“There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”–Washington Irving
Learning to gently reveal who we are at the core of our identity is the path to opening ourselves up to love and intimacy in our relationships. Yet it is so difficult to do!
Typically we hide behind a protective shield, preventing others from fully seeing us. We are wary of exposing our feelings. We do not want others to see who we really are because we are afraid they may judge us harshly.
Being vulnerable can be frightening, especially if we have a childhood history of being unappreciated. We withhold, omitting what we think speaks poorly of us, attempting to present a persona that will make others like us better. But that is a misconception; painting over the blemishes does not help a relationship; it is virtually certain to have the opposite effect.
For true intimacy and closeness to exist we need to disclose who we are, to the core.
To think we can control others’ opinions of us, their feelings about us, is folly. Trust, full disclosure, is the only way we can achieve the intimacy we want in relationships.
But before we can reveal our true self to others, we first must expose the truth, warts and all, to ourselves. Only after we look at our vulnerabilities with true compassion and learn to accept – and love – the unembroidered person that emerges, can we say to others without reservation, this is me.
To develop a relationship with someone who feels safe, the task is to let go of protective devices and take the risk of being vulnerable. You disclose your true self, without omitting the colorations. You introduce yourself with directness and honesty, in a way that reflects self-love and personal responsibility.
Not to say you blurt out every unpleasant incident in your life at the first exchange of pleasantries. Little by little we learn to take the risk of revealing ourselves, gauging integrity and sincerity, the relation growing in intimacy as slowly we gain the confidence to disclose the real person within, to another. There is no hurry; pick safe people and when there is warmth and understanding, allow the bits and pieces we reveal about ourselves to accumulate over time.
I do not deny there is a gamble. A thousand love songs speak to the heart that has been broken. But the rewards far outweigh the risk. With vulnerability, you begin to attract people to you who are inspired by your openness and you experience true connection.