Our Claire reaches out again…
Yesterday, Kirsteen sent me the link to a TED talk about vulnerability. In it the presenter, Brené Brown, asserts that deep, meaningful, connection can’t happen without vulnerability – the willingness to pull back the layers to be who we really are with people. From experience, I know this to be true.
I can remember, as a kid, that I lived in my own world, scared to let people in. This didn’t just manifest mentally – it manifested physically too. All year round, even in the middle of summer, I would wear a thick coat. People would comment and ask whether I didn’t feel hot in my coat. To which I would give a curt reply to stop them prying any further. Of course, the result of keeping people out was that I felt very lonely, which badly affected my mental health.
This was how I lived until I was in my late twenties and met my husband. However, again, my initial feelings were fear of getting close to another person. I’m glad to say that love won out though because I spent 11 very happy years with him. During that time together, he managed to make me feel relaxed in my own skin and encouraged me to be who I really was. I would not be the person I am today if not for him. So his death in 2013 really hit me hard. I can tell you that I’ve never felt as vulnerable as I did in the aftermath of his death… until now.
There is no question this pandemic has made me feel vulnerable – even going down the shops feels like an act of bravery. Yet my way of handling it has been the same way as I handled my grief: I’ve reached out and talked about my feelings. Every time I do this, it feels like I’m metaphorically taking off my coat. I stop bottling up my feelings and let them out. Sometimes it’s not pretty and sometimes people turn out not to be as sympathetic as I thought but, even then, the truth is easier to handle than a lie. I now have a core group of people I know I can trust, which is invaluable… especially when I remember, as a kid, I thought I couldn’t trust anyone.
Furthermore, as Brené Brown says in her TED talk, I know from experience that connection is what gives us purpose and meaning in our lives. I can only imagine what this pandemic would’ve been like if I hadn’t been able to connect with others. It is for that reason I thank you for reading my blogs for they have been another way I’ve reached out and talked about my feelings. That simply would not happen if no one was reading them.
So my advice is to connect and be real with people. If you’d like to do that via WHISC’s Listening Ear service, you can give them a call on 07708 381 568. Alternatively, you can leave a message on Facebook and they will call you back.
Please Note: If you’re in crisis, please call The Samaritans on 116 123 or the emergency services on 999.