Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I wrote this post in response to this video:

Watching this has really helped me understand my issues with vulnerability.

I don't numb with beer or food, but i do numb with anger. when i feel vulnerable i try to squash those feelings by getting mad, by running over in my head why whatever/whomever is "making me feel vulnerable" is the worst for doing this -- how dare they?! and like she explained, you can't numb the bad without numbing the good. my anger overpowers me and keeps me from the "whole-heartedness" that only comes through the essential connections that come from vulnerability.

she explains that vulnerabily is where "shame, and fear, and our struggle for worthiness" come from and but it is also "the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging and love." when i use anger to avoid feeling the negative, i keep myself from the "joy, gratitude, and happiness" that can come.

and the anger doesn't help. it makes me severe and upset, which only leads to more shame, fear, and struggle for worthiness. i fall into the negative cycle of it.

anger is part of how i make the uncertain certain -- when i don't know why someone hasn't called, for example, i push the vulnerability of that away with reasons that allow me to be angry, to put them in the wrong. to take my uncertainty (and the vulnerability of it) and give myself some answer, that they don't care or are selfish or rude, so i can again push away the vulnerability -- so that my worthiness is not at stake here, it's THEM not ME.

i blame in order to "discharge pain and discomfort."

Of course, this doesn't really work because sure i get angry but then there's always that thought that if i were just a little bit better, they would care enough...

and so i try to perfect - i try to figure out what is wrong with me, that i could change so that i am worthy of love and belonging - so i'm enough.

i need to better learn to let myself be seen, and trust i will be loved even with my weaknesses. i need to better learn to love with my whole heart, even when that love might not be returned, and trust that my loving can be a positive enough force to justify itself (even though it makes me vulnerable). I have to stop "catasrophizing" what could happen and BE GRATEFUL for now, and that I AM ENOUGH.

This is a big part of what the Atonement is for - it teaches us that we are loved despite our weakness, in fact, that we are loved because of our weakness:
Alma 7:11-12
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
Because the Lord has experienced all these things, he knows us: every physical and emotional pain, every temptation we've succumbed to, every weakness we struggle with, and because he has felt them and understands us so perfectly he is filled with mercy towards us -- he is filled with love for us. The word "succor" comes from the word "succurrere" which means to "run to the rescue, bring aid" (MW). He knows every bad thing about me and runs to me to love and lift me.

Understanding the depth of that love helps us understand how to love like that and lose our fear of loving.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:
When I struggle with insecurities and for feeling of worth it is because I am not seeing myself as I really am.

1 Corin. 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

The pure love that Christ has comes from knowing us perfectly. I am enough for Him to love me, and someday I will see myself -- and others -- as He does, I will "know even as also I am known." Until then I choose to trust the love of God.

I hope in the future, in moments of vulnerability, I will remember to rely on the Savior -- rely on knowing He loves me and I am enough -- and not fall into the trap of numbing myself with anger and blame. I'd never realized this about myself, to this extent, before today. Nor had I thought about how the Atonement can bless me with joy, peace, a sense of belonging, and pure love in my moments of vulnerability. I pray that I will remember. 


  1. There were only a few times in this video that I could tell this lady was NOT my favorite institute teacher. Here's a quote from him. (I actually found this quote Monday in a notebook in the lost and found, I don't know who wrote it down but I recognized whose class he was in immediately.)

    "Christ did nothing to shield himself from hurt."

    So I had a friend do a "how to" speech in high school on "How to be Passive Aggressive." It was brilliant but her point was this, Passive aggressive is how people who are insecure and afraid of vulnerability and rejection confront people WITHOUT confronting people. Listening to her talk about it helped me make sense of myself.

    So then I decided to be open and vulnerable and subjected myself to the worst first real heartbreak my sophomore year of college.

    I responded badly to that, I did everything that has been talked about in this post. I got angry and started pointing fingers. I withdrew, I closed myself off and it's true what was said, you close yourself off to the person who hurt you, you close yourself off to allowing it to happen again and you also close yourself off to the Spirit, to the Atonement, to the light that could heal you.

    I really try not to be blatantly angry or bitter, but I've resorted to a different response that is equally counterproductive, I start asking, "Hey, what's going on here? What's the big idea? Explain this to me? Where is this road taking me?" I begin to doubt in the meaningfulness of what I'm experiencing and the doubt creeps in that I'm suffering pointlessly and that is me grasping for control or certainty. Along with my demands for explanation I've even caught myself demanding guarantees of never having to go through it again.

