This was a challenge laid down by a friend, what did it mean? I thought I had expressed my feelings as well as I’ve been able, have I held back? Perhaps at times, but only feelings that I felt did not make sense, couldnt be explained, or were just plain dull and boring, of course some feelings that I have not wanted to show, perhaps I have not been as open as I may think.
We all have our vulnerabilities, weak points, I’ve been thinking about mine. Those feelings I dont tend to express, not wanted to show. Mine are about friends, about lovers, about those most important in my life, how I feel about them. My fear has been vulnerability, being open, letting down my guard and being hurt. I have thus spent a good deal of my life pretending I did not care, by that I mean I try to appear self sufficent, that I didnt need anyone, I’m all right Jack. I have deliberatley never let myself get too close to other people, with two exceptions, my Son & my X. I gave the impression I did not mind if people liked me or not, that I did not need relationships, that love and affection was for softies. I was bullshitting, totally and utterly.
I have figured out this way of operating has its roots it my childhood. As a child my father told me over and over, don’t trust anyone else, they will let you down, look after yourself, dont show your feelings, people will take advantage of you, don’t cry, be a man. Funnily enough with time I came to realise that my father was not a strong man himself, he was deeply falable, a lost soul. I learnt much from him, unfortunately quite a lot that was not good. I avoided and indeed positively vowed if I became a father I would never follow many of his ways. I ignored his advce on a number of fronts, I even cry, (I do my absolute best to make sure I am not caught in the act), but on some level the covering up of emotion, the not letting your vulnerable side out to the world, the rely on yourself stuff, that I took on.
So that has meant that in some ways like my father I have not made close friendships, not been open to friends on anything other than a superficial level, sure, when I put my mind to it I can be a jolly fellow, I can talk, god, I can talk about any old rubbish you want, but try to have a meaningful conversation with me and you are barking up the wrong tree. Or perhpas I should say you would have been, now I suspect that it’s a little different.
My father died alone, he had managed to push away everyone that had ever cared about him. In a way that is a sceptre, I do not want to end my days alone, unloved, unrecognised. Last year I started working differently, I began to talk, I began to think, I began to listen and I began to hear. I began to write.
I spent a deal of the last year with female company, I began my year feeling worthless, un-interesting, unfanciable, unlovable. I needed to feel wanted, to feel desrired, the only thing that would make me feel better about myself back then was if a woman could show me through her interest in me that I had worth. It was a pretty bad state of affairs that I could only find value in myself throgh the eyes of another person, but that was the fact of the matter.
Looking back I was in no state to have a relatioinship on any meaningful level with any woman, I am still a little way off, but mircale of miracles, I found I could talk to women, they could talk to me, some of them actually liked me, some actually faniced me, I was not finished. As time went on, still on some sort of level shell-shocked I found that not only was it possible to be a attractive to a woman, but that I could desire in return, I could perhaps even love.
Believe me this may sound ridiculous, but I assure you it was the first stage in me finding any value in myself at the lowest point in my life.
This was just a first stage, the theory was proven as you might say, it got me off first base. I could perfectly easily meet somebody special. But with one particular woman I realised it was only the first part of the story, I met an adorable, interesting, gorgeous woman, I fancied her, even when she made me angry or she was sad I found her absolutely adorable. The but, of course was that you cannot be comfortable with another person if you are not comfortable with yourself. You cannot live through somebody else, life starts with yourself, and I hadnt found myself.
I realised I was a decent man, that I had potential, that I was capable, but I equally realised it was not enough, there was something missing, I needed to change, to find another way of living, of being, that the old way no longer served. That in a way was like a second step backwards, the focus wasnt out there somewhere, it wasnt about anyone else, it was about me. My battle was with myself.
I am still fighting, its a bit of a trench warfare situation, all mud and mire, up to my knees. But I am heading for the Big Push, I think it is going to be a six month campaign from here on, then its over the top, victory is in site. I’ve been joined by new friends who I like very much and who’s company I value, if they stay around great, if they need to head off then we will catch up another time, the thing is I am not alone, I never was alone, I always had freinds to talk to, I just wasnt listening.
I have more clarity now in my mind, maybe not peace, but the future has promise.There is no woman in my life, granted, I miss that Ms and in a way it seems ironic that before I was not capable of truly loving, now I believe I am and a lot of loving is unused, but I daresay we will work it all out at some point.
& as for feeling vulnerable, well that is what being alive is all about, I would rather have moments of joy, and the downs, after all nothing lasts forever.
I think back to my father, if I had one last conversation with him, man to man, I would say, Dad, you were wrong you know. The most important things in life are your partner, your friends, your family, they need every ounce of love you have. You give it unconditionally and you trust, even when things go wrong, without an open heart you cannot love and you cannot live.