I traveled to Chennai last month.
There, I met a person whom I have written about previously on this blog. Years ago, this friend, who I still believe I have a magical connection with, chose to accept her boyfriend’s demand to not be friends with me. It wasn’t a meeting that the person wanted. It was a meeting that I had forced into being. My friends like Poodle, DA, and Coach may look askance at me when I say I once again begged this person to talk to me. DA, in particular, always shakes his head in sadness, and warns me, “She will only bring you pain.”
Ah, our desire to avoid pain. How much we go through life trying to avoid it! We would do anything to avoid pain. Even force ourselves to be unhappy if only we can be comfortable. When did we ever get comfortable with being unhappy? We build careful walls, constructs of apparent solidity so that we can guard ourselves against this pain. But we are whittling our soul, chipping away at our life with a chisel, breaking our hearts in pieces even as we do that.
I have often been asked: How do you bare yourself like this on this site? How are you so vulnerable?
You are mistaken, my friend. I wasn’t vulnerable. For a long time, I thought being vulnerable is only about writing what you feel. Having no filters in expression. But in doing so, I was not vulnerable at all. I was only guarding myself with words. My walls were different. But they were still shimmering walls of avoiding pain, making friends with comfort, and being deeply afraid of intimacy and happiness.
Then this year happened. I saw my life’s reels through my eyes. I saw my ignorance, pride, ego, and utter disregard for the people who had touched me. I had thrown people away, thinking I will find others. I had thrown opportunities away, thinking tomorrow exists.
I had carried regrets like precious medals to be worn with honor but scarcely transforming them into affirmative actions of beauty. I began the year by losing two people from my life. Not to death, but the caprices of our behavior and the chains of our judgements. I looked deep into my soul and saw like Conrad would say, “the horror, the horror of it all.”
I saw myself doing this again and again for the rest of my life.
- I hadn’t been vulnerable enough to tell those simple words: I love you.
- I hadn’t been vulnerable enough to say: I am so happy to have you in my life.
- I hadn’t been vulnerable enough to put my ego aside and say: Can we talk?
- I hadn’t been vulnerable enough to allow my heart to be broken. And it’s a beautiful sound – the sound of our hearts breaking.
How can that narrow space of the heart hold so much love when it’s not broken?
So, I am breaking that heart. I am choosing to embrace pain and really be vulnerable. I sent emails and messages to people from the past and formed two new friendships as a result. I put myself out on social media. I hugged my loved ones and told them that I love them.
I rejected the safety of an Abu Dhabi-based company’s offer to put myself even more into the mad world of uncertain income entrepreneurship. I asked an established author of three books to read 10 pages of my book and tell me if that is even worth sending for publishing.
I reached out to this person, D, from that vulnerability. I don’t know why she agreed to meet me after this period of silence. But it was the strangest meeting of my life. I met a ghost.
I met my ghost. I met my old self. I met someone who exuded coolness. Or was it nervousness? I don’t know. I am so confused these days in my interactions with people. This old friend of mine, once dear of my soul, spoke with the air of a practiced socialite. Refused to open up and really speak.
I had wanted to reestablish our connection. She, perhaps, wanted nothing of that sort. This was a person who has locked herself up, thinking that this is the way to be.
I hated myself for being vulnerable. Why did I even reach out? I thought as the person’s seeming casualness crowded my attempted vulnerability.
And then, that brick dropped.
THIS is what I have done all my life. Pushed people away thinking there are always enough people.
I had been smug and complacent with life.
Oh, dear! This beautiful person showed me the mirror to all the ugly corners of my self. The more the faff she showed, the more it was a reflection of myself.
Her desire to portray the perfect life with the perfect partner and the perfect job is our desire too. Except it isn’t real.
Perfection is for the gods. And we are endearingly human.
A beautiful friend wrote to me of her pain: I sit with my head in my hands and ask myself over and over – how did this happen? How did I fall for it? Why didn’t I pay attention to the signs? Why, why, how, why. God does not answer. His silence is my answer. Sabr. Shukr. Patience. Gratitude.
I take her words as my own. I sit with my head in my hands and wonder why I didn’t see the signs.
And I thought as the pain hit that vulnerability sucks.
But you know what? I sat with the pain and saw that it is a beautiful suck.
The pain dissolved those walls. I am not going to build those walls again. Being vulnerable is making me stronger in all those broken places.
Vulnerability is not a weakness. It’s a superpower. It makes me feel alive. It makes me breathe.
It makes US breathe. I know you come to read me because I would only write what you feel too. I promise you I won’t fake anything here. Our pain is our connection.
And the more vulnerable I am, the more I am finding people equally at home in sharing with me. I receive emails brimming with honesty and vulnerability. I talk to people who share their loneliness. I receive love—so much of it. People give me warmth. I take that warmth, and they form the coals that ignite my heart.
I am breaking free.
I am finding that vulnerability is OUR superpower. It’s way more powerful than comfort. And I am finding happiness as a result.