Being a dancer I was conditioned and taught by others to not feel the extent of what I was feelings in my experience. I remember my first day when a woman took me under her wing and showed me the ropes of stripping.
She grabbed my arm and dragged me into the VIP dancing area and tossed me on the couch and threw herself on my lap and began dancing for me as if I was a customer.
Her warm legs pressing against me and her tiny hands flirting with my body.
The dancer said to me, “do anything you want, but NEVER look clients in the eyes”.
The next moment she scared the shit out of me.
She caught me off guard and poked me in the space in between my eyebrows twice, HARD and said “You look at them right here”.
Being a fresh 20 year old in a strange place without prior friends, I internalized this advice and integrated it into the stripper I would become. I didn’t know any better.
I realized from that moment I needed to protect myself, not only from the customers, but from the working women as well.
I was so frightened by this scenario, the next thing I knew I was putting the left 8 inch heel on the right foot and the right 8 inch heel on the left foot.
I stood up and she told me, “Oh hunny, your shoes are on the wrong feet!”
From that moment, the fear of the unknown created a barrier to my feelings. I decided it wasn’t safe to be free in this place. I realized that my innocence would not do in this setting.
My “thick skin” would begin forming that day.
I learned that I had to cut off the life line to feeling in order to succeed in this realm. I created a system in my mind where feelings were to be shamed. Feelings did not make me money, they actually hindered it.
I learned how to be inauthentic in exchange for financial gain.
I learned that vulnerability was a weakness and not a virtue.
I learned to shut my feelings off. I avoided looking at the pain, sadness, frustration that was brought up through the experiences I had in the strip club and I built a solid base layer of shame and self-resentment (I’m not worthy of human connection).
Vulnerability wasn’t even in my vocabulary. I went through life with a dark cloud of these experiences looming over me. I would find myself lashing out in inopportune times, thinking that was vulnerability.
Now, As I wonder how to step into vulnerability in a good way, I begin to explore the depths of the word.
Traditionally, the definition of vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
In this way, vulnerability is not a virtue.
Vulnerability can be looked at in a different way; in a way that allows us the opportunity to breathe and rest from all the internalized trauma we’ve experienced.
Being vulnerable means feeling everything; the sadness, fear, pain, joy, and happiness. Being vulnerable means sharing with ourselves and others honestly where we truly are in this journey of life.
The light side of vulnerability allows for connection and growth, while the formal definition, or the dark side of vulnerability hinders connection and growth.
With vulnerability as a virtue, we can begin to let go of perfectionism, and pretending to be something/someone we’re not. We can step into courage and self compassion that will allow us to authentically connect with others and grow.
Vulnerability as a Virtue
As I step into a new space each moment, I proclaim that I am here to be seen and to love with my whole heart.
I know there is no guarantee of what will come next, so I will practice gratitude and joy in these moments of terror.
That’s what vulnerability is about, it’s meeting the fears head on, choosing to push against them with courage. That’s how we build strength.
I believe that I am worthy of taking up this space. I believe that I am enough to share my story. Whoever disproves or doesn’t like me can drift away from my life.
I am committed to my growth and expansion as an infinite being living in this beautiful human body form.
The fear of feeling fear, sadness, takes up more time and space than simply feeling it all.
Avoiding the feelings of shame, unworthiness, and loneliness have been sucking the life out of me. It’s time to lean into them with courage and see what happens.
I feel it all.