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(Post #1 in the Daring Greatly series, inspired by and in response to Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.)

Well hello there, all you thriving blooms.

I’m super excited to dig in to our first book!   This is the second time I’ll be reading Daring Greatly; the first was just over a year ago, when a lovely friend thought it would resonate with me so much that she gifted me a copy. And of course she was right; I loved the book, and over the last year, I’ve enjoyed watching Brené Brown’s work find its way into so many different conversations and spaces.

I have to admit, I didn’t even make it through the second page of the Introduction before I felt compelled to start writing! Rather than whistle and whir about whether I should read more before starting, I decided to just trust myself, trust where my desire was taking me, and follow.

The book opens with Brené telling us about meeting with her therapist around the idea of vulnerability.   (I can call her Brené, right? She’d want that, yes?) So Brené is declaring how much she all-caps HATES vulnerability. She admits that she’s only there because all the research that she’s done says that it’s an integral aspect of living what she calls a Whole-hearted life, the way to which she seeks to discover and reveal. So we are met at the gates with a beautiful perfect irony, as this wise and knowledgeable woman knows and trusts that vulnerability is the key, or a key anyway, yet is utterly averse to exercising the concept. And if you’re anything like me, that little glimpse of truth and, well, vulnerability draws you in as you identify with her and now indeed trust her to level with you and be real. And you might just go a little easier on yourself, as you see that even someone with all that knowledge struggles to follow through on it.

When she confesses that she doesn’t like the way vulnerability feels, the therapist asks her to describe the feeling. I started to read her answer and then stopped myself, deciding that I wanted to figure out my own answer first, without being overly influenced by hers.

So Brené Brown “hates” vulnerability, finds it “excruciating.” But me? Well, I don’t hate it. In fact, I kind of love it. The tingle of aliveness as you peel off the bandage and let air at the wound; the sigh of relief tempered by a not-small tinge of stiff-jawed apprehension, as you grimace in anticipation of fresh hurt when anyone gets too close – afraid that they will not recognize the wound without its protective covering, afraid that they will, intentionally or not, hurt you again in the very same spot.

I love the soft energetic fizz of knowing you’ve exposed yourself and waiting to see what happens next.  

So very often, the response is better than expected; people are kind, they appreciate your boldness and may even feel comforted by learning that they are not in fact alone in some thing that you revealed that pertains to them as well.

The speck of righteousness that lives in my still-evolving places can find some enjoyment in the less than lovely responses, when I’ve put it all out there and the other party tucks and runs and either bails or pretends not to realize what is happening, metaphorically plugging ears and lalala-ing to be sure my tender truth can’t be heard and therefore won’t have to be acknowledged or met. It makes me feel as if I saw the bet and the other players folded, as if by not chickening out I won.

Some primal part of me feels a spot of wicked satisfaction when presenting a person with my delicate raw truth and watching him or her squirm, face to face with the fact that the emotional gauntlet has been thrown and he or she is just not equipped to accept. Or maybe that’s just how I distract and protect myself from the rejection I feel when the acceptance doesn’t happen, when my own vulnerable abandon is neither reciprocated nor cradled as the sweet gift I believe it is.

Yes, vulnerability is scary, but there is something exhilarating about it too. Full of promise and hope, that perhaps the call will be answered, perhaps you will be recognized, seen, understood, and wanted.

Because the reason it’s so scary in the first place to lay yourself out, bare and scrutable, is that any ensuing rejection can no longer be sloughed off as the result of some variation of not-knowing or -understanding, can only be felt as personal, and can strike and wound so much more deeply into our fleshiest tender touches of soul.

But of course that’s the way the good stuff gets in there too ????

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