I’ve been – in various contexts – doing a lot of thinking about vulnerability lately. How frightening it is. How I want to allow those who love me, and those whom I love, close enough to touch me, but how hard that is too.
Touch is quite a bit about vulnerability. Physical touch, I mean. I am rarely touched, anymore. The choir is the only regular part of my life that contains that tactile form of communication. Professional relationships prevent touch at work; I’m untouchable there, as are my colleagues. It’s only with my choir friends – who I would trust with my life – that hugs will be given; my arm will be tucked into another’s, or someone’s hand on my back or shoulder, unanticipated, will cause me, shamefully, to flinch.
Again, that dichotomy: I crave touch. I long for touch – like that of my friends – that is simple, undemanding. Touch neither to cause pain nor make demands nor to express ownership. Touch that is simply an expression of love, of friendship. Of care and solidarity. I want to learn that touch brings comfort and warmth. I want to learn that the touch that brings pain or demands is not a touch that I should accept, not a touch that is normal, that is right. For so long it was the demanding, painful touch I was used to: now I’m exposed to good touch, to gentle touch, to right touch, and there are times when I long for the tactile comfort and upholding that touch can bring.
And yet I fear it too. I fear the hug from someone who loves me because it goes on for slightly too long – undemanding, comforting, loving, and yet it strips me back, right back to my vulnerabilities. The temptation to simply rest in the safe circle of a warm embrace, to let go of the normally rigid control I keep on my emotions, and simply to weep, to lay down the burden I’ve been quietly carrying – there are times when that temptation is too great, and it frightens me. I have to pull away because I’m only just learning how to weep in front of others. To trust others with my vulnerability. I haven’t yet learned not to hide my vulnerabilities, my tears, my hurt, like some shameful sordid secret. Like the shameful, sordid secret that it actually isn’t.
It’s been a year and two-ish months since I left my ex. A year and two-ish months of wonders, of learning, of healing, of growth. This is the next learning: learning to cradle, to cherish, my own vulnerable soul.