1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.
3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.
4. Bridge. having won one of the games of a rubber.
accessible, assailable, defenseless, exposed, liable, naked, on the line, on the spot, out on a limb, ready, sensitive, sitting duck, sucker, susceptible, tender, thin-skinned, unguarded, unprotected, unsafe, weak, wide open
Vulnerability… we all have it… we all fear it… we all must face it. Life can be so amazingly beautiful, and so utterly brutal, and we can only experience both of those things through our vulnerability. Life can only beat us up when we are vulnerable and open for attack. Yet it is only through that very same vulnerability that we can experience, joy and love.
“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” ― Frank Crane
It seems ironic that is only through unveiling our vulnerability that we can find our strength. But it is in those our weakest moments, when we confess our short comings, that we seem to find the way to overcome them, that we discover companions who will come along side of us and help us through. And once we make it through we realize that we are a bit more complete, and a lot stronger than before.
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” ― Criss Jami
We humans are emotional creatures, full of feeling. Our feelings often misrepresent the truth, distort reality and overwhelm us. This is also part of our vulnerability. We cannot refuse to feel. We also must not deny our feelings. By denying our feelings we lie, and seperate ourselves from truth – which strengthens us. It is kind of a strange circle we get caught in, because once again our feelings do not necessarily represent the truth, but when we are able to allow ourselves to own our feelings, to be vulnerable, to become immersed in it, it is then that we can see the truth, and release ourselves from our feelings. It is then that we can understand our feelings, and see both the good and the bad in them, and come out stronger. This is true with fear, grief, sadness and even anger. We must accept what we feel and learn to move beyond it and into understanding the why’s of it all. Why am I so angry, or so afraid, or so sad?
“Take any emotion—love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions—if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them—you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. “But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, ‘All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment’.” ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie
It is this that brings our vulnerability into the light, and actually removes it. Once we accept that we are for example angry, and allow ourselves to own how we feel with no excuses, then we can aknowledge matter of why. ‘Why am I so angry?’ because I have allowed another person’s comments to cut me to my core… and now we have armour. Once we get the why we can now reduce our vulnerability in that situation by declaring boundaries. Now we are just a wee bit stronger.
“…and that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.” ― Audre Lorde
I think the only place where this may not actually work is in the area of love. We cannot and must not put on armour when it comes to love. We will always be absolutely vulnerable, completely open for wounding, when it comes to love. Be that as a parent, as a child, as a lover or a friend. Often there are no why’s to discover when it comes to love. Instead it is simply a state of being. It just happens. I love simply because I am. I open myself simply because I love. Love is the instance where we risk being vulnerable without thought, without grounds, without reason. It is the chance we must take. Because it is the chance worth taking. The pay off is huge, we become rich beyond measure when we risk to love. Love is the greatest force on earth, and also the one force that makes us the most vulnerable.
“Well, any love makes us vulnerable. Whatever we love will give the gift of pain somewhere along the road. But who would live sealed in spiritual cellophane just to keep from ever being hurt? There are a few people like that. I’m sorry for them. I think they are as good as dead.” ― Gladys Taber, Harvest at Stillmeadow
I agree wholeheartedly with the above quote, those who will not love, are as good as dead and the life they lead is worthless. Perhaps worthless to others but definitely worthless to themselves.