Monday, May 20, 2013

Being Vulnerable - With Victor Hugo

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”
Victor Hugo

I am learning that letting someone see you, really and truly see you, is a very intimidating thing. It is requiring a certain level of exposure and vulnerability I am not entirely comfortable with but drawn to at the same time. I spent so much of my life hiding myself, hiding from people, hiding my life and showing people what they wanted to see or at least what I thought they wanted to see. In doing so, I seem to have misplaced pieces of who I really am. I bought into my own act and at some point believed the altered and air-brushed parts of my life were all true. I hid behind the facade of myself for so long, I was not entirely sure I really knew who I was anymore. That is something I am still discovering. I would like to say it all feels fantastic, and a lot of it does, but at the same time, a lot of it sucks. I am both repelled by it and drawn to it in a way I can't explain. In some ways it feels like a death, letting go of what was or what seemed to be and then it feels like the birth of something new or perhaps the rebirth of something that has always been.

In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo wrote, “The branch trembles when a hand approaches to pluck a flower, and seems to both withdraw and to offer itself at one and the same time. The human body has something of this tremor when the instant arrives in which the mysterious fingers of Death are about to pluck the soul.”

I know that feeling of offering and withdrawing at the same time. When thoughts and emotions are in such contrast with each other and then there is the choice. To withdraw into the known of what is, no matter how uncomfortable that might be or offer ourselves to the scary unknown. What makes the whole process even more exciting and intimidating is going through it in full view of others. Normally, I would keep these things to myself. I don't enjoy letting people in, letting them see the nooks and crannies of my life. It scares me. It scares me that they will see something they don't like and decide to leave. I have always had that fear of being rejected, the fear of people leaving. I don't think I am special or unique in that way, I think everyone has that fear. Maybe it is fueled by the fear of being completely alone. Is being authentic and true to one's self worth the risk of being alone? I used to think the answer was no. So much of my life has been spent worrying about what others think, doing what they want, being who they want or who I thought they wanted me to be. The idea of being rejected and alone can be too much sometimes.

I am beginning to realize that it was the fear of being alone that fueled a lot of my life. If I moved, if I left first, I might be alone, but it would be on my terms. And if I was going to be alone, why not be alone in India or Paris or someplace wonderful. Now, I am taking the risk of being alone here. Just here. It sometimes isn't easy staying put, standing firm in vulnerability and the possibility of rejection. But, the more I force myself through it, the more I wonder why I would ever do anything else. Yes, the fear brings up the most terrifying feelings I think I have ever known, but I am finding that if I stand there and let the emotional storm blow through, it will pass and when the sun peaks through again, it is an amazing view.

I met in the street a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat was threadbare - there were holes at his elbows; the water passed through his shoes and the stars through his soul.” - Victor Hugo

Today, things in my life took an unexpected turn. For the past two months, I have had star passing through my soul. A man named David has become incredibly special to me. He has become family in a way I never suspected and I love him more than I imagined ever loving again. He is the person who makes me want to be the best version of myself, who makes me want to be vulnerable and seen, no matter how uncomfortable it is, because I know that it will all be ok. But today, I hurt him. I didn't mean to, it happened and now I am left waiting and wondering what it all means and how it will all work out. I seem to be quite clumsy in the area of love, and while I had and have nothing but the best intentions, I seem to have let things go off the rails in a way I never imagined. In just a blink, the dreams I had for the future now seem about to come crashing down. I am not sure how to deal with it, not sure what to do. All I know is that I have to stand here, in the middle of the storm and wait for it to pass. I feel helpless and vulnerable and right now, I can honestly say, I hate the feeling. I hate being open to pain, being open to the unknown. But, I also know, there is no other way to go, but through the middle of it all, hoping for the best, but knowing I have to except whatever may come. I need to have faith while I feel as though I am grasping for threads to hold onto, to keep from drowning.

The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only. The rest is only the rest, and comes afterwards. Nothing is more real than these great shocks which two souls give each other in exchanging this spark.” - Victor Hugo

I met david on a beach in March. In a glance, my world changed. I was no longer who I was moments before, but I was someone better. I let myself jump off the cliff and into the great unknown of love and new possibilities. I wanted to drown in that feeling. Now, I am in alone in my room, a bottle of red wine and music, wondering what will come of it all.

And it is in these moments when I wonder why I deal with vulnerability at all. Why not just build up the walls and keep out the pain? It may be a bit lonelier, but it won't hurt as much. 

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