On Being Vulnerable

Today is the first snowfall of the season. I waited all week to sleep in this morning. Instead, I woke up before the sun and basked in the silence of the city. I read some and said a morning prayer. Then, I made my way to the gym, a practice I’ve abandoned a bit in the past three weeks for the sake of my writing.

Essay #43, a vulnerable piece on shame in marriage, is being published in a few hours through Wendy Angulo Productions. I made some more edits late last night. I dreamt about the structure and the lexicon choice. I brooded about where it was too much and where it might not have been enough. I almost went back to it again this morning, but I decided to let it go.

As I texted a sister friend this morning, “It is what it is.” Part of releasing shame and healing from it is just telling the truth and not worrying so much about what people will think of it or me. My nerves were in overdrive last night. I could feel them dripping into my mood like a leaky faucet. Writing the essay was hard enough – now to share it with the world, not knowing at exactly what time it will be released – let’s just say it’s a practice in letting go of control.

I’m more at peace this morning, with just some light jitters bouncing around in my belly. This morning the hum of the refrigerator and the clanking of my keyboard are my companions. I’m trying to take a moment to be fully present with my vulnerability.

For the record, I hate every single synonym that Webster Dictionary provides for the word “vulnerable.” I will list them in order: helpless, defenseless, powerless, impotent, weak, susceptible. I am vehemently in opposition to these adjectives provided as substitutions. Vulnerability is not a weakness, it is a strength. As the research professor and author, Brene Brown, says “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” and “our most accurate measure of courage.”

The Latin origin of the word vulnerable is “vulnis” which means wound or “vulnerare” which means to wound. Being vulnerable in my writing does not make me helpless just because I am exposing my wound. Am I more susceptible to attack or criticism? Absolutely. I don’t deny that. But by writing from the wound, I am unlocking my superpowers.

In his craft talk, Cave Canem, Chris Abani explains how “all writing comes from an existential wound.” He also differentiates between having a wound and being wounded. They are not one in the same.  Writing when wounded can lead to self-healing. Writing from an existential wound can help the writer connect with others in a deeper way and serve as a catalyst for not just self-healing, but the healing of others as well.

A perfect example of the concept of “writing from the wound” is Vanessa Mártir, the creator of the #52essays2017 challenge. She writes from the wound of being unmothered. That wound permeates all of her work and her personal life and her sharing that process with the world helps others who have been unmothered heal along with her.

My wound goes back to my childhood. It is a wound that one in three women carry, although I suspect that the ratio is even higher if we could count all the women who do not report their assailants. I mean – I didn’t. I haven’t written about it yet, at least not publicly. But it permeates my entire life even when I am not thinking about it. It has shifted the way my brain is wired and the way my body reacts. I am unpacking the shame on my own before I share that particular story with the world.

In the meantime, I continue to write. My sister-friend texted me back today. She said, “your essay in the world today will change and add value to those who need it. You have a gift sis.”

Thank you for reading this year as I ventured into vulnerability and courage. I hope you’ve found something that helps you.

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***This is essay 44 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir.

One thought on “On Being Vulnerable

  1. Love this piece! I know we will meet one day. I too find solace in the gym and also have had to miss a spin class here and there to give to my writing. I often forgo adequate sleep in order to write. I love the two quotes you used with Brene Brown and Chris Abani.

    Keep writing sis you got this!

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