Vulnerability. The willingness to be foolish and make mistakes, but having the will to continue on. Vulnerability is the core of shame and guilt.
"I am hurt." "I am broken." "I am let down and devastated." Feeling sorrow and rejection. I always believed that these expressions showed weakness. That this was surrendering into the unknown and allowing anyone to come at you and cause you pain. I have come to realize that it is quite the opposite.
Being just 16 years old, I was doing something that I was not supposed to while I was driving. I had just gotten my license and I should have not been driving people yet. A few friends and I were parked at a beautiful park and were about to leave. I started to drive away and things went wrong. I am not going to go into details, but I ended up getting in trouble. All of the people in the car blamed me because I was the driver, but they were the ones screaming for me to drive away and do this and do that. I am not saying a majority of this was not my fault, it definitely was, but it was not only my mistake. I ended up being arrested and became the talk of the town. For many many years, I let this one incident control my life. I would be serving food as a waitress and have adults of children who lived in my town ask me about this incident. I would have kids tell me they were not allowed to hang out with me because I was bad news. When in reality, I had never even had a detention in my life. This was one mistake that I am sure a wide variety of people have been in similar situations. I was just one who was caught. People who heard this story judged me by what they heard, not by who I was. I was seen by many, but actually known by few. It was easy to forget that I was being a reckless teenager, or that I had a soul and was human. You should never judge someone's character based on the words from another.
I am sharing this story because I do not let it define who I am. I held deep shame and guilt from this event, but it was one moment where I was caught off guard and did something that I should not have done. It affected my family and my friends and for that, I am sorry. But in the end, it had taught me a great deal. It provided me with wisdom and truths that I had needed to hear and come to terms with. Sometimes we fall down because there is something down there we're supposed to find.
Vulnerability is powerful. It is being truthful and courageous. It is where belonging, joy, empathy, creativity, love, authenticity, hope, accountability, and change stem from. It causes people to be seen, heard and valued. Being vulnerable makes you human. It is a puzzle piece to your freedom.
There is no time limit on healing. There is no time limit on how long you should grieve. Life doesn't have to be about avoiding the bruises or the scars that will come. It is about accepting them. Being taken into troubled, dark waters, but not to drown. In fact, we must be cleansed by it and recognize the opportunity to work on ourselves. Our troubled past looks different now with new perspective.
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."