I've always had posture issues. In part because my core muscles are too busy trying to digest the cookies I ate for lunch instead of working to hold the upper half of my body up straight.
Unfortunately, I think the other reason for my potential hunchbackness is that my body is an extension of the way I present myself to the world. Back arched. Shoulders tilted in. Head down with minimal eye contact. Closed. My body screams "solicitors don't even try."
My theory is that this is my brain's way of trying to protect myself from sadness and heartache. If I'm not open to people, I can't get hurt, right?
But the thing is, no amount of posturing can protect you from the hard things. You can lay on the couch binge-watching Netflix, go to great lengths to avoid the people in your life who are unsafe, hide behind seemingly righteous anger, or even glue those rose colored glasses to your face, but sadness will inevitably find you.
I did a fairly decent job of avoiding sadness most of my life, in part thanks to growing up in front of the TV where I watched fictional families like the Tanners solve all their problems with really good hugs. But primarily it was thanks to my mother, who went to great lengths sheltering me from all that was bad and sad in the world, but who really was just trying to shelter her own heart from that which was too hard to face.
But sadness finally caught up to both of us the day I found my mother after she ended her life. The day I discovered the true depth of her hidden pain, and how it was intricately connected to my own.
It was the biq quake we had both been avoiding our whole lives, and it surfaced in such a way that irrevocably severed my heart.
And then the aftershocks came. More deaths. Sickness. Life-changing accidents. And all the emotional turmoil that follows when the people you love crumble around you.
It's the kind of pain that shakes your foundation. Causes so much fear, grief, and anxiety that going into hiding, the crutch I’d became well accustomed to, seemed the most logical solution to avoiding those hard feelings, meanwhile, watching and waiting in the sidelines for the next shoe to drop.
Rejoining the world of floristry again, I've been thinking a lot about the parallels between nature and emotion. Flowers humbly open themselves up to the elements, despite the risks of predators and climate, knowing it's the only way they, and their fellow flowers, can get the nourishment they need to survive. Flowers are a part of an intricately designed community that is only as strong as its individuals are open. To be a flower is to be courageous. To be a flower is the definition of being vulnerable.
But boy oh boy is being vulnerable scary. Opening yourself up for letdown, disappointment, failure, pain. Letting the world see who you really are and how you really feel means risking they will not accept nor support you.
I’ve walked with much fear and anxiety in my life, particularly surrounding my mother’s suicide. It has often prevented me from participating, being present, loving fully, and working towards my goals. But what I’ve been learning is that if we put ourselves out there, even when it’s scary and we don’t think people will understand, we realize that actually, everyone is just as scared, just as flawed, and yeah, also dealing with really hard and heavy stuff.
Mustering the courage to become more vulnerable with each other is the greatest feat, but also offers us our greatest opportunity for connection. Vulnerability is not only healing for ourselves, but it invites others to be more vulnerable with us. Facing the ugly, beauty, and the mysterious in-between—together and out in the open—helps us hold each other up.
So what does this mean for us hunchers? Well, we may always feel the weight of our grief, fear, and anxiety pushing us down, but it’s never too late to lookup and face the sun, even if it’s just a little at a time. That’s my goal for this blog, in fact. I think vulnerability might just be natures way of leading us toward a life more fully lived.