Mariella Frostrup wrote recently that in her time as agony aunt, the same theme is as prevalent now as it was when she started – loneliness and connection. Although we appear to be separate, this separation is an illusion. It is a sufficiently powerful and seductive illusion that our ego, our personality-construct, can be lured into believing it is real and therefore create a reality in which it becomes true. We become arsey, brittle, sharp, full of ourselves when inside we’re crying out for help, for connection.
We create a self-fulfilling prison in which our love, our joy, our freedom, our spirit, all languish and suffer, desperate to be given the oxygen of love and connection but trapped within layers of self-created separation. It’s a freezing of the heart – inside, it’s warm, pulsing, loving, waiting and wanting to connect, but around it are layers of armoured prickly ice.
What does it take to thaw this ice?
The answer, of course, is love.
Love is a combination of joy and vulnerability. Love is the most vulnerable emotion because you can’t experience joy, full deep joy, without being fully deeply open. And when you’re fully open, you also expose your vulnerabilities. And that requires courage.
I used to think that my vulnerabilities were shameful, a sign of weakness, and therefore deeply unattractive – repulsive even. I used to think that if I showed that I could cry like a little boy, be small and pathetic, be hurting, somehow that meant I was unworthy of proper loving. I’d put on a brave face – ‘No, I’m fine, I’m ok’ – while inside I was crying. It took me many years and many tears to realise that not only was I not doing myself any favours, I wasn’t bringing and offering my whole heart to love.
To my surprise, I found that when I had the courage to express my own vulnerabilities, something warm got touched in the other person – and if it didn’t, the worst that happened was I experienced pain and shame. And pain and shame are just feelings, and like all feelings, they pass. They are simply clouds in the sky of love, and love’s sunshine burns them off.
There is a beauty and a self-generated strength in vulnerability. This cannot be known until experienced, but vulnerability has magic in it. If the person you share your vulnerability with is ready, it is perhaps the most effective heart-thawer possible. The sheer rawness of your vulnerability can give their heart and soul a lifeline, a way through their layers of armoured prickly ice.
There is, of course, no guarantee. There is never a guarantee. But until you’re prepared to risk all, reveal all, share all, how might the person you love get enough strength and trust to break free from their prison? To experience the deepest truth about love – that the more you give, the more you receive?
For this is the secret, the kernel of love – it doesn’t ‘take’, you don’t ‘lose’, there is no ‘price’. The secret is that the more you give the more you receive.
How to reach this place of courage and vulnerability? That is the heart of the next blog.