Discovering Vulnerability

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When I started to think about my story and what portion of it I wanted to share I looked deep at what I felt like could help the most people, or at the very least maybe a single person. Discovering the importance of vulnerability is something that was difficult for me and is continually a work in progress. But ultimately, I felt compelled to tell this portion of my story.

The best place to start this journey is when I began my first relationship at the age of 22. I did not know what to expect going in, but it was new and exciting. I fell in love with this woman and thought everything was fine. But over time things shifted. I have always been the type to have strong feelings when I have feelings of any kind. I like to think of it as I can’t half ass my feelings and emotions, I just feel them too deeply for that. Therefore, my feelings for her were nothing light, they were at the time deep feelings. When things shifted I noticed that something wasn’t right, like a gut feeling but I wasn’t sure what it was. What transpired in our relationship starting just before the one year mark can only be described as toxic. I dealt with a lot of things with her during that time, that now I can recognize as emotional abuse, and it took a major toll on my mental health. I began to shut down emotionally, I put up more than just walls – these were so much more. I did not let anyone know what was going on or how I was feeling. I was isolated from my family and friends because she made sure she was the center of my world. I kept everything bottled inside because it was easier that way. Basically keep her happy and avoid making her angry, since she was all I thought I had. When I started therapy in December of 2018 I slowly realized how abusive my relationship was. On numerous occasions this made me suicidal, and I came close to taking my own life because it seemed like the easiest way to make everything stop. I did not have the strength to end that relationship because I was constantly told that I would never find anyone else who would want to be with me, and I had reached a point where I believed that wholeheartedly. It is hard to explain to someone just what it is like to be in a situation like this, most of the details I have only shared with one person. When my relationship ended in early 2019 I felt more relief than anything, like I could finally breathe. But I was still closed off from everyone. I spent more time with my family but still couldn’t break that vulnerability barrier, there was always that last wall that stayed up and that voice that said “Nobody cares, don’t make it their problem, be the strong one for them and don’t share what you went through and what you are feeling.” None of this changed until my most recent relationship.

In June of 2019 I started dating an amazing woman who I was lucky enough to spend 6 wonderful months with. When I started dating her I had even more walls put up. I had told myself that I should just stay alone forever because my ex was probably right, nobody would ever want to be with me. I truly believe now that one person can change your life for the better, even after they leave it. This woman took everything with me in stride, she never judged me for anything that I had been through. She let me talk about things I had been through over time as I was ready, and made me feel comfortable telling her. I had reached a point of vulnerability with her that I never had with anyone else. It is not an exaggeration when I say that she knows more about me than anyone else, including my therapist. I fell for her quickly and deeply, and not like before. I thought that I knew what love was before, because I thought I had loved my ex, but I was dead wrong. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I met the love of my life in June, and subsequently the one that got away. When you reach a point of vulnerability like that with someone, that you have never had before, you feel infinitely closer to them. But as is the case with most things, over time without me even realizing it my mind put the walls back up. I started to shut her out of my feelings to try and protect her. It was the same nagging voice as before, telling me to be the strong one and to protect her feelings by not sharing my own. Vulnerability is something I have learned you have to actively work at, it doesn’t just happen or come naturally, you have to sometimes make that conscious effort to remain that way. By not doing this I made her life infinitely more difficult and hurt her in the process. The one thing I had been trying so hard not to do by hiding my feelings. That’s the thing that never clicked before, that she loved me and wanted to be there for me and I should have let her in. I have had plenty of time to reflect on these things and have realized how important it is for me to be open about my feelings, I only wish that I had realized it sooner.

As we embark on 2020 my goal is to be more vulnerable with the people in my life that I care about. To be open about my feelings, to remind them that I love them every day, to live a life I am proud to live. In the essence of this and vulnerability I will leave you with some open admissions. My hope being that this helps at least one person in some way. So lets start with the vulnerability shall we.

I have been open publicly about my depression and history of suicidal thoughts, and I had been free from a suicidal thought since around January of 2019. That is until around a couple of months ago when they flared up again, this is the first I have admitted this at all. While not as serious as the times before, they were still there and are equally as scary after the fact now as they were when I first started having them. I can say that for the last several weeks I have been without them so that is a positive sign. My biggest regret so far to date is realizing too late the importance of being vulnerable with people. I am the biggest hopeless romantic this world will ever see, I truly believe in the happy ending for everyone. And in the fact that if people are meant to be together then they will find a way back to each other someday. I have learned the importance of having a tight knit friend group who you can trust with anything and everything. The ones that you can go from venting about your life problems with to having a ton of fun with the next minute. Going forward my plan is to actively be more vulnerable with the people in my life, to continue to love with everything I have, and to live life to the fullest. Vulnerability is a scary thing, but being able to be truly close to the ones you care about is completely worth it.

I end with my hope for everyone, that you can be more vulnerable, that you can love a little more and a little harder, that you aren’t afraid to fight for that love, that you let more people in on what you’re feeling, and that you live your life to be a good human. As always I am here for anyone that ever wants or needs someone to talk to about anything. Support systems are everything. I hope that my story was able to touch at least one person and make them want to strive for a level of vulnerability that they have been missing.

Live life, learn from your mistakes, and doing everything with a heart full of love.

Story submitted by Makayla.

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