Last night I had a dream, and it wasn’t of Mandalay. It was a reenactment and a reliving of a time when I was vulnerable. My vulnerability was exploited, and to date, I haven’t had the courage or desire to about this in full in any memoir.
But this morning, because of the dream I was deep in reflection and went off on a few rabbit hole journeys. I needed to know more about these people, so I did some research (research in memoirs is good, but know when to stop. After discovering more information about the two people involved, I have concluded that although I would like to talk to the female involved, it’s probably best left alone. This is when I need to bring compassion for her and myself to the fore.
I don’t know about you, but I have always hated feeling vulnerable. It used to strike me as weak and being unable to help myself. Yet as the years have passed, I have seen that vulnerability is powerful. People who are ready to see you will. People who are ready to feel you will. And you will see and feel the world in a different way. Which will open the door to greater compassion.
Brene Brown talks about the power of vulnerability, so this is nothing new. She talks about connection as an essential part of being human. To be human is also to be open to vulnerability. We put up barriers to showing our vulnerability so that we are not seen, and we often feel that we are not worthy of connection.
When I think of my own vulnerability, it makes me want to cry because I have felt unworthy of love and connection. I believed that somewhere inside me was something dirty, unclean and not nice. For many years, I blocked out things that happened in my childhood.
But I did, and as I woke up and became more aware, I acknowledged that many women (and men) have encountered worse than me. That doesn’t and shouldn't diminish my stuff, and feeling that you have suffered less than someone else is not a good thing to do. Our pain is our pain, and it shouldn’t be downplayed.
Some people may feel the need to gauge the severity of their distress by comparing it to others who they believe have faced more significant challenges. This behaviour is probably a defence mechanism to protect themselves and avoid confronting the full extent of their pain.
I get this. I don’t know why we do it, but I have, and maybe it comes back to vulnerability and feeling judged. I know that I have had difficulty acknowledging and processing emotions, including trauma. As a result, I have distanced myself from my feelings.
Writing has helped me to deal with my stuff and look at things as lessons and gifts in some weird game show called Life. These ‘things’ have helped me to become more of myself, if that makes any sense.
Sadly, knowing that I have been on a learning journey hasn't stopped me from making rubbish choices. It took a sledgehammer from the Universe to finally convince me that all of my experiences are just that, experiences, lessons in my human life and part of the journey back to the light. Beam me up, Scotty!
When I could see the beauty in the spaces between the experiences and that these did not define me, I felt more comfortable sharing my vulnerability because it was no longer as shameful as it first seemed.
Vulnerability creates compassion
I believe that to feel compassion for yourself and your fellow man, you have had to have been somewhere that tested your courage. Where you found yourself in a place that demanded that you share and release. And where you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and open up so that you can let go. That’s not to say that you have, more that for me, having been through some tough times has made me more compassionate.
It hasn’t been easy showing a part of me that I felt was no one's business, but actually, it has been ok. When I say ok, for some people, it was, and for some, it wasn’t. Some could see into my soul and hold me, while others used what I shared as a weapon.
But that’s their stuff.
Baring my soul has led to me becoming more compassionate. Don’t get me wrong, I can be pretty hard-nosed and dispassionate about many things. I’m not completely soft-centred, but I am gentle, loving and kind. I will go out of my way to make others feel safe.
There have been many times when I have needed something, and nobody has helped me. That hurts, and I still bear the scars of being deserted when I most needed others to see my pain and vulnerability. And most of all, help me. But they didn’t, and I sorted stuff out myself. I ask for support these days, which makes much more sense than expecting others to know what to do.
When someone opens up about their vulnerabilities, they create an opportunity for others to relate and empathise. The shared experience of struggle, pain, or fear can bring people closer together, creating a sense of unity and support.
Knowing that you are not alone in your emotions will make you feel understood and less isolated. This is what memoir does.
As I write this, I feel vulnerable and emotional as I remember because of the dream, that time when I was 15. I also smile because no matter what others do or don’t do, I will not stand by and not open my heart to someone I feel drawn to support. They may never give back to me. What they might do instead is remember a time when someone was kind and compassionate to them and pass that baton on.
If you are standing on the edge of vulnerability and wondering if you could or should let it pour forth, what is the worst that can happen? Now consider the best that can happen. And if nothing happened, would it matter? The power of showing up as you comes from within.
The more vulnerable you are, and that’s not to put yourself in danger, and it does come with a health warning, but I am sure you know that; the more powerful you become. The more powerful you become in who you are, the more compassion you can show up for others. Or I’d like to think that you would.
Memoir and vulnerability
Here’s the practical stuff…
Vulnerability in memoir writing involves the courage to delve into your deepest emotions, confront your truths, and share personal experiences that may be painful, embarrassing or difficult. This could mean writing about failures, mistakes, losses, or moments of weakness.
Why is vulnerability so important? Let's explore...
Being vulnerable in your memoir creates authenticity. It allows you to present an honest, unfiltered view of your life and experiences. This authenticity draws in your readers, allowing them to deeply trust and connect with your narrative.
When I say unfiltered, you will of course have edited your work.
When you reveal your vulnerabilities, your readers see a reflection of their own experiences, emotions, and struggles. It makes your story relatable and assures readers they are not alone in their experiences.
They can see themselves and their story in yours and that is very healing.
Vulnerability allows for raw, powerful emotions to shine through your writing. These emotions captivate your readers, drawing them into your world and keeping them engaged in your narrative.
You always want an emotional connection.
Writing about personal and vulnerable experiences can be therapeutic. It offers a form of emotional release and can lead to personal growth and healing.
However, vulnerability does not mean exposing every intimate detail of your life. Instead, it involves sharing the emotional truth of your experiences. It's about going beneath the surface to explore the emotions, thoughts, and lessons these experiences have evoked.
Vulnerability in memoir writing may seem daunting, but it's a courage that pays off. It's the doorway to writing a memoir that resonates, touches hearts and lives, and leaves an indelible impact on your readers.
Vulnerability is an essential aspect of writing a memoir. It is opening yourself up, baring your soul, and sharing your most intimate thoughts, experiences, and emotions with your readers. While it can be daunting to expose your vulnerabilities on the page, it is through this vulnerability that your memoir's true power and impact can emerge.
Writing a memoir requires a willingness to delve into your memories' depths and confront the joys, sorrows, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped your life. It means embracing the rawness of your experiences, even when they are painful or uncomfortable. In this vulnerability, your story becomes relatable, resonating with readers who have also experienced similar struggles, joys, or moments of transformation.
By embracing vulnerability, you create an atmosphere of authenticity and honesty within your memoir. You invite readers to connect with you deeper, share your triumphs, and empathise with your struggles. It is through vulnerability that you can touch the hearts and minds of others, creating a bridge of understanding and compassion.
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