The Reward in Vulnerability

There is a young man in my life right now who has been making an ongoing effort to ‘lower his walls’ more and not shut people out. Like many of us, he has had his share of pain and upset from various D/s and kink connections and has put up protective boundaries to shield himself from anyone screwing him again. He is also becoming aware that to do so is closing him off from truly connecting.

I can certainly speak to this as I have a history of childhood sex abuse that caused me to live with my own protective walls for decades. As a scared young child I put my trust in adult authority figures to receive their comfort and guidance, and in turn was sexually violated. It made me draw a conclusion that if I lower any kind of protective boundary somebody would take advantage and hurt me. For years I closed myself off to experiencing intimacy because of this. I would always be ‘guarded’ as I felt I needed to protect myself. And I thought this was a good thing. The problem was, I was also shutting out love.

I remember having a conversation about this recently with my mother, who as I have mentioned in previous blog entries is a bit of a Shirley Maclaine character in that she is very metaphysical in her approach to life. I asked her about all the instances where she appears to make herself an ‘easy target’ because she trusts so easily. Her response was interesting:

“At the end of the day son, I choose to trust because I simply feel better doing so.”

It was a little too simple for me to get at first. I thought maybe this is some kind of simplified resolution a person that age has after they have lived for x amount of years. But I pressed her about it as she’s always had a very deep spiritual view that has helped me through the years. My rebuttal was that it felt good to me that I was looking out for myself and protecting myself from any kind of future hurt, almost like I was being my own ‘champion’. But she challenged me with it (something she is horrifically good at – with the reading glasses perched on the bridge of her nose) and said, “you think you feel better by being so guarded, but in doing so you are also constantly reminding yourself that you were hurt once.” And then she gave me that ‘look’ with a pregnant pause to make it all set in before she continued. “I certainly understand that you want to protect yourself from being hurt again son, but in closing yourself off you’re essentially protecting yourself from life. And that’s fine, and you can do that as long as you live, and on your gravestone they’ll simply put, ‘HERE LIES DART. HE WAS VERY GUARDED.’    My choice to trust simply feels better, son.”

Yep. This is the woman who breastfed me.

She had a point though, especially with the gravestone comment (my mother simply goes for the jugular when it comes to being poignant). One can be as self-protective and guarded as long as they wish, but sooner or later it actually becomes a liability to embracing life. During that conversation she asked me how much extra energy I thought I was using in not trusting anybody due to my sexual abuse. I honestly couldn’t answer her because I reached a point where it simply was a part of me, almost like it was my identity. She pointed out that sooner of later I was going to realize that I had been using up a tremendous amount of happiness at the expense of being so closed off and scared. And that isn’t truly living.

Now this is not to say that there isn’t a certain amount of wisdom in caution. Obviously it’s a good thing, as this is what enables us to go through life making better choices for ourselves based on the times we fell down and got hurt in the past. In the case of leather and D/s relationships we have all had our share of upsets and bad things happening because well, we’re all human and that’s just simply part of the life experience. None of us are perfect in our design. We strive to recognize ‘red flags’ and things that did not work for us previously so as not to allow the hurt to return like it did before. But in the context of what my mother was sharing, the act of trusting and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is not done blindly. It’s taking all of the lessons we’ve learned from the past and filing them away as knowledge, and proceeding anyway. It’s making a conscious decision to engage in a connection knowing that “yes I may get hurt in this, but I may also experience something amazing and fulfilling. And if I do get hurt, I know I can survive it. I have before.”

Then it’s just simply a matter of jumping in with both feet!

To lower your guard and to trust is always a choice that you have in the moment, no matter how challenging others my have made it for you. If you want to have your greatest growth in your leather relationships and connections, and essentially the greatest rewards, sooner or later it is YOU that has to make the choice to trust. Yes it can be unbelievably scary, but in the face of that it can also be equally gratifying. And when you do so successfully you become aware that the choice to trust is something that nobody can ever take away from you ever.

When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you also allow love in, including self-love. And I definitely speak from experience there as I embrace the amazing life I have now with my incredible husband!  🙂