    But that is not what the Savior offers us. He doesn't offer us guarantees, and he doesn't show us the end from the beginning. He's good at healing broken hearts though. Another quote from the same notebook same teacher:

    "When we harden our hearts, our hearts can be shattered, when we put down our defenses our hearts are instead broken open."

    I loved this. Thank you.

  2. I love your comment. Especially this part:
    "But that is not what the Savior offers us. He doesn't offer us guarantees, and he doesn't show us the end from the beginning. He's good at healing broken hearts though."

    To be vulnerable to Christ is the most rewarding kind of openness and one in which we will never be let down. But it's so easy to forget...and I think this is part of why every week during the sacrament we get reminded to "remember him" -- remember that he's there and ready to help and heal us.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts, it means a lot.

  3. I loved watching this again, and your thoughts added perspective to it. Mar's comment was also great! I agree with her observation about Brene reminding her of an institute teacher haha! I want to call her Sister Brown.

    "Christ did nothing to shield himself from hurt."

    A simple statement, but also a pretty incredible insight.

    "The only people who don't experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it."

    This made me less ashamed (hah) of my own shame. I used to never talk about the things I feel vulnerable and insecure about. When you grow up with 4 older brothers, you develop a bit of a complex in regards to trying to prove yourself, and hiding your insecurities. At least I did. I've certainly got a case of little brother syndrom. That said, I actually feel like I've grown a bit over the past 5- 6 years in this area.. I'm more open about weakness, and i deal with my vulnerabilities in a more healthy way. I've got a long way to go, and I still find myself slinking back into the thoughts and feelings accompanied with self loathing whenever I feel that my vulnerabilities have been exploited. My recovery time has quickened though.

    "The people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging."

    I suck here. Feeling worthy has been something I've struggled to attain. I would explain it away by telling you of my dad who grew up with an insanely successful father, and who he never felt he could live up to. I would explain it away by again cataloging my years as a child and adolescent under 4 talented and hard working older brothers who were sometimes over critical. Ultimately, however, I know it's a choice I've continued to perpetuate. But again, I do feel like I'm finally beginning to make some head way here. I'm understanding Christ's role as a lifter and not a solely a condemner. Stephen Robinson and C. Robert Line have helped me understand certain scriptural passages better, and I feel like my relationship with Christ is healthier than it's ever been.

    "Couragageous people have the courage to be imperfect.
    They have the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others.
    They have connection as a result of authenticity. "

    Self criticism is a something I've made into a habit. The words in this post are a manifestation of that, and this paragraph is even further proof that I over analyze and criticize myself. The courage to be your own imperfect self is something I think everyone struggles with to some degree. My feelings of inadequacy are deeply rooted. I feel fortunate that being open about my feelings is something that's typically easy for me to do. Getting them out helps me deal with them easier, and as Brene says, establishes connection. Last year I actually talked to my brothers about the fact that I'm always trying to prove myself to them. It's helped us grow closer.

    "allow our selves to be seen. deeply seen.
    love with your whole heart even though there is no guarantee"

    That last line is probably the most difficult thing, but for me the most applicable.

  4. thanks ty for your comment. it got me thinking about all of this in context with what i've learned since writing this post.

    authenticity is hard. it's hard to be totally honest about who you are and what you feel -- especially for me when it comes to sharing what i'm sensitive about and/or what my weaknesses are. i had never really thought about needing "the courage to be imperfect" but i've been noticing more and more that the times i close myself off to people and push away opportunities for vulnerability, it is usually because i am afraid to admit i was wrong or that i am incapable of handing something/overly sensitive... i.e. that i'm imperfect.

    but realizing that has made put me in a place where because i'm aware of this tendency i can catch myself and force myself to take the steps back and open up. by making myself accept vulnerability i've worked through so many situations in an extremely positive and fulfilling way, where i might have otherwise have just downward spiraled into negativity.

    i can definitely see how this is allowing my heart to be "broken open" -- it isn't easy or painless, but it is EASIER ...and it's incredible the love, learning, and peace that Christ has poured in.

  5. ...all this has opened my mind up to whole new ways of thinking about obedience and repentance...