someone you’re attempting to become closer to decides “She’s just got too many issues for me to handle”, and takes off. I hope that this isn’t what’s happened, and that it’s more the alternative…in the fact that the Universe has created a situation involving the world’s worst timing…but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt by the thought that my candour and vulnerability would drive someone away, someone I jusged to be made of a completely different kind of fabric, and would respond positively to my willingness to be honest and vulnerable and to form a genuine emotional connection.

Anything is possible. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that not everyone is up for genuine emotional connections. Either they don’t have the time, the interest, or the prospect is scary. Regardless, I am always hurt when I learn that the hard way.

Meanwhile, I feel like my vulnerability and willingness to open myself up to other people in the hopes that they might relate to me with a certain level of humanity has been repeatedly biting me in the ass. Over the past 10 days, both my roommate and the mother of The Guy I Am Currently Dating (two of the most vitriolic people I’ve ever met.) have used things they know about me, my life, and the challenges I’ve faced in order to threaten me, blackmail me, tear down my self-esteem, and in the case of my roommate, to call the police and 911 to tell them I might be a danger to myself or others. Even something as simple as admitting you’re on medication for anxiety—something, incidentally, that many of these so-called “normal” people drive a person to need, because a human being can only cope with so much—is something that a person can later use against you.

It’s extraordinarily hard for me to trust people, and when I do put little tidbits about myself out there to others, it’s usually because I’m attempting to connect, to show a more “human” side. Someone once told me that he hadn’t initially cared to get to know me because I seemed like a typical actress, in his mind—far more like an entertaining character than a substantial human being. I never forgot that, because it was true. For such a long time, I’d been used to using my acting skills and large personality to create a persona that was rather light and one-dimensional, and helped keep the real me protected. It worked, but I found out that it didn’t allow me to have real relationships, and real friendships, and the kind of connections I value.

So, at some point, I decided to put a bit more faith in myself and my fellow human beings, and open up a bit more. I’m still a little more cautious than most, but I’ve been hurt more than most, and have more reasons to be self-protective than most. It is very easy to become an acquaintance, but takes effort to become a real friend.

Yet, when things happen—when people I genuinely care for disappear on me after I open up a little too much (some people have a natural gift for making you feel comfortable, and lowering your guard, wise or not.), or people I thought were friends or showed a vulnerable side to in an attempt to be real and win them over end up using those things against me—I still don’t blame them.

I blame myself, and think, “If only I hadn’t put myself out there so much.”

I once saw a therapist about some issues, many of them relating to my dysfunctional relationships with men and my inability to trust. I was young, and had a male therapist who clearly suffered from the “hero/rescuer/caretaker” phenomenon. He went from listening to me, to wanting to help me, to wanting to save me…none of which was my responsibility. Yet, one day, he told me he couldn’t be my therapist anymore because he recognised this in himself, and that he was developing an inappropriate level of attachment to me and had feelings that weren’t professional.

This was, of course, the right and ethical thing to do. But being young and distrustful of men and constantly hurt by being abandoned after showing any level of need or vulnerability, I was devastated. It hurt me immensely. I worked up to the point where I could trust someone and show that vulnerability, only to have them sever ties with me because of it.

The much younger girl inside of me wonders if my new friend has made the same choices, not because of any level of attachment, but because my emotional, vulnerable side is simply too much for a rational and rather restrained person. I wish I hadn’t made that mistake, that forgetting to keep things fun and light and happy, because I’ve been interpreting his silence as a sign that my openness has damaged what may have been a rewarding friendship.

The older, more experienced girl knows perhaps it’s not that at all…people get busy, and calling and texting and e-mailing to keep in touch with little old you isn’t necessarily the first thing on their mind. But either way, it’s an instance of horrible timing that’s caused a great feeling of sadness.

I think I’m going to work on more fun, less soul-sharing for awhile. *chuckles* And if there’s anything a friend could ever use against me, and I have even the slightest inkling that one day they might turn on me or abandon me, I should just know better than to hand them the ammunition. The abandonment and betrayal the situation with my roommate has sparked hasn’t helped in the slightest, nor has the threats and hatred and gold-digging whore references from the mother of The Guy I’m Currently Dating.

As a result of all this upheaval, I’m feeling in a really vulnerable place right now. However, I probably shouldn’t tell you that…you might just judge me, or bring it up as proof that I’m imbalanced years down the road.

So, no. Like everyone else, I have no flaws, except for my overabundance of awesomeness. ;P

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