Choosing Courage to Ride the Wave of Vulnerability

“Rather than deny our vulnerability, we lean into both the beauty and agony of our shared humanity. Choosing courage does not mean that we’re unafraid, it means that we are brave enough to love despite the fear and uncertainty.” ~Brene Brown

Years ago, a man I was dating could sense I was holding back and my block was preventing us from moving forward. He said to me, “you know, it’s okay for you to be vulnerable.” You would think Thor directed a lightening bolt at our clasped hands because I bolted. Tucked my tail and ran like a terrified puppy. By the mere thought of sharing with him my battered heart and letting him see my pain. Mind you, I literally did make a quick exit, and there’s no way to elegantly hoof it when still wearing a walking cast. The hobble is not dignified or efficient.

He became the first man I ghosted. *I know, I know….* And it was brutal! I was such a coward. He’s a good man, and he treated me remarkably well, and he deserved far better than what I gave him. And it was painful for him. Both of us were clumsily trying to navigate dating, both having experienced similar trauma of discovering our significant others were unfaithful to us. Years later, we reconnected.

Funnily enough, he reached out to me after seeing a young woman hobbling on crutches which reminded him of our first date. We are friends…. after he read me the riot act for disappearing. Which I accepted. He’s happily married to a wonderful woman and they share a healthy, beautiful, blended family.

And then the day came,

when the risk

to remain tight

in a bud

was more painful

than the risk

it took

to blossom.

Risk ~ Anaïs Nin

And I’m often still that clumsy, scared puppy when comes the terrifying thunderclap or being called upon to share my intimate parts of me with others. However, here in Oaxaca, that’s more likely to be fireworks exploding overhead than actual thunder…..

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I’m currently dealing with a lot of vulnerability and exposure in a way that I normally tend to work very hard to avoid. I’m absolutely, definitely, without a question the person who will cut and run and avoid authentic connection in almost every scenario in effort to avoid being emotionally eviscerated again. Even though, so far, I’ve proven that you will be able to recover from every loss, broken heart, abandonment, and betrayal. It doesn’t always feel like that is possible, but I have a 100% recovery rate.

Here’s a rub, though: there are times during which channeling massive courage for authenticity and vulnerability will not be rewarded by receipt of the outcome you put yourself out on the very ledge of exposure for…. and it sucks so hard! Aaaaah, that feeling is the worst when you’re emotionally naked, and the lights are on, and… and… and… no.

A few years ago, when I was nearly hysterical from what I was then experiencing as a vulnerability exposure fail, a friend said to me, “it’s scary and it’s hard to show people our ugly.” Yes. It’s scary. And it’s hard. It’s hard to constantly live in your truth. Because when you’re being truthful and authentic all of your time, you’re going to turn off some people because they don’t tune in to that vibration. But it’s not easy, and again, the fear factor, for me, is intense.

Also, trust. Can I trust my instincts regarding this person? Can I trust this person? If I open up my heart, is this person going to take that vulnerability to hurt me? Because… that’s what happened before.

I’ve held myself back. I lose out on the possibility of the kind of connection I want, and I also deny someone the opportunity to receive all the weird, wonderful, quirky, and beautiful parts of me that lie beneath the surface of fear and anxiety. But the part of me that craves that connection and depth doesn’t call to me as loud as the part of me that begs me to stay closed to protect myself.

I learned that fear through a traumatic abusive relationship. I came to accept I wasn’t worth more than what he told me I was worth, through his hurtful words and his injury afflicting actions. Then, another one, this time a true wolf in a friendly skin told me I hadn’t come as far in my recovery and ability to protect myself from a predator (when you learn your ex is a convicted felon as he goes back to prison… yeah that happened). Trusting myself, and trusting others… that’s hard. It’s scary.

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I keep coming back to this picture from when I went on a (divine) yoga retreat in Costa Rica a couple of years ago. When my friend snapped this picture of me, I had no idea she was even there. I had just been wacked in the back of my head by my longboard on what was one of my most awkward falls I ever made when surfing – and just believe me when I say I wipe out better than I ride.

But my smile is so real. There was nothing anticipated or commanded. This sunburned mug is radiant with sheer joy. If I had let my anxiety and self-conscious nervousness about how not-good I am at surfing get the better of my earnest desire to ride those perfect baby swells (I know my limits of my skill level), I wouldn’t have ever known how delicious and fun Costa Rica waves are for long boarding.

One of the things about surfing – especially at the beginning, is learning how to read the wave and determine which ones, and when, are good to ride. Because I don’t get to surf often, I miss quite a few, and in the split second of hesitation, that wave is gone. But there’s more. There’s always more!

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~Brene Brown

When you’re told repeatedly you’re not worthy of love and sincere affection without conditional approvals, your mind can hold onto those messages. Despite a hell of a lot of work I’ve done to reclaim myself and recover, I still have triggers. But those aren’t my truths – only as much as I want to allow myself to continue to subscribe to that story. I still have doubts. It’s like that song from Bob Dylan, Just Like a Woman.

Whether puppy or little girl, I have to willfully force myself to stand present in front of someone, whether a new friend – usually a man wanting to build an emotional connection – I have to resist and push down the initial reaction to run and choose to be courageous. I’m a good emotional runner. But a terrible physical runner. Too many ankle and foot fractures.

