A dip into vulnerability, because we all have them!


What do you do when it hurts inside? What do you do when at times you have a gnawing feeling in your gut saying give up? It is like being pulled into a trance, a vortex and a hole all at once. On the outside you smile when you can. On the inside you cringe every time you hold back a tear.

The worst thing is the risk that someone will know or that if they do you will burden them with your troubles. But when the emotions are raw it’s hard to hide.  A simple mistake by your son evokes a hurricane of anger in response. All he did was forget to tell you to get some bread while you were at the shops. All you did was forget to get some bread for him. Neither is life ending. We will be fine. But the crack opens more and a glimpse of the pain gets out.

Quickly I cover it up with more irritation. If I shoot blame at my family no one will notice. They won’t see that inside I am tormented. They won’t know. I can’t burden them with this. The storm passes. Peace is restored. Love prevails.

Yet I still feel like a failure. To me I am an utter failure, today at least.  I am on a mission to change the world but where are the results I ask? Yes again I set my sights too high, or did I? I don't know.  How did this happen? Yesterday I was a star on a path of success, mind you measured on other people's terms. When did I take the wrong turn. Why did I choose the reverse path rather than go forward. How did I succumb even to this point of self judgement? Yuck.

Yes in terms of spiritual journey I have grown. Measured by lifetimes not days, weeks or months. I am a different person than I was 5, 10, 15, even 40 years ago.  But I don’t like the person I have become. I don’t like the duplicitous nature of my ways. I don’t like me. My personality is not my friend anymore.  Why is she not getting along with me? Why can’t I work in unison? I know it is because the true me wants to be here every day, not just when I grant permission.

I look back at times in my life when I did have it worked out. Maybe I was in denial but at least I seemed to be less stressed out.  Summer days at university studying, lying by the pool, hanging with friends. Time seemed to stop. I was in a bubble. It was not necessarily reality but I had a day to day life and reality that engaged me. I ran. I swam. I was an active person. I had friends. I saw my family. My parents were still alive. It was nice.

Even working long hours in my first job were good for me. I had a sense of purpose that fit in with society's expectations. I wanted to do the best I could in my career. My career path was laid out. I knew where I was going. I was not lost.  I knew where I was going. This is the key phrase. As long as somehow I had a direction I was aiming myself through action.

At some point it seems I have lost my sense of direction and purpose, well in terms of how I used to define purpose.  The words themselves even seem intangible, surreal. For God’s sake, I work with people  helping them figure out their purpose. I know why mine is so out of touch though. Mine is so damn big. When I contemplate why I am here and really tune into the potential of it I am scared. Literally scared. I am scared what will happen to me. I am scared what will happen to my family. I am scared of losing me, losing control of my life. I DO KNOW my purpose. This is what stops me in my tracks.

The tension though is enormous because I want more than anything to make a difference in this world. I want to do my part. I want to really do something that lasts longer than 140 characters in a noisy stream of text on a hand held device. I want what I do to change the way we work, to change the heart of how we do business. I want to be a catalyst. But to be a catalyst means you need to be prepared for the backlash. Am I ready for that? Not sure. I am not a thick skinned politician. I am a sensitive peacemaker who wants to initiate change.

So what I am told to do is start small, look at the little steps. I know the jargon, I used to teach it.  Break down the big scary goal into bite size chunks and then do each one at a time. Yeah. Sounds so good in theory. In reality my passion is on fire and I am cranky. Really cranky!!!!  

Here’s where the tension makes sense. I tread a fine line between domestic bliss and reality of the task at hand.  The work I do is easy and actually gives me joy.  The work I want to do is challenging and makes me excited but nervous just thinking about it. Stay in the comfort zone. Stay safe. Stay behind so no one sees me. Stay hidden.

But for how long?

Then I pause for a moment. I have lots of moments. Most of them are amazing. Most of them are blessed with joy, literally. All you have to do is look at my writing. I share these moments.  In fact when I appreciate the regularity of my joy I realise that this dip in vulnerability is a message. Pay attention. Notice what is coming up.  I notice. I notice that there is this place inside of me that wants to get in the way. A part of me wants to play with my success and I am letting this part speak too loudly. Or am I? Maybe the rebel in me is trying to get me off my butt and take action. I think this it it.  Did I have to get the message this way?

So here is where it perplexes me. This is me writing but it is not the real me. The real me is vivacious, bubbly, funny, silly, meaningful, heartfelt. The list is endless in all humility. I can look in the mirror and smile. Even in a dip.  The real me goes with the flow, inspires people and brings light into a room.  The real me respects the rebel and invites her to play.

Ok I get it. I am ready.

Jenn Shallvey