Written by Riley Robert, WLLC 2015-2016
Last week in class we talked about vulnerability as part of our emotional wellness topic, and to be honest it really made me starting thinking of how and when I let myself be vulnerable. I came to the realization that I rarely, if ever, let myself be vulnerable. Not only that, but that for me to be vulnerable, I have to allow for intimacy.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but intimacy has always been fairly hard for me. I struggle to allow people to get close to me, to share enough for anyone to actually know what is going on my head. There’s a line in one of my favorite songs that is literally “a psychology major couldn’t survive in my mind dude,” and a lot of times, I genuinely feel this way. I don’t think that it is something I’m alone in, but it isn’t something people talk about. People tend to hide their crazy, in my opinion, anyways.
Pondering this idea of vulnerability later, I started thinking that maybe my struggle with intimacy is due to my instilled fear of abandonment. As stupid as it sounds, I think I developed this fear by growing up in a broken household. By being forced to be independent because other people simply weren’t there to take care of me, and the ones that were around were flakey and I couldn’t rely on them to be there when I needed them.
I’m so worried that people will leave me, that by not allowing myself to be vulnerable, I completely eliminate the risk. I’m aware of it, it’s something I should try to work on. But a part of me just won’t do it. Even though this is how I’ve let myself be, I’m still aware that it forces me to lead a very lonely lifestyle.
Last week I went on a few dates with a boy, and I had started to actually have feelings for him. He was stable in all the right ways, and was genuinely kind to everyone he met. A few dates in, he asked me the question “So I wasn’t really looking for a relationship. I’m not opposed to one, but are we hooking up or what?” and honestly, I shut down right then and there. I cut my losses, frustrated. There are dozens of reasons for why he asked me that, but I think I was hurt by the idea that we could be spending so much time together and already know each other so well, and he would still leave the ‘just hooking up’ option on the table.
I started allowing myself to enjoy someone’s presence, and actually admired them, and then with one question I threw up a wall, terrified being intimate and the possibility of being abandoned. It’s a stupid coping mechanism. It doesn’t do anything good for me. But it’s my knee jerk reaction, that I can’t seem to convince myself isn’t a necessity. Maybe it’s something that in time I’ll grow out of. Maybe I haven’t met anyone that I’ve connected with well enough to break down my walls. Either way, I would currently rather be hard to get to know, then be vulnerable. I don’t want anybody to have the upper hand on me, and this seems like the best way to keep that from happening.