There was a time, around 4 years ago, that up until then I was all about not letting people see the struggle. I wanted to be normal (and please don’t bug me about that word). I wanted friends. I had very few; it’s part of the conundrum of knowing everyone on the surface, but not truly being known by anyone.
As a small aside, I want to mention a difficulty of belonging to a group for a long time without forming close relationships. When you do try and reach out and form those deeper relationships, it is hard. I find it is also easier to be a newbie to a group and form relationships than if you’ve been there forever, but had never put yourself out there. I think it has everything to do with other people thinking that you must have a circle of friends; you’ve been there so long. But, to those people, I would like to tell you that it is really easy for someone to socialize in group settings and look fine on the surface yet at the same time have very few close or even kind of close friends. If you find that someone is reaching out, reach back.
There are a variety of reasons people keep to themselves when they really want to be out there. For me, it came from growing up being very bullied for almost 7 years and having maybe one or 2 friends and a whole heck of a lot of the opposite. That kind of thing does two things: It creates a heart to include people and also a fear to try to take a chance on reaching out to people. That fear of rejection and worse always stays with you to some degree or other and sneaks to the surface every once in a while. I label it as Bullying PTSD
I say that for because of that, I went for a long time, struggling under the surface of almost anyone’s notice. Pretty darn near alone. My house work struggled. My marriage struggled. My life became a tunneled-in existence that became centered around autism. I didn’t know how to reach out, and I was afraid that once I did I would be rejected.
I just happened to be lucky in that I had made a lot of superficial relationships and a few deep ones. So when I reached out, I at least had somewhere to reach to. Because I eventually had no choice but to step out.
Because I guarantee you, at some point in time in this journey, you will run to the end of yourself.
I mean when you have no more strength to carry on by yourself; when you no longer have the capability to put on a front telling everyone that you are fine and in control. You will reach that point if you are trying to do this all on your own.
Choose Vulnerability in Tough Times.
When that time comes, I want to encourage you to choose vulnerability. Choose transparency. Maybe not 100 percent, but at least to let people know all is not well. Ask for help, prayer and/or company. A listening ear. My time came a little over 3 years ago when I was forced to consider the real possibility that we would have to place our son in a home before graduation. It rocked my world and I was too weak to go on with a superficial smile on my face and say that things might be tough but we’ve got it. I broke down and cried, I rarely EVER cry in public (at least at that time). And when I started to ask my church group for prayer, I broke down. I cried, bordering on that ugly crying. I chose vulnerability. I wasn’t brave; my heart literally took over and choosing vulnerability was a non-negotiable issue with it.
I also had to reach out when life in general got tough. I again wish I could say that I made that choice unprompted by necessity because I reached out to a long time friend who I should have confided in a long time ago. A long looooong time ago. And what did I find. She was there ready and waiting to be there for me.
Unless You Say Something, No One Knows.
They were shocked! I had never let on that things were that tough at home. I had no choice anymore. I was forced by my situation to reach out. And, it was the best thing I have ever done. We received support, love, and a peace that when we are going through really tough times, we have a group of people who are going to listen and pray.
Make Vulnerability a Must in Friendships.
Making deeper friendships is still something that we are developing. Things like that take time. But, we are reaching out and realizing that being vulnerable and doing life in community is a life force for staying sane in the middle of life’s big challenges. And it feels weird, but less and less as time goes on. We just haven’t had that much practice. We were never designed to do life alone.
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
There is Strength in Vulnerability.
Long before I realized that Brené Brown was a big thing, my psychiatrist encouraged me to view her Ted Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability”. It was such a game changer and was a huge encouragement to take the risk of being vulnerable to someone. I included a link to it below. The thing is, vulnerability isn’t weakness. It gives strength and freedom. It helps a sense of peace set in. Unless we are vulnerable with others we will always miss the fullness of community.
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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