And so also goes with finding the courage to continue to take the exposure and painful anxiety of vulnerability. We get better at what we practice. Sometimes the ride will be good. Sometimes we get knocked in the head by a surfboard. Right now I’m feeling the knock in my heart. But I really don’t want to miss any more waves because I hesitated.

Vulnerability is not for anyone faint hearted! If you want to live authentically and with appropriate vulnerability, you have to be a warrior. A love warrior! And better yet, be ready for the ride.

XO,

Jennifer

Nosara Costa Rica Surfing Vulnerability .jpg
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NEVER

When I was a little girl, I could quote Splash, for I was so in love with Madison the Mermaid. As a grown woman, I can quote Annie Hall, for I am so in love with everything that is Diane Keaton – she occupies a majority of my Girl Crush Pinterest board and I lost my mind when meeting her this year – I squeaked. A grown woman. Self sufficient. And I squeaked. I’m so ashamed.

…. and the other reason of my obsession (yes, yes, ok, ok, I cannot get enough of – and sort of find comfort in – the massive neuroses occupying Woody’s characters). Really… don’t ever let me get started. Your only blessing for brevity in this message is I have to wash my greasy roots and get my butt to work. 

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Dating App Fatigue | Video iChat with Coffee

Dating apps are no longer shiny new toys. Every site has an app and everyone on one app is on every other app, too. I completely relate to Drew Barymore’s dilemma in this scene from He’s Just Not That Into You. The dating app fatigue is real.

Truth. It is exhausting.

And, yikes.

And, this is why I’m single. Also why so many of my friends, are, too. Meanwhile, I’m thinking about cozying up with my Apple TV to stream  a certain chick flick – or a few – and get ready for a whole lot of left swipes.

dating app fatigue

dating app fatigue
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I’m not sure which moon this is, but tonight is a super moon, and I believe the last of the year. I keep thinking back to the waxing moon last night as I jumped into a backyard pool for a midnight swim with a handsome Hungarian from Slovakia while we watched the monsoon clouds build up above us. I especially like how his accent lilts my name. “JennEEfer.” It reminds me of living in Germany as a young girl, when my life experience was still sweet and there was no sadness or loss, yet, for how he pronounces my name is what I heard when addressed throughout the villages and towns we traveled. My life is still sweet, but there have been some extra sour patches. I agree with Jason Lee’s character, Brian, in Vanilla Sky: the sweet is never as sweet without the sour, and I know the sour.

Do I ever know the sour. And I know a lion’s share of sweet, too.

Mr. Slovakian Hungarian and I are, in fact, a bit of a mismatch. And, although I consciously phased myself out of the May December infatuation of older men once I hit my early 30’s, this one sneaked up on me. And in over three years, I have not felt a pull to a man as him, and although I wasn’t anywhere near ready for a skinny dip, under that rising full moon, I jumped right in. And, as I explained to my friend, without anticipation or explanation, and for however brief or whatever length of time there is, I will be present, in the moment, and enjoy the company and enjoyment of this man for the sake of him, as a person, and not anguish and fret about whether or not there is “a future.”

Happy vibes.

Cheers to remaining bikini days (and nights). And Monsoon Mondays with Super Moons. 

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Learning to Take a Leap (A Flying One, That Is)

Learning to Fly – Tom Petty w/ Stevie Nicks : Does it get better than this? I got a little tingle feeling on my arms that I recognized as goosebumps.

Well, if I were slightly less tired from last night’s party (my ass is old; I cannot stay out that late anymore!!), being less tired would be a great start. Being finished with these papers looming over me (I can practically feel the executioner’s ax on my neck). However, attending the Junior League of Phoenix White Party was awfully fun last night! Any opportunity to don a new dress and pair it with vintage treasures from inside my closet is alright by me (and this made for the seemingly one time per year I can bring out my fluffy fox stole – relax, it was already an estate piece when I got it). Rooftop dancing at Casablanca Lounge among suspended flower arrangements and a grooving DJ on a Saturday night in January — and NOT feeling cold? Yes, please!

Well, and although my ass may be old, the cutie 25 year old from one of the stops last night actually reached out to me and asked me on a date. I figured why the hell not, and so Saturday night will be a puma (I think that’s what I would be called). All I have to lose is some hairspray, lipgloss, and I can chalk up the night at the very least to one of an experience!  I’m not yet sure if this means this young buck has a thing for older women (Dear Lord, I hope he doesn’t think I’m a cougar – I don’t like being aged upwards) or if I maybe am not quite the picture of the little old lady I see in my mind?

But either way, although I do not view, with any seriousness, a possible romantic connection with someone more than a decade younger than me, this is an opportunity for me to get out and have a new experience with someone new. Truth be told, I have been so completely shut down to the idea of dating — ANYONE — perhaps a date with a quarter-centarian might help me find the fun that I used to have dating again. This is my flying leap. Hey, I generally don’t date men younger than me (not by design or choice; it’s really just worked out that way), and this fellow is so significantly younger than me, to call it a leap is not much of a leap. Hell, that I actually agreed to go out on a date – with anyone – at this point is a leap!

Oh, and maybe I took a little inspiration because today’s Kiss a Ginger Day…. 😉

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