Vulnerability: How Opening Up Heals You

MarilynDavisatTIERSStarred Page By MarilynDavisatTIERS, 16th Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Recovery & Coping

“What happens when people open their hearts?...They get better.” ― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Nothing Can Touch Me

In my addiction, I wore my defenses like a coat of armor – impervious to the comments of others about my use; deflecting any criticism or negative observations about how my life was spiraling out of control.

I would not and could not listen to the care and concern, all I could hear was the condemnation. Yet, I also knew that I was hurting, fragile and vulnerable within that seemingly impenetrable armor of denial about the severity of my drug and alcohol problem. I simply wanted someone to tell me how to heal from my addiction, not remind me of what I had done in my addiction.

Breaking Through My Defenses

When I entered treatment in 1988, the preferred method for providers was to peel the onion; ripping off whatever defenses, we had created for keeping criticism and people away from us. My armor crumbled as each of my shame-based actions, problematic thinking, and distorted emotions were exposed. I am surprised in retrospect that more of us did not explode or implode in this seemingly hostile environment. I do not know if that method works for everyone, however, twenty-six years ago, it did for me.Today, I think there is a gentler approach; we can remove our own armor and begin to experience vulnerability in stages. How could you do that?

Give Someone an Opportunity to Help You

My experience has been that no one; whether in my use or my recovery wants to look incompetent and rarely sets out to give inadequate or faulty directions; that simply makes them look ignorant. Early in my recovery, I set up tests for people by giving them a little bit of information about situations and then depending upon their answer, determined if they had workable solutions. If they did, then I begin to establish some trust with their decision-making abilities, good judgment and directions.

When I processed directions from that perspective, that I was testing the person’s ability to help, I felt more in control even as I was relinquishing it. It was the first of many such paradoxes in my recovery; however, it allowed me to be more inclined to ask for help, then follow the directions and verify the outcomes or results. Obviously, if the person gave me inaccurate information, I was hesitant to seek their advice again; nonetheless, many people did freely give me advice and directions that worked in my early recovery.

Your Story, My Story, Their Story, Our Stories

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ― Brené Brown

There is nothing new under the sun; it simply wears a different face, time, or place. That is not some long forgotten quote; it is my truth. When I chose to expose my story, I found others who had the same story, not all women, not all mothers, not all Caucasians, and not all approximately my age. Yet, the story was the same. In that moment of being vulnerable and telling my story and asking for guidance, I found men, women, young people, old people and various methods that would help me find:

• Forgiveness
• Ways to make Amends
• Alternative behaviors, thoughts and feelings
• Renewed joy in living

We Are the Seeker

I realized that staying in the armored place, how lonely, frightened, and prone to relapse I would be. The armor felt like protection, yet could potentially become yet another prison. “It is almost as if we are all playing a big game of hide-and-go-seek. We all hide expecting to be found, but no one has been labeled the seeker. We stand behind the wall, at first excited, then worried, then bored, then anxious, then angry. We hide and hide. After a while, the game is not fun anymore. Where is my seeker? Where is the person who is supposed to come find me here in my protected shell and cut me open? ― Vironika Tugaleva, The Love Mindset

Recovery gives us the opportunity to be the seeker,to tear down the walls or dispose of the armor. It is in our vulnerability that we demonstrate our courage to heal; by asking for and receiving guidance from others who have healed.

Let today be the day that you take down one or two bricks, remove some of the armor, show others that you are open to their suggestions and directions. After all, you have nothing to lose and may gain far more than you can imagine when you allow yourself to be vulnerable to trustworthy people.

Help Spread the Word that Recovery is Possible

Each person has a unique perspective on addiction and recovery. If you want to write about your experiences and provide well-written articles to help others, consider joining Wiklnut. It may just be your experiences that encourage someone else to embrace recovery.

For additional articles on Addiction and Recovery by Marilyn Davis

Credits
Woman in Armor: Wikimedia Commons
Confused Man: Pixabay
Brick Man: Microsoft Clip Art

Tags

Addicts And Healing, Alcoholics And Healing, Dropping The Armor In Recovery, Healing In Recovery, Opening Up Heals You, Recovery From Addictions, Vulnerability

Meet the author

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
A Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, with 25 years of abstinence-based recovery. I write about addictions, recovery, life lessons and general writing tips.

