This past month Darren and I completed our three-year relationship. The process began in the beginning of May and came to a full close-the-door shut completion the weekend of Summer Solstice.
During this time I did a lot of traveling and socializing. I went to Florida for a nearly two week work trip. And then to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks to do a bunch of photo shoots. This is an unusually high amount of traveling for me so unlike other times when I’ve been going through something difficult and could hide out at home, this time I had to process while moving, eating out, staying in hotels and with friends, working, meeting new people, and socializing.
What to do in such a situation? Play it cool and act OK? Keep it to myself? Mention but downplay the situation to “keep it professional/friendly?” Or… be transparent, tell people what was going on, and see what happens?
Of course I chose the second option (with discernment, of course) and I am so glad that I did.
What I found out is that it’s simply amazing how kind, supportive, wise, and encouraging people are when I let them know what was really going on in my life.
I think we get sort of anesthetized to the fact that many of our interactions are just that – interactions. We’re touching, but we’re not connecting. Vulnerability changes all that. It takes our walls down to at least some degree and transforms exchanges into nourishing moments of connection… something we’re all so hungry for.
I found that by being open I put a card of permission on the table giving whomever I was speaking to the green light to bring their real self, their real stuff, and their real wisdom forward.
And you know what? 95% of the time they did. And not just a little, but a lot. I may be blessed to be around especially loving people, but I have been genuinely blown away at the depth of awareness and open sharing that people have showed up with.
I have been given direct tough-love advice when I needed to hear it. I have been given numerous listening ears, shoulders to cry on, and medicinal servings of Coconut Bliss and red wine. I have heard stories of people experiencing similar dynamics in their relationships and how they have or are working with it. I’ve learned illuminating psychological perspectives that have begun to move some of the jig-saw puzzle pieces around on my board of awareness. I have acquired a list of relationship books to expand my framework. And I have genuinely gotten to better know the people I’ve spent time with, with many of my relationships stronger now as a result of our depthful conversations.
And absolutely none of this would have happened if I was guarded about what I shared.
Do you dare? I won’t say it’s always easy. I’ve had a dozen+ moments in the past month where mid-conversation I considered revealing less to protect myself more. But the positive experiences of support and connection, which would not have happened if I’d been guarded, have far outweighed the challenging moments, so I’ve kept with it. And I’m learning in a deeper way through all of this that…
Vulnerability is the connection point that brings us together.
P.S. Have you seen Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk The Art of Asking? Don’t worry – I didn’t know who she was either until I saw it. But, along with Brene Brown, it’s my favorite TED Talk because she so beautifully and artistically shares how she uses transparency, vulnerability, and asking for what she needs to connect with her fans, taking her network to places I would guess most people could only dream of. An inspired bit of viewing – watch when you have time.