Friday, January 25, 2013

The Key to love is vulnerability

Malcolm and James
“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” - Brené Brown

Connecting with another human being may be the most important and difficult thing you'll ever do.  How can I write about this topic and give it justice? Words seem inadequate to describe the struggles we endure for love. Knowing I'm going to fall short, how do I move forward? "Lean into the discomfort" seems an appropriate quote from the talk. Even the experts can't always get it right. The video has a lot to say, but I feel a lot was left unsaid. This is the start of a longer conversation.

There are so many bears who hate their bodies. Even though our community loves big guys, a lot of negativity in the wider culture remains. They will hear the compliments and yet still believe they are ugly and fat. Harsh truth is you very well might be ugly and fat to some people and guess what it's okay. You are still worthy and capable of real connection and love. You have to believe in your own beauty. The only thing holding you beck is the belief, weather acknowledged or not, that you're unworthy of love and belonging. People will hurt you and cause you to isolate yourself. Sometimes you can't avoid the pain the end of a relationship will bring, but you get up and you make yourself ready to feel it again until you get it right. You have to embrace potential for pain. There is no other way. So why even put yourself through that?

"Connection is why were here. It's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives." 

You can't give up. You never will be fulfilled while being disconnected. That doesn't mean you're going to have an LTR of your dreams. It does mean you need people in your life who really see you for who you are and still love you. Hide long enough and you'll wonder if the assholes are right about you. But if you're loved just the way you are you start to believe in your own self worth. Once you have love in your life the next asshole who breaks your heart won't be on your mind as much. You'll just say "His loss" and move on. People you trust enough to bear your soul to are necessary to cultivate that deep sense of self-worth needed to deal with loss.  They give you the power to feel the hurt and willingly give that power to next person you love.

"When you ask people about love they tell you about heartbreak." 

Why does our mind always go to the worse things in our experience? We meet an asshole and think this is who I am We blame the world or ourselves. We are a prisoner of our own experiences. You have enough bad experiences you begin to believe this is how life is. People come in all varieties. You reveal yourself to an asshole and he crushes you.  Why are you fretting over the wrong guy? The guy who got away is never as good as you remember. What's more, he barely even remembers you, and even if he did he probably didn't know you to begin with. He's out of your life now and you think you're never going to do that again, but then you probably are. There's a reason you met that asshole in the first place and it's not because you're not worthy of more. You didn't know any better at the time. Life can be a

brutal teacher, but you still have to pay attention and learn. That asshole taught you a lesson (who the fuck to stay away from 101). Not only do you learn from your own experience, but you can learn from other's experiences. This is how narrative can expand your consciousness.

In love their is no room for shame. Shame kills love. Shame is the belief that there is something "wrong" with you. Shame is the question you ask yourself "Is there something about me that if other people see they will reject me?" We all ask that question, but if we ask it too much we feel unworthy of love and connection. You are not going to be right for everyone. It's hard to know who the right person is, but if they can accept and love you for who you are you're on the right track. It doesn't mean they're right for you, but if they can't meet that minmum requirement write them off as an asshole and move on.

The key to life is simple. Avoid assholes. And don't be an asshole. Anyone who makes you feel less than worthy of love is an asshole. Avoid them. Don't be a person who makes other's feel like less. If people are avoiding you this might be why. And for good reason they should avoid you if you're an asshole.

Shame is universal. We all have it. People who don't have it are sociopaths. No one wants to talk about it, The less we talk about it the more we have it.

How do you conquer shame? We have to allow ourselves to be seen, flaws and all. You can't show it to everyone (remember to avoid assholes), but to those who are trustworthy you can't let your fear of vulnerability keep you from being known. When you live a life where you can be seen you know that you are enough because you experience being enough through the people you love. "I'm not (fill in the blank) enough" goes away when you see day after day that you are. Excruciating vulnerability is the key to knowing you're good enough to be loved. But how do you get to the point where you can feel that vulnerable and seen. Simply it takes courage. You just have to do it enough that the fear isn't enough to stop you anymore. It doesn't mean the fear will ever go away. You just get used to it.

People who have a strong sense of worthiness, a strong sense of love and belonging, have it because of thing. They simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging.

Where does this belief come from? A lot of worthiness comes from our faith. In God we are all worthy. Each of us is a child of God and each of us is as important and worthy of God's love. This works for a lot of people, but the problem is that some portion of people don't believe this even if we say we believe in God they don't feel loved or they don't feel worthy of love from others. Worse is God doesn't make sense to a lot of people even though they won't admit it. And for some it's just replacing one fear with another. A fear they will never live up to God's expectations. This was avoided in the talk of course because it's not very polite. So allow me to be a little rude.

I am not a believer, but for many years I was. God gave me a sense of love and belonging until I realized I didn't believe in God anymore. On some level I never really believed, but I was able to fool myself and believe in the supernatural. I went through a crisis of self identity. What I discovered on the other side of that pain was that people still loved me. The world kept spinning even without a God and I still had to go on. I was still imperfect, but somehow it seemed acceptable. No one was judging me for being a sinner except myself. I am the only one I need to ask forgiveness of when I mess up. And I make up my mind what is a mistake and what is not. Things happen and then I form an opinion about them. I don't need an imaginary friend to tell me what I think is right or wrong anymore. I still hide this from people. The fact that I'm a godless faggot probably pisses off a lot of assholes, but I try not to be an asshole, so I keep it to myself a lot of the time. Of course my friends know that I don't believe in God because I tell them all the time. Of course none of my friends are assholes so there's no need to hide it from them.

You have to have courage to be imperfect.

I didn't come to a place of joy without fear or shame I still deal with those, but they are manageable now. I had to move through the fear. I had to let go of who I thought I "should" be and accept me for who I am. Whatever makes me vulnerable makes me beautiful. Seeing that fear and working past it to be honest with someone is the greatest gift you can give anyone in your life. Do you have the courage to say I love you first? Can you do something that has no assurances of success? If you can do something risky and fail and do it again. Can you do it again and fail again and still have to courage to try a third or fourth time? If you can that all the while learning from your mistakes along the way, you will go far in life.

We don't want to feel pain, bordom, sadness, or guilt. So we ignore them or worse numb ourselves with medication or comfort food. We light up a cigarette or a bowl and have a drink and watch some TV because we don't want to face the fear and pain. The problem is we can't selectively numb emotions. You numb vulnerability and pain and you end up numbing joy and fulfillment too. Either you live or you die. Pain and sadness are a part of life. It's not always our favorite part of life, but it gives us perspective when times are good. It is a part of the whole and the only reason it's bad is because we judge it as bad. It just is.

Let yourself be seen. See for yourself that you are good enough just the way you are. Love with your whole heart even though there are no guarantees. We make everything certain when we're afraid to be vulnerable. Embrace the uncertainty of life and be grateful for how lucky you are to even be reading this now. Practice gratitude and give back to the world. Give others the things you know you'd be grateful for. And know in your core, however you get there, that "I am enough".

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