Whiskey, Neat, With A Shot of Vulnerability
“Ash, this doesn’t sound very spiritual…” you’re probably saying to yourself. I know. A lot of people think that. I met with a girl who does reiki a few weeks ago and mentioned something and she was immediately like, “Not to be a mom or anything, but you probably shouldn’t be doing that. It’s bad for you.”
Honestly, I enjoy a glass of wine. Or a bottle, if I’m having a good night. And here’s the other thing about all that drinking I did over the weekend – I connected with people on a deep level. People who were carrying pain that needed to be let out and healed, my own self included.
I find it humorous, the number of times that people I have conversations with observe, “Wow. That got really deep, really fast.” That’s not common for them, but it’s common for me. That’s where I live.
Maybe my presence gives them permission to explore parts of themselves they wouldn’t otherwise be comfortable exploring. Maybe they learn something about vulnerability from me. Maybe the alcohol allows them to let their guard down just enough to be vulnerable and my demeanor makes them feel safe in doing so. Maybe the bar is my unconventional therapy office.
The universe must agree with me, since I somehow magically manifested free drinks ALL DAY LONG on Sunday. The bar tender at brunch accidentally made an extra drink. The next bartender poured the wrong glass of wine for another customer and gave it to me. The next bar tender gave us all free shots. And then the owner of the bar gave me another glass of wine on the house after I told her about my psycho dad ambushing me in a BBQ restaurant parking lot to give me an exorcism.
In the end, all humans want to connect with each other on a deep level. We’re just afraid to. We’re afraid to put ourselves out there because we’re afraid of what other people will think of us, or how they’ll react… so we don’t put ourselves out there at all. Until we get a couple of drinks in us and our defense mechanisms are slightly lowered.
Vulnerability typically results in one of two reactions:
#1: The other person gets really uncomfortable, avoids engaging, changes the subject, or completely disappears.
This person isn’t comfortable with vulnerability and it has nothing to do with you. They aren’t ready to be vulnerable, themselves. They haven’t opened the trap door in their soul and taken a good, long, hard look at what’s living in the shadows.
#2: The other person shows real empathy, and in many cases, reciprocates vulnerability.
This person may not necessarily be comfortable being vulnerable, but by doing it yourself, you’ve just given them permission to open up. You’ve proved to them that you’re not going to judge them, because you’ve just demonstrated that you know how it feels. You’re holding space for them.
I’ve been on both ends of that. When I first moved here, I was trying to make friends using Bumble BFF. I met a girl for coffee. We spent three hours just talking about life stuff – all of my craziness from moving here. Her alcoholic mother. I thought it was cool and we had good conversation, but when I texted her a week later to see if she wanted to hang out, she didn’t respond.
Being comfortable enough in your own skin to face the potential rejection that might come from being your vulnerable self is difficult. When you open up to someone and they run away, it makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you. Especially when it’s something that you can’t control, like a parent or family member. It’s not something you did… it’s something that was done to you. It’s a part of your life and you can’t change it. So when someone rejects you for that, it’s really difficult because they are, effectively, rejecting who you are.
I’m getting a lot better at being comfortable with who I am. Comfortable enough that if someone rejects it, it doesn’t bother me as much. I don’t care if everyone in my neighborhood thinks I’m the village weirdo. This is New York. There’s always going to be someone weirder than me…