Towkarn (towkarn) wrote,


So I've recently been talking to someone very dear to me about... well, that's not particularly important for what I'm going to say, nor do I wish to betray their trust by even nearing the actual topic; so let's just say we reached the point in a conversation where I began questioning the commonly understood definition of something.

This time, it's the word "vulnerability" and the hidden meaning there.

Now we all know what it means, dictionary-definition-wise, and how it's commonly used. It means to be or to show weakness, to have a "soft spot" of some kind, the flaw that cracks the diamond. In gaming we see that vulnerable spots are the part you target to take out the big boss. In sports it's a member of the team who's more a liability than an asset, or something the player hasn't trained in very much or just isn't very good at. In war it's the target we need to crush the enemy swiftly and with the path of least resistance.

In emotions it's feeling like you've been stripped of all your defences and you just KNOW that one word, one gesture, one tiny thing could break your soul to pieces and your heart will never be whole again.

What about the other side of vulnerability, though?
What about the way you feel when your lover takes hold of you, whispers their undying devotion to you, and takes all the weight off your shoulders? What about that feeling you get with friends who you can tell absolutely any secret? What about the way you look at your loved ones, those you let into your heart without a second thought, and the way you laugh and cry and rage with them?

We don't make ourselves vulnerable at these times. We just prove that we are. We show that we are creatures with hearts and souls, even if the mind wants to cover that up for fear we will be taken advantage of.

It's no small thing to feel so open, to understand how much something external can effect you.

But the same vulnerabilities can make us do some stupid things. We refuse to let people see us cry when we need someone to help us through it; we refuse to turn away from the snide comment that hit a little too close to home because the pain won't let go; we close our hearts to the suffering of others because we don't want it to be the reflection of our own that it is.

I talk a lot about masks and how we each wear masks for daily tasks and different circles. There's a special kind of mask that we put on when we feel that aching vulnerability that says we're going to break. It's the mask nobody sees. It's the mask that looks like a bedsheet thrown over a child's head as they cry in terror. It's the mask that looks like a locked door to a teenager's room when they're tearing themself to shreds because they don't know what else to do. It's the mask that looks like a smile and a stiff upper lip when you ask the broken person "how's life?". It's the mask that looks like a book full of poems that nobody will ever be allowed to read because the author is still so ashamed. It's the mask that looks like a fist colliding with someone's face because they used that word again. It's the mask that looks like two people in bed, turned away from each other because they can't bring themselves to break the silence and sat what they both long to hear.

It's a mask I wish we could all do without.

The truth is: I like the vulnerability I feel around my loved ones. Sometimes I still put on that mask, tell myself nobody wants to deal with my problems because they all have their own burdens. Other times I toss that mask in the bin and show myself, heart and soul, to the people I care for. Because I know they care for me, too, and that just makes the openness of the heart all the sweeter.
Tags: masks

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