Being vulnerable. Opening up. Trusting someone to know the real me…not just the good parts that I want people to see. That’s scary.
I have really struggled in my past with not having the best judgment when it comes to who to trust and who not to trust. I seemed to always get burned by the same flame twice, or in reality, more like eight times.
It’s really tough to decide when to be vulnerable or to trust someone because we never truly know another person’s motives. I had been told many times in the past I was “too trusting” because people have used that trust to manipulate me or gossip about me. After hearing this over and over then being hurt because of it, I just stopped being vulnerable with people, put on the fake smile and built walls so high around my heart that nobody was going to have the power to hurt me ever again.
And sadly I didn’t even realize I did it.
I went from trusting almost everyone I talked to and trying to see the good in everyone to refusing to be vulnerable with anyone, even people who loved me and should have earned my trust. During this time, I hurt the people I loved the most because I just couldn’t put into words what I was feeling or what I was struggling with and my anxiety went through the roof. I second-guessed every decision I made, listened to bad advice and then got defensive over my mistakes. I felt sick most of the time. Depending on who I was with was how I would feel and act. Because of how insecure I was, I cared wayyyy too much about what everyone said about me. I overthought every situation and just basically shut down.
And again, I didn’t even realize I did it.
I didn’t want to let anyone see the real me with failures, doubts and shame, so my doors were closed and locked. My closest relationships struggled because I was afraid of trusting anyone with the truth of things I did in my past that I regretted and if they did know I figured they judged me for them. I just couldn’t let myself be vulnerable with those closest to me so it was a downward spiral of me not opening up, being crazy moody, pushing the people I loved away, then feeling rejected and hating myself when they gave up on me because I didn’t think I was valuable enough to fight for.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that I started to figure out this destructive habit of mine. It was actually a conversation with my mom over a hurtful situation that helped me realize it. She said, “In order to get help and be understood, you need to ask for help and communicate how you really feel. Stop pretending you don’t care or it’s going to cause more pain.”
It was then it dawned on me that I was actually the one not fighting for me so how could I expect anyone else to?
Although that sounds like such an obvious thing, it’s harder than it seems when you aren’t really aware of closing yourself off. If we act like we are just fine in the lifestyle we are living and we don’t tell anyone what’s actually going on with us, everyone will assume we are good, when in reality we are paralyzed with pain and too afraid or proud to admit it.
So the reason for writing this is to encourage you that it’s okay to be vulnerable and trust people who love you even when what you want to share is messy. It’s actually been a relief to admit painful things and it has helped me move on from my past and make better decisions. It’s also normal to struggle being vulnerable, but just make sure you invest in people you trust. And please don’t make the mistake I did of realizing it too late and losing a good relationship over not being able to open up and being afraid if someone special really knows the good and the bad parts of you they will leave you. That fear just led to insecurity and confusion then before I knew it, my entire thought process was wreaked. Keep in mind that if someone does leave because they don’t like or want to hear about the messy parts of your life, then you are better off because that was not love (but that’s a whole other post for another day!).
Trust is a balance like anything else in life I guess. I have tried getting better with this by taking my time getting to know someone first and praying about it. And you can observe a lot about people’s motives and loyalty by how they talk about others. And listen, you may be vulnerable a few times and not get the response you were hoping for. We all make mistakes on both sides of trust but learn from them and don’t give up.
Recently I have really gotten a better sense of who I can trust to open up to and who doesn’t invest in me enough to be allowed access to the stuff below the surface. It’s important that we are also trustworthy…it can’t just be one-sided. I still try to see the good in people, but I do it VERY carefully and with the understanding that it takes some time and effort to know who to be vulnerable with. Just don’t be afraid to do that with the right people at the right time.