What If: True Vulnerability is the Cost of Love?

How much does that cost? We learn that question very early in life, and if you are anything like me, you understand quickly that it is always about weighing the cost. What will the reward or pleasure be? How much will I have to give up of ____ to have ____? I’m not a tempered shopper. I often impulse buy with little regard for the consequences. The same cannot be said of the 3 other humans that live in my home. When I shop with my oldest for a special occasion, I hide the price tags because she will not even consider a precious dress or a perfect pair of shoes if they require a financial sacrifice. I love this about my family, but sometimes I just want them to shop with their heart!

As I have explored the many things that we have discussed in the past 5 weeks, I have often asked myself, what is it going to “cost” me if I say this out loud? What if someone that I admire disagrees? What if I forever change a relationship because I said something that I can’t (and don’t want to) take back? These things are the risky cost of living as your true self. People will not understand. People will doubt your motives. Especially if your growth is producing a shift and that shift changes the relationships in your life.

For those of us that long for more wholeness in our lives, who are striving to connect with people in ways and spaces that our past tells us are not safe, we have a high price to pay. The more I love, the more I work towards healthy loving relationships, the more I realize that the cost associated with love is vulnerability. This freaking word. It invades my life in ways that make me feel like I am being consumed. Yet, when I engage in the quest for my vulnerable self, when I dig deep into the well of truth telling and honoring feelings, the more I find a new and profound connection with the humans in my life. The guru of vulnerable space is my girl Dr. Brené Brown.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” 

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

“People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”

Brene Brown, Rising Strong

There is nothing I long for more in life than to be labeled a badass. It is truly #mylifegoal. The word itself is rich, but the strength behind it is not found in the ability to tell someone off or manipulate a situation. A real badass is someone who can stare the scariest of the scary in the face, and with all of the trust and humility they can muster, long to grow and be shaped by pain. There is nothing in the world that can do this better or more completely than vulnerability.

When we get vulnerable, we have to release the outcomes. When we allow others to see the truth of our lives, we have to believe them when they say they love us. When we walk through pain and the shredding of ego that is at the heart of vulnerable living, we can receive the great reward of love. But then, and only then, do we have the ability to love in return. Here is my theory: without a genuine vulnerable exposure of self, we will always know that we have a way out. When we keep pieces of ourself off the table of exposure, we will never trust love. If you have ever thought, “they will walk away if they know…” you understand this truth. A vulnerable posture, a truly vulnerably navigated relationship, has no room for ‘I just can’t go there’ thinking. To love is to give yourself away, even the messy, fragile, intimate, scary pieces that are sure to make you think, “Why did I say that out loud?”

If you have ever had a friend or a partner or a family member that has been the recipient of your vulnerable spaces, you know this feeling. I have been known to fear the next conversation or even dread the time and space that my vulnerable moments will be used against me. And, in the spirit of honesty, that has happened. There is nothing that stings like that knife wound. But, if you have experienced the gift of ‘I’m still here’ or ‘you can’t scare me away’ you know the treasure of vulnerability. Hold it close, because that is love.

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