the risk of vulnerability

I wrote this the other night, when I was feeling particularly vulnerable after sharing some personal things. I always have this moment of panic that ‘everyone will hate me now’.

I sent a blogger a guest post submission.
I told someone about this blog.
I shared my whole bipolar stigma story.
I admitted how messed up my mind can be.

And each time, I began suffocating from the fear of rejection. What if knowing a little (or a lot) more about me makes everyone hate me?
I get scared.
It feels dangerous to be open with people. I have never been widely liked; even my mom frequently said, ‘I love you but I don’t like you right now’. Quite frequently.

Affection seems to be an easy thing to lose.
I am afraid that the more open I am, the more people know me, the less they will like me.
That I will open myself up and hope to be loved and people will pour hatred into the open spaces – or that they’ll dislike or reject me.
Or they might ignore it, when in my mind it was the essence of myself that I was bravely sharing.

I want to be liked. I do.
I want to be liked as me though. As honest me.
But sometimes I feel like I can’t ask people to put up with that — with me. Honest me is a bit of a wreck. And I don’t always quite understand myself. And I frequently dislike myself, although sometimes I like myself.
I blog into mostly silence, and while all responses are encouraging, I wonder if the silent are secretly hating me.

I close up, frightened.

I was 25 this morning but now I am vulnerable and 14 and crying because I don’t have friends to hang out with, and I am so afraid of being unloved.
When I try to talk with the girls at church, I somehow say all the wrong things. They mock me. They talk behind my back and the younger sister of a girl I thought was my friend tells me about it. I can’t look my ‘friends’ in the eyes.

The youth minister thinks it is funny to tease me in front of everyone.
I retreat into self.
My parents threaten to break my glasses and cut off my hair because I hide in them, they say. The threat doesn’t work and isn’t carried out.
I don’t want to be noticed.
To be noticed, to be known, is to be scorned and rejected.

I am twelve and quiet, first time at a youth retreat. When anyone does pay attention to me, words rush out. A senior says I look like I’m in a mid-life crisis. I don’t know what he means, but I know it means I should shut up. I do.
I try to fit in with the other girls, but I don’t know how to be a normal teen girl. I feel awkward and young and don’t fit into their conversations. If I speak, my voice feels like it is coming from far away, unnatural even to me. In my imagination, I am witty and have so many friends. In reality, I feel so alone.

The whole group goes out for ice cream. I look in my wallet. Only enough for a plain cone if I want to eat on the way home. Everyone else will be eating Blizzards. Darren, another older guy, pries my favorite flavor out of me and buys me a large Blizzard. I can’t even finish it, but it was good.

He talks to me sometimes at youth group, Darren does.

A lens comes out of my glasses one day. I can’t see to find it. He helps me look.
Another time, playing touch football, another guy keeps touching me too much. I’m too innocent to even realize what he is doing but I know it makes me feel yuck, but Darren tells him to stop.
We don’t really hang out, but I know that he has my back.
I am grateful for one person looking out for the awkward new girl.

Sometimes to be noticed is to be cared for.

But it’s risky.
It’s risky to be out there, and to know that though people might like you, they also might ignore you, hate you, or reject you. That if you are honest about who you are, people might look into your true self and spit at it — which hurts so much more than when they spit at your mask.

Life is risky.
Will I shut up, or open up?
I’m writing, aren’t I? Of course, most of my friends don’t know…
Shut up, open up.
Shut up? Open up?
I don’t know.
It’s risky.

3 thoughts on “the risk of vulnerability

  1. Pingback: Why Believing 'Nothing to Hide' Leaves You Vulnerable

  2. Snipe

    I hear you about blogging into the silence and being vulnerable. My blog has had two individual responses, but I don’t do it for them. I do it for me. It is risky, but it is rewarding, too. It’s especially good when you’re able to move past the fear and anxiety into comfortable self-acceptance. It can be hard to get to that place, but it’s worth it. As someone who’s suffered significant social anxiety, depression, and fear, then overcome those things, I can tell you it’s worth it. Chin up.

  3. Pingback: worth it | Lana Hobbs the Brave

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