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Comments

author avatar spirited
16th Jul 2014 (#)

interesting ideas Marilyn,

the right type of praise or connecting to someone certainly beats condemning them by your manor of speech.


Nothing new under the sun?Thank God we can learn to live above the sun then!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good evening, Spirited, in the context of behaviors, thoughts or feelings, thinking that ours are unique or that no one else has ever done, thought or said similar, is short-sighted - there is nothing new under the sun. By exposing our most shame based behaviors and finding that others have done the same helps us heal. Are there things that are new under the sun, of course. Thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar spirited
16th Jul 2014 (#)

my comment was a little tongue in cheek, but I was trying also to point out that each of us is brand new under the sun too. We are all uniquely us, with our own personality, but you are right, our archetypal patterns are the same for all of us.

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author avatar Retired
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Recovery starts with self. Thanks for sharing your self-made story.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good evening, LeRain; thank you for reading and commenting. ~Marilyn

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good evening, Steve; thank you for moderating and the star. I'll get caught up with all my authors this weekend, including Spirited and you....~Marilyn

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author avatar Ptrikha
16th Jul 2014 (#)

An inspiring article. At times, we hesitate to seek help from others fearing that we might be used by others for their selfish motives and also due to our inbuilt and inborn inhibitions.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Ptrikha; excellent points. We have all been used and used others. I think dropping our guard is frightening; however, I did find people early in my recovery that did not have self-serving motives that would harm me. Certainly some had some ego involved (she smiles). Thanks for your addition to the article. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Mariah
16th Jul 2014 (#)

'Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light'...such a powerful, yet beautiful example of conveying how we must face our demons head on before we can enjoy the euphoria of tranquility... without the barrier of fear and obstacles in our way, that very much applies to life in general
too Marilyn doesn't it!
It's when we are at our most vulnerable that we need a helping hand yet it's at those times we also put up a wall to shut people out to protect ourselves from that vulnerability and from the big bad world.
Very inspiring post Marilyn

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Mariah; thank you. It is a conflicting experience to understand that we need help, yet so fearful of whom to trust. Yet, in our addictions, we trusted any drug dealer, never verifying quality, quantity, or the like because we simply wanted to experience some other feeling or reality. Building on this, we trust in others, in much the same manner. Will we get the wrong answers for us or suggestions that are not authentic? Yes, we will; however, it is the attitude of trusting that allows us to find genuine solutions for us and then using our courage to make appropriate changes. Again, thanks for your additional observations and comments about the subject. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Helen Thomas
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Thanks for sharing this powerful message ~ Marilyn. Certainly in living our daily lives, we often encounter this paradox: we understand and KNOW that we need help but tend to become fearful of whom to trust.

Blessings to you!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Helen; yet when we do find trustworthy people, we need to value and respect their guidance. Thank you for your additional insights on the subject. ~Marilyn

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author avatar C.D. Moore
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Yes!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, C.D. Thanks! ~Marilyn

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
16th Jul 2014 (#)

so much contained herein dear Marilyn...so very true indeed.. and perfect vulnerability is perfect protection...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Carolina; thank you as always for your kind words. Blessings and light to you, friend. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Powerful article...I agree...only when we open our hearts and seek the help do we start to heal...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Valerie; you are correct, we have to open up to heal. Thanks for the addition to the subject. I appreciate that. ~Marilyn

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author avatar M G Singh
16th Jul 2014 (#)

nice expressive post

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Jul 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Madan; thank you for reading and the kind comment. I appreciate both. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
27th Jul 2014 (#)

We can feel alone and isolated, unable to trust even our shadow but we have to step put to the real world sooner or later. Good post, Marilyn - siva

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Siva; thank you as always for reading and commenting. I appreciate both. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Margaret Michel
14th Aug 2014 (#)

Interesting piece! Thanks for sharing!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
14th Aug 2014 (#)

Good morning, Margaret; thank you for commenting.

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author avatar Retired
9th Nov 2015 (#)

it is hard to be vulnerable...

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