Feeling vulnerable has always been a struggle for me. Growing up, I tried to find my way out of any situation with pure effort and willpower. Having to ask for help felt like a chilling discomfort running up and down my spine. I felt imprisoned by the unspoken agreement of mutual trust that cooperation meant.
I trusted that I could go the extra mile for myself and others, but being crossed or let down by someone else has been one of the most insufferable pains I’ve yet encountered. The pain of abandonment, rejection and lack of empathy hits harder when you think you give everything you have for the other just to be discarded or used.
But as in everything that profoundly haunts us, this was just my biased perspective of what was actually happening. I am sensitive and willing to go to lengths for that and those I care for. However, I carry a sense of entitlement that makes me resent any unreciprocated efforts I perceive in others.
But why? I roamed in the dark for decades and recently found the answer.
I get chills, and my stomach revolts at the idea of rejection. There are few things I actively avoid as much as being rejected; only eating entrails or octopus could compare because only those things can make me feel that sick.
Whenever I care about someone, the same anxious-avoidant attachment impulse hits, and even when I present myself as strong, determined, intense, and yes… also arrogant, even when I am willing to show myself sincerely and tell my whole story (including my scars), I will ultimately stop when it’s about to get intimate enough to display my vulnerabilities, those open wounds that just can’t seem to heal.
Keeping it under control most of the time has become easier lately; however, if paired with a highly stressful period, I find myself spiralling out of control again. And then I get again the same response I’ve been trying to avoid: rejection followed by guilt, shame, and ruminating thoughts.
At the minimum thought of disapproval, the same repulsive shiver runs through my body from my feet to my teeth.
I KNOW that rejection is inevitable, and I UNDERSTAND that my fear of others not accepting and liking me makes me act in a way that completes my self-fulfilling prophecy.
And since I learnt early on that willpower and force can help avoid unwanted circumstances, I apply the same technique with the utmost futility because human matters can’t be forced!
When spiralling, I compulsively strive to control situations and feel safe again. But the thing with people is that you can’t control them! You can manipulate them, but I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of manipulation, and deep down, all manipulators know that their victims stay, to some extent, against their will.
I need a high sense of honesty, vulnerability and loyalty from people to feel safe. The exact same things I sometimes can’t deliver. I will be ready to run, abandon and escape when I think I’m about to be rejected.
And for love, I need to surrender. I crave belonging to someone’s oath over a sword. And if the other were to swing that sword, it would be to fight and defend what is ours and cut through the thicket.
Ultimately, fear is a shackle that will rot the arm of even the best warrior, so to become brave and free of this crippling pain of rejection, I must choose not to fight but to embrace. In that case, I will at least have the solace of knowing I went into the world with a diamond-bright armour of acceptance, having transformed any ounce of carbon coal resentment into something I can be proud of.