Yesterday, I took a risk.
I’m glad I did.
The affirmation, confirmation and support I received filled my heart with gratitude and joy. I felt alive.
Which got me wondering… Do I take enough risks?
Oh, not the jump out of an airplane or ski down virgin terrain on a steep backcountry mountain kind of risk but the emotional, spiritual, deeply personal risk of vulnerability.
Sadly, I think the answer may be… not often enough.
Which is why I write here.
To teach myself to live life wide open. My heart unlocked. My psyche unsheathed. My entire being unarmoured-up.
To stretch my vulnerability muscles, to expand my willingness to be real, authentic, known. To increase my capacity to live outside my comfort zone – I must choose vulnerability.
‘Cause in many instances, that’s what living ‘sheltered’ behind our protective walls and habitual nature of hiding our ‘true nature’ is – A fear response to dangers unknown about which we are constantly negative fortune-telling in order to protect ourselves from hurts we experienced in the past and fear will happen again.
It is such a convoluted story we tell ourselves about what could happen. And because we don’t want it to happen, we tell ourselves we have to armour-up when in reality, disposing of our armour and allowing ourselves to be wholly present and vulnerable is what keeps us safe.
I remember when, after being released from a relationship that was killing me, I received a call one morning telling me that the man who wanted me gone had escaped from jail. “We don’t know where he is,” the detective told me on the phone, “but we figure he’s probably going to try to find you.”
In one instant all my hard won peace of mind evaporated and I was catapulted into a raging storm of fear engulfing every cell of my being. I remember taking Ellie, my Golden Retriever who had gone through much of that journey with me and been my ballast and comfort for so much of it, for a walk in the forest where we had walked every day since his arrest.
Suddenly, every rustle of leaf, every crack of twig, every shadow was ‘him’ waiting to leap out of the bushes and drag me back into the past.
I remember standing amidst the towering pines and crying, trying to force myself to keep walking further along the path. I couldn’t do it. I turned and ran back to my apartment, slamming the door shut and lying on my bed sobbing.
And then… it struck me.
He had absolutely no idea where I was and had no way of finding out. We had had zero contact since his arrest months before.
While he was a danger, he was not a real and present danger. It was my thoughts playing havoc with reality.
I had a choice. Live behind locked doors or go out into the sunshine. I unlocked the door and Ellie and I went for our walk.
Sure, there were niggles of fear wafting around me but I chose to risk facing them rather than armour-up against them.
It has been a constant learning in my life. To un-armour myself when my mind is screaming at me to raise the drawbridge, man the ramparts and take cover.
And the only way I know to do that is to face what I fear and risk — being vulnerable, real, authentic — and… to love myself, all of me, warts and wisdom, darkness and light, beauty and the beast.
And so… I write it out.
What about you? Are you willing to take a risk today?