I was lying awake Friday night, with one hand over my heart repeating “I am safe, I am loved” over and over, the other by my nose so I could smell the essential oil I just put on to help ground myself back to the present moment, to help bring down my anxiety.
If you haven’t heard of a vulnerability hangover, then I highly encourage you to check out Brene Brown’s work. It’s a thing. It’s that feeling that often leads us to ask ourselves why we did that, why we shared that, why we opened ourselves up in that way.
It can be a great thing, but that doesn’t make it any less scary and at times, yes, also anxiety producing.
This is where I’m about to get vulnerable with you. If that makes you uncomfortable, I welcome you to close this tab and come back another day. If you’re willing to view my vulnerability and hold my hand as we all take a step forward together, then please stay with me.
I recently started dating someone. I haven’t mentioned it here yet and up until just a few days ago, I hadn’t mentioned it to my family either. Close friends and some coworkers knew, but it’s new and sharing much about my relationship or dating life in general, makes me nervous, especially sharing it with my family.
I don’t know why that is. They love me, they support me, they pick me up when I am down and they have been there when past relationships have come to heart-breaking ends, and honestly, maybe that’s all part of it. But regardless of the reason, telling them I have a new man in my life can be difficult and scary.
This relationship has been surprisingly easy from the beginning, as in the very moment I started chatting with and first met B. Those moments of over-thinking and worry that often built up fast and strong in past relationships have been nearly non-existent or were quickly and easily squashed, so when we decided to put an official title to the relationship, I felt the safety to tell my family.
And courage it took. I was nervous and while they were excited and happy for me, there were still comments made that left me feeling exhausted, anxious and ultimately a bit hungover.
I drove to work the following morning with a grounding essential oil on, one hand over my heart, listening to a podcast and reminding myself that I was safe, that I was loved, and that I was okay. I guess it was only fitting that this was exactly how my day would end, still feeling the pressure of sharing my truth.
When I texted a friend about how I felt, she responded by saying, “It’s vulnerability. We are vulnerable.” The podcast in my ears as I drove to work was talking about vulnerability and it kept popping up in my mind over and over throughout the day.
I was feeling that vulnerability hangover that Brene Brown talks about. I was feeling it because through telling my family that I was in a relationship, it suddenly made me face my fears and open myself back up to this idea that being in a relationship means we have to be open to pain, hurt, and the potential risk of said relationship ending.
The vulnerability hangover hit me like a ton of bricks.
When I couldn’t sleep Friday night, I texted B. I told him my anxiety was getting to me and he said his brother tells him to read in those moments, to busy his mind so it gets exhausted, and he can fall back asleep. I was in bed, hand over my heart, repeating my mantra, then got out of bed, grabbed my laptop, and 3 hours after I initially fell asleep, started writing this post. I watched Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on “Listening to Shame” (embedded below) and I reminded myself how brave and courageous and amazing it is to open yourself up, to be vulnerable, and to enter the arena.
“Get in the arena, show up, do your thing and don’t be afraid to get your ass kicked a little bit.” -Brene Brown
Will I wake up with a vulnerability hangover tomorrow after sharing this with you all? Yes, I likely will. As I read it back to myself, editing along the way, I can’t help but already begin to feel the tears well in my eyes afraid of the response that I may receive. I find myself wondering if I should send this to a friend for approval and to ensure that I am not being too open and vulnerable with the world. Am I saying too much? Am I sharing feelings that I should really just keep to myself? Will I re-read this in the morning and wonder what part of me felt like this was OK to say?
It is okay to be vulnerable.
It is okay to put yourself out there, to open yourself up, to share your heart and your truth with others, whether they are strangers or loved ones, or a combination of those in between.
It is okay to be vulnerable.
It is okay to realize that people may read this who I am afraid to read it. All I can do is be me, be authentic and true, and remember that those who accept me for who I am are the only people I want around me at the end of the day anyway.
I encourage you to be vulnerable. Face your fears, accept your truth, join me in the arena. Don’t be afraid of getting your ass kicked a little bit and know that if we aren’t waking up with a vulnerability hangover every once in awhile, we should probably question if we’re actually pushing ourselves and our limits.