My parents didn’t teach me vulnerability. Honestly, in their alcoholic, co-dependent marriage, I never saw an ounce of vulnerability between them. I witnessed nothing more than the “ism” of their disease expressed in an extremely passionate way. Their marriage ended and off they went into other dysfunctional relationships.
The practice of vulnerability was introduced to me through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and has helped me find the real meaning of life – relationships that are deep and meaningful.
It is my belief that without vulnerability, meaningful relationships cease to exist. Scratch that. They exist, but something vital is missing.
Alcoholics and addicts crave connection. They crave an environment where they feel safe being who they are. In previous lives, most of them tried to find this in a bottle, a pill, a needle, a ‘something’, as they isolate themselves behind walls and doors.
In recovery I have found safety surrounded by like-minded individuals – in meetings, during fellowship, after meetings, running into a friend at a coffee shop or in that sweet time spent with my sponsor wading through a vast pool of rigorous honesty, her life preserver holding me steady.
I have pondered the ability to express vulnerability – what holds me back, what I put in front of it and how I respond to it. It saddens and sometimes angers me when the people close to me choose another way.
What gets in the way of my vulnerability may be summed up in one tiny, but necessary, little word – ego. My ego often presents itself in defensive behavior, justification or a simple shrug of the shoulder that implies, “Oh well, get over it. It is what it is.” Such behavior does not allow for deep, authentic relationships.
For me, the only way to get vulnerable is to break through my ego and to examine my own behavior. In recovery, I was taught that it is never about the other person, it is always about me. This does not diminish another’s responsibility for their actions, but helps me stay focused on my own behavior.
This simple task is not easy. I constantly return to the ping-pong game in my head. If only they; why don’t they; when will they; it’s my fault; I could’ve done this instead of that; why didn’t they; etc. Sometimes it takes me only minutes to get to the final round of this game; other times it takes me several days. What I invariably realize is that the longer it takes me to reach it, the longer I suffer. I jeopardize my sanity, my peace and my ability to move on and detach myself from the problem. I experience freedom only when I choose to stay vulnerable and accountable for myself. The pay-off is well worth the effort.
I want deep and meaningful relationships filled with authentic love – a love that is deepened through personal vulnerability. I want to discover the facets of myself which either separates me from you or God or – here’s the gift – bring me closer to you and God. The depth of personal relationships I find in my Twelve Step program keeps me coming back and keeps me on my path of spiritual discovery.
So be vulnerable. Share those insecurities that make you human. Get closer to yourself and those you love; watch your life change in wonderful ways. I dare you.
Jennifer Sobel is a 200E-RYT yoga instructor in Prescott, Arizona with a degree in addiction counseling. She teaches private yoga classes at area treatment centers and at BlackBird Yoga where all Namaste Sober Yoga classes are donation-based. She shares her love of yoga and the gift of recovery.