Choosing Vulnerability Anyway

hammock - her bags were packed

In last week’s post, A Surefire Way To End Up In Jail, I shared what happened when I decided to take my Roman tour guide’s advice both literally and figuratively.  He said, “Always push on doors as you pass by. If they open, let yourself in and see what you discover.”

Just over a month had passed since that afternoon in Rome when I’d committed to stop running away from my feelings. Instead of running, I’d given myself permission to feel them, trusting that I was strong enough to handle whatever would happen next:

We were wrapped in a blanket, carefully balancing in my barely made-for-one hammock on my roof deck, watching the stars... and the clouds... and each other.

"What did you do today that scared you?" he asked, referencing a quote I have next to my bed that reads, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

"I don't know," I replied, feeling a little disappointed in myself. "I guess I haven't done anything too risky today."

In that moment, I felt safe to be myself, to speak my truth, and to share my random thoughts.

Cuddled up in that blanket, laughing every time the hammock started to tip a little too much one way or the other, I was present and safe... Not because I felt certain of anything but for the opposite reason: he was my scary thing. I knew there was nothing certain, no guarantees, but I was choosing vulnerability anyway. For the first time in years, I wasn't hiding; and even in the uncertainty of it all, I felt safe.

Maybe in the moment, I believed it was his arms wrapped around me that made me feel that way.... Or the way he smiled... or maybe it was the way his lips brushed my forehead when he kissed me.

But a few weeks later, though, when he chose to speak his truth -- that this relationship wasn’t it for him -- I realized it wasn’t his arms or his smile or those lips making me feel safe, it was me. I’d done my something scary. I’d shown up. I’d walked through the door, and taken the risk.

And “I” was my safe space.  

As I walked away, my heart breaking just a little, I knew I was not broken.

I was finally whole.