March 09, 2006

On the Journey Toward Being Vulnerable

written by RITA O'CONNOR

"I can't." That statement was the first step on my journey to being vulnerable. The next statement took three days to emerge from my trembling lips: "" I was living as an assistant in a L'Arche home, and things were not going well.

My upbringing had taught me that I was alone. That I would have to solve my own problems. That my needs were excessive and would not, could not be met. This left me feeling very alone. To my heart's relief, when I asked for help in my L'Arche home, I was helped. As I began to express my needs, they were responded to.

As I journeyed toward being vulnerable, I noticed that my journeying invited others to do the same. When I took the risk to confess a fear, dislike, or displeasure, my companion did likewise. My heart opened. Softened. The increasing mutual vulnerability led to my feeling and being more connected to my friends.

I realized that a fear of judgment had kept me silent. Now I check things out. Sure it is hard to hear "Yes, I am angry with you." Often, though, the other person responds with reassurance. At some point on the journey, I realized that I was known. Known and accepted. Known and loved. That who I was, was good.

It is a fearsome process to speak the truth from the heart. Yet the fact is, I am vulnerable. I have made the decision that I'd rather live being vulnerable than be alone.

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