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The Prison of Vulnerability

The Process of Transforming Feelings into Words

Photo Curtesy of Unsplash, Photographer Alvaro Serrano

The quote "Never let them see you sweat" should be retired. That quote has totally screwed up my thought process on what it means to feel and express how I feel about myself to others. When I was younger, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to cry, to express hurt or pain, and to not let people know that you are hurt. Just like any young child going through adolescence you tend to get teased and talked about a lot at school or around your neighborhood. In the 21st century, we call it bullying. The fear of telling others how I feel seems so easy and yet so hard. I remember being told by someone, “You don’t open up because you are afraid that what you say would be used against you.” That’s exactly how I feel—to have this pre-meditated feeling that someone will use my struggles against me. The sad part is that that has never happened to me before. I’ve never gotten myself to that point to even feel at ease telling anyone anything about what I have going on with me and in my life. That phrase is totally false. The fact that I don’t trust myself to be around people I can confide in is a problem within itself.

 

Having this approach has caused human detachment in social settings for me. Sometimes looking stone face shows a cold heart. Even my reaction to certain situations seems puzzling to me. Most of the feelings that I have been more physical. My resting bitch face has probably given the wrong impression. Maybe that I'm not engaged, or it could look like I don't care about the person or the issue at hand. The truth is that I do indeed have a heart and I do care about the thoughts and feelings of others.

 

At my recent therapy appointment, (a topic discussed at another time) I brought up that I have a problem with being vulnerable with people. The thought of spewing my feelings terrified me to my core and causes tons of anxiety and panic attacks over the years. I explained that I do feel emotion. My problem is I have a hard time putting my emotions into words. It was suggested that I partake in an exercise where I allow my full body to relax with my eyes closed and to acknowledge every ache and pain in my body. Once that part of the exercise is complete my job now was to write what I felt and how I felt at that time. The simple word for this exercise is "meditation." I've tried to meditate before and I just found that exercise noisy. My thoughts are going at least 100 mph. Other times I found myself falling asleep and not remembering what I meditate about in the first place. I've tried the Calm app and Headspace, and nothing seemed to work so I gave up on that notion of meditation. What I did enjoy listening to was nature sounds preferably anything pertaining to water. I enjoy listening to rainstorms, the ocean, and waterfalls.

Years ago, I stumbled upon a sound that was music to my ears. The Tibetan Singing Bowls. They offer a calmness I've never experienced. For this exercise, I decided to use the bowls to experience different feelings and then writing about how I felt when it was over. Since I don't have a bowl, I decided to do the next best thing and that was to go on YouTube. YouTube has tons of videos of the singing bowls listed. I clicked on the first one at the top of the page. I closed my eyes and just heard the sound. The sound gives off a certain vibration that hits the center of your body. It does not happen all at once but, it exposes the one thing that you might want to revisit and meditate on in the future. During that, I suddenly felt a tug at my chest. It didn't feel like a heart attack per se but it felt like someone reached their hands on my heart and broken them in two. I felt broken hearted and defeated. The experience only lasted 23 seconds but that feeling felt like an eternity. Not really knowing the reason for this overwhelming emotion I just sat and cried. The sadness that overcame my body was something that I've never experienced or have taken the time to analyze. I'm currently in the process now of trying to figure out what all of it really means.

 

Doing this exercise made me realize a couple of things: The beauty of my feelings are that they are MINE and that they belong to me. My feelings towards certain things don't have a right or wrong answer, owning how you feel doesn't necessarily have to make sense, the ones who care would take how you feel to heart and expressing how you feel is a practiced art that constantly needs time and effort to perfect. 

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength, Criss Jami.” 
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