• Brooke Thomas

Addendum #2: No More Bricks in the Wall

I wished I could firmly state that I am as brave as I expressed in my last post. The truth is, I have always thought I was vulnerable but it’s just recently that I’ve come to understand that I am not. It is easy for me to be open about facts—even the really difficult things that I have faced. I can tell you that anxiety and intrusive thoughts and compulsions have taken months away from me. I can talk about the fact that I got sober almost 12 years ago. I’m more than adept at expressing my myriad shortcomings (I can be impatient and judgmental and critical). But, listing these challenges is hardly being vulnerable. I might be oversharing but am I truly allowing myself to really connect to another and become (in the words of David Whyte) “larger and more courageous and more compassionate”?

The reality is that to connect with another can bring the tightest ball in the center of my chest that threatens to choke me. I can feel the resistance against touching another soul. If only this ball would loosen and break apart, I would feel so much more freedom to love and be loved. Allowing ourselves to be seen and loved for all that we are will be a life-long process for most of us. If we’re honest, we are afraid to let our deepest desires known and have learned to hold them close, lest we are rejected or told we are too much—that we should be different than we really are. The converse of this is that in order to be open and connect, we must let others in and be open to their whole selves. As a wise reader of the blog pointed out, our vulnerability isn’t only about our being seen and heard but that we are also called to hold space for others to be seen and heard.

None of my fears of vulnerability or the desire to wall up against it are that unusual. I do feel fortunate that years of therapy and my major mental health reckoning have forced me to not just acknowledge these fears of openness and longings to get truly closer to others. I have started to take the messy, arduous actions that allow me to see buds of possibility. The vulnerability is wildly uncomfortable, and ideally, I’d like to live on a linear path of black and white--all to a defined end. But I have come to recognize that the calculated and curated will never make me content nor will it ever permit me to tear down these walls that allow for the electricity of connection.

I do want to be seen and heard, even if it all feels so messy and naked. Maybe, more importantly, I am finally ready to see and hear others and hold space for their pains and joys. Whether exhilarating or maddening (or both), our deep desire for connection is a lifeblood that energizes us and I hope that we will all experience that spark and take the risk to stand before and with another who also hopes to see and be seen.

I started these posts as an offshoot of The Unglossed podcast, which was born out of wanting to hear the real and messy stories of how to live, even when life knocks you flat and it all makes no sense. I worry that it is indulgent to share my musings with the world, but at this point, I don’t care (mostly). I feel such a pull to learn how to love myself and others and break down these walls of fear. I hope my writing is a conduit to reach another person and be recognized and if I am fortunate, be able to know another.


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