Today didn’t quite turn out the way I thought it would. Our 13-year-old needed to have some oral surgery because her two canines were completely impacted. I knew she was anxious. She is normally quiet, but she was especially quiet this morning. Every once in a while she would ask a question about the procedure, but for the most part she was…quiet.
As we drove to the clinic, I asked her, “where in your body are you feeling your anxiety?” I’ve begun to ask my kids that question because I think it’s a good thing to pay attention to. As a “heart” person, I mostly feel all my tension and anxiety in my chest. Others tend to feel their anxiety and tension in their heads while others tend to feel it in their gut.
“Um. My head and my tummy. I think.” She mumbled as she stared out the window.
Once we got into the clinic and the nurse did her talk and left the room, there I sat across from the cold conference table and watched helplessly as her composed self crumbled to a heap of tears. I swiftly made it around the table to draw her near me as she sobbed, “I hate this.”
All I could do was hold her as she cried, filling the empty cold room with heaving tears. I began to think of how often I equate the lack of emotion with strength or bravery or disinterest. Then it hit me:
Learning to be vulnerable takes two. I cannot learn it on my own.
Vulnerability takes practice. Many of us need a safe place to let our guard down in order to experience our own vulnerability and some of us need to be those safe places for others. At that moment, I was able to stand on the shoulders of those who have been pivotal in demonstrating this safe space for me so I could create that safe space for my child.
It was tough on this mom’s heart to watch her daughter struggle through the fear and anxieties she was swimming in. It was also good for me to remember those who have been my safe places in moments of vulnerability. To see the incredible strength and courage this young woman had entering into her own personal vulnerability. I could not have been more proud of her.