May 18, 2009

Love & the Cycle of Vulnerabilities

One should care for a friend's/lover's vulnerabilities as she would a newborn child.

This year in marriage has brought to mind the whole "cycle of vulnerability" that began the moment Miner and I connected. It's through the vulnerabilities we connected, through mutually revealing the shadowy corners of our identities: "You understand me."

But inevitably, as time passed, conflicts led us to tighten our grips on our precious things, rebury them, or deny them. In the heat of anger or desperate insecurity, there were times when I ripped his vulnerabilities apart, or he held mine under a banner of punishment.

Young love -- messy, disoriented, and brutal.

I guess learning to love right has been like learning to act right as we mature -- learning to set aside temper tantrums, learning not to whine, learning to share.

And it's taken me this long to learn to share again. It was not so long ago when I made a conscious decision I'd never be vulnerable again. Ever. I know I'm not unique in that. I'm convinced everyone in a relationship reaches that point, and it's a point that feels permanently established. Trust is such a monster.

What could I do about it but lock up my shadowy corners and throw away the key? Or at least demand my key back from him.

At the time, it felt like we may always be that way, in a proverbial stalemate for the rest of our lives. I decided, "We can live this way. We have enough to make it that we don't need emotional intimacy. We share enough. We don't need to share everything."

That may not have been true, but I accepted it was, and I committed to the long haul thus.

Somewhere along the line, I've come to realize -- defaulting to protect my vulnerabilities is the same as imprisoning myself and blaming Miner for it. Further, it makes me a hypocrite when I blame him for not sharing himself with me. Neither are fair or actual. And when I step back and really take a look at it all, I realize how senseless and sabotaging it all is. Like two kids ending their friendship because neither wants to share her secrets.

Big sister shared a quote:
Lying makes a problem part of the future; truth makes a problem part of the past. -- Rick Pitino
"Lying" is a strong word, but it's perfectly appropriate if I'm being anything but forthcoming about what I'm thinking, feeling. If I'm not upfront about exactly what it is I'm struggling with and exactly how I'm trying to deal with it, how I can I hold Miner responsible for not being there? And how could he ever become genuinely acquainted with me?

From afar, vulnerabilities very often look like weapons.

Vomiting hurts. Creating art from pain, hurts. Anything that requires us to purge something from ourselves...the process hurts. That includes telling the truth.

Why has the truth been so difficult for me in the past? I think pride is a big, big reason. I don't want to admit I'm weak. or imperfect. or obvious in my flaws. or wrong. Because "people" will take advantage of that and beat me down, punish me, laugh at me, blow me off, lose respect for me.

Is that true? It's absolutely true. Not everyone will treat me that way. The people who genuinely love me and care for me will pull me closer in those moments. But not everyone in the world genuinely loves and cares for me. There WILL be times when my vulnerabilities are exploited, but am I not strong enough and mature enough to cope with that? I should be. And I should be teaching my kids how to cope with that when it happens to them one day. And it will.

Truth is investment. Our marriage would definitely stay exactly where it is if neither Miner nor I invest in it.

The time of fear and insecurity has passed. Our marriage is no longer young. We can no longer afford to be afraid and selfish. I may not know everything about Miner, but I know he loves me, and he'll never, ever leave me. He's in for the long haul, no matter what goes along with it.

So, it's time for me to cut the lock. Sweetheart, there are an awful lot of ugly things in there, but I have no doubt they're nothing you haven't seen before. I'm convinced the worst of it all is not enough to break us.

I'm damn lucky to have ended up with a man who can handle my weaknesses and imperfections, especially since I can't handle them myself. I never considered, he may be the one who shows me how.

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