Anyhoo my mum told me this past weekend that my personality had changed since I gave up alcohol and that I appeared more vulnerable now. I first reacted (inside my head) like "what do you mean vulnerable I'm incredibly hard and cool and feisty and together and on top of things thank you very much!!!!!!" and then after about a minute of processing it I decided to relax about her observation and accept that it must be tied in with that 'raw' thing I've been going on about since I got sober. I've used other cliched words like 'present' and 'clear'...but 'vulnerable' was new and it's stayed with me since.
Then today I remembered about this TED talk by the social researcher Brene Brown which I've had people rave on to me about but have never bothered watching to be honest (everybody in the world probably has already judging by the number of hits on her YouTube clips) .. so anyway today I finally had a listen.
So what does Brene Brown say about vulnerability? She says of all the individuals she has researched (interviewed and analysed) throughout her career .. those who appear to live 'wholeheartedly' (that is the people who believe they're worthy of love and belonging) were all united by the fact that they fully embraced vulnerability. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they actually were. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, they just talked about it being necessary.
And she said that while vulnerability is at the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness it appears to also be the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.
However, she said (and I couldn't believe this) WE NUMB VULNERABILITY by spending money, by eating, by drinking or doing drugs, by trying to make uncertain things certain, by trying to make the imperfect perfect etc etc.
Well hello what is steady heavy wine consumption (like I used to practice) if it's not numbing vulnerability I ask you??!!
Brene Brown: "The problem is that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can't say, here's the bad stuff, here's vulnerability, grief, shame, fear, and disappointment ... I don't want to feel these things I'm going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions. So when we numb those we numb joy. We numb gratitude. We numb happiness. And then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning and then we feel vulnerable and we look for a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. It's a vicious cycle."
So yeah... I guess that by taking away the wine, I have let myself be vulnerable. Mum got it right, but I've never thought of it like that. I always knew I was 'raw' and feeling the ups and the downs more.. but I didn't know it lead to appearing vulnerable. But according to Brene Brown that is not a bad thing at all.
And as Clarence said to Alabama in 1993's True Romance (love that film!); "You've got to take the crunchy with the smooth". How true that is about a sober life.
Nice pop culture reference to end there.
Love, Mrs D xxx