Vulnerability has led to new connections, experiences, growth and gratitude. Opening up has sparked new light on my trail.

For months I balked at the mere thought of facing vulnerability head on, authentically sharing my story, my innermost thoughts and fears. Rejection, dismissal, criticism, I feared being naked to the world.

Unforeseen and unmeasurable, not unlike the ball that changed my life, I celebrated the relief that presented itself once I finally mustered the courage to click the green publish icon following months of hesitation. There would be no hiding, no pretending that my recovery was miraculous; pristine mountain villages, smooth trails blooming with colourful alpine flowers while cowbells chimed and waterfalls create a mystical, soothing playlist. My reality is so much deeper than the paint of such an alpine picture. My index finger pressing the return key was an invitation to the global population into the paint; every detail, every emotion, every sentiment. Anyone who wanted had an open window to see the authentic reality of days that nearly broke me, times the only hope I had was that they would and how I am battling to make sense of and embrace the splattered paint. That celebration of relief lasted as long as the connection between hardball and skull, a fraction of a second.

Reluctance to publish my story was rooted in vulnerability; essentially, fear of judgment. Appearing weak, seemingly inadequate, could potentially lead to further self doubt and bruising of the already tarnished relationship with myself. It felt instinctual and natural to resist such potential danger and protect myself from society’s harm. My human nature resisted the risk of further humiliation to that which I already struggled in my battle to accept the ways a traumatic brain injury has changed me.

Running alone in mountains fosters the development of a stronger connection to myself; I am fulfilled by aloneness.  Showing up authentically without semblance or a protective shield, willing to share my story is beyond feeling vulnerable, it is vulnerability. Vulnerability is human nature; with Mother Nature, I am reminded of how insignificant I am. She adds perspective and infuses confidence to confront circumstances that feel precarious, to face feelings of vulnerability.  

Mother Nature’s work in the Himalayas instilled a power within me; a power in the form of speaking my story at the risk of vulnerability for the first time beyond clinical walls where therapy forced such communication.  Pushing my comfort zone, nudging personal boundaries began when trusted connections developed beyond that which I had felt only with Mother Nature. These trusted connections, in the form of super-humans, cushioned my reluctant gait, held out a hand with polite curiosity and heartfelt provocation to share my story.

Opening up has led to connections and experiences that, had I stayed in my protective mode within that zone of comfort, would have never made for chapters of developing growth in my story. Growth that has directed me to a place well aware of how easily I can be swept away by rumination, contemplating losses and exaggerated thoughts based in fear, products of my imaginations. Sharing the hardships, milestones and celebrations throughout the storyline challenges me yet inevitably has a tendency to heighten intimacy of relationships, assured I am not alone on this trail. Without authenticity, I would be burying emotions; denying them to myself and others. When I sense vulnerability creeping in, a new angle of exposure, I am learning to respond candidly and authentically deepening the relationship I have with myself, moving closer to who I really am. I am certainly not at a place of  allowing myself to consistently find comfort in the uncomfortable. Beyond feelings of vulnerability, actually being vulnerable has potential for infinite possibility. I am working to resist allowing fear of what might happen make nothing happen rather embracing  the potential vulnerability carries.

Being truthful in my struggles, courageous in my fears, I cannot control the reactions of others yet, use my vulnerability as an avenue I hope will gently guide them towards a place of inspiration in times of adversity. I am not going to become stronger, grow or thrive by staying within a zone of constant comfort. When I start to feel emotionally vulnerable, I have progressed to a place where I know to take a quick self-assessment, breathe and remind myself that these are simply feelings. These feelings only have the power that I allow them to have and, given patience and time, will pass like leaves floating down a river. Should the leaves get caught up in an eddy, I will pause, breath in courage and exhale fear trusting the river will calm and I will come out stronger and further ahead. 

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  1. Tom Stevens says:

    Solitude is a wonderful place if you visit it often enough.. It can be a safe harbor from vulnerability. Mother Nature is always waiting to reward you or remind you, but trusting your instincts builds confidence. Jill’s writing is something that enriches my times alone on the mountain. Knowing her is a gift that I open each time we connect. I look forward to reading her book someday, until then the blogs are an appetizer.

    • mountainsofmymind says:

      Solitude is wonderful indeed. As within the underlying theme of this post, the solitude I find only in Mother Nature has a way of withering away my vulnerability. She speaks to me in silence yet so powerfully awakens my perspective.
      Thank you for taking the time to read, listen to the podcast and follow my trails Tom; your heartfelt encouragement from Colorado is felt deep within here in Chamonix.