Right off the bat, of course, I need to upload the brilliant Ted Conference presentation by Dr. Brene Brown:
I am a 49 year old divorced woman who, after a 4 year friend-induced (She was right) moratorium on men began dating again at the end of 2011. Right off the bat I’m going to state that I was beyond rusty in how I felt about all of the experiences I initally had; it was a very strange, oftentimes exhilirating, and definitely eye-opening situation. The men were, for the most part, earnest, sometimes fearful, and very very eager to create a connection that would take them out of the dating circuit and into the relationship pool.
I have to confess that my motives for dating were different. I, wanted to have a good time and to practice dating (it had been since the second Reagan administration), and I was not interested in committed relationships. I felt sure that I was not ready to be in partnership with a new man. After all, I was still baby bird-like in my new single life; testing my wings, making sure I was strong enough to fly. As a result of that attitude, I was often disheartened with the rather weak way in which any of my dates would develop over time.
I think, on reflection, I was really and truly afraid to be myself while I was dating. I was so sure that opening myself up to the potential expansiveness of a loving and committed connection to a new man might ultimately lead to the same kind of devastating loss and agonizing betrayal that I had experienced in my marriage, that I just kind of shied away from the whole idea of being vulnerable and manifesting the real me.
As is often the case with me in my life, it didn’t really matter what I thought; the powerful graceful forces that have upheld and supported me on this crazy journey that has so far been my life had other ideas, and knew better. Today, almost exactly six months to the date that I began this whole hanging out with new men phenomenom, I find myself in a deep and cherishable connection with a man that I am committed to getting to know better, and to growing in relationship with in spite of the fear it can sometimes induce.
I have begun to recognize that my own vulnerability has actually made me a person who is able to be strong within herself while softly considering the feeling and opinions of others. In my new relationship with my friend Mark, it is those moments of honest and open expression about anything that I have come to look forward to and also long for when he is not there. It is a good, positive and beautiful thing to be me, my gentle, broken-open lovely self, in relationship and friendship with a man who sees me as me and genuinely in any given moment wants to know more.
I don’t know what any of this means beyond the exact moment that I am experiencing it. I will say this, without the ability to be vulnerable, to accept the invitation to open up to that place within myself that I had for so long felt was forbidden territory, I have discovered a power and a kind of swirling firm and complete connection to heretofore unfathomable possibility that knows no bounds.
And I am giddy with it and surrounded by it. My own ability to begin to be vulnerable in any and all relationships in all aspects of my life, offers me a freedom to live way way beyond that which I ever felt was possible or imaginable. I am strong and open and free in my weakness, my vulnerability, my powerlessness. And this is a good good thing; a spiritual manifestation of the fullest expression of my soul that comes from the heart and continues to lead me forward into new and exciting connections where transformation and deep deep connection is not only possible but divinely informed.