Today I was faced with stepping out from around a very thick, very strong wall into the most vulnerable state I believe I have ever been in. Vulnerability is basically uncertainty, taking a risk with your heart, your soul, and emotions. Before I could be vulnerable I had to trust in someone else, completely trust in her. I knew I trusted T, I knew she has always had my best interests at heart, I knew that she has a passion for her patients, and her work, but I had only offered her little bits of my trust over the last three months. It wasn’t because I was trying to control anything, or hide anything even; I only knew how to give her little bits of my trust. I realized today I have never trusted someone, not the way she was asking of me, not enough to be completely vulnerable. She has been tiptoeing around this for weeks, making me think about our therapeutic relationship, what I was willing to do, to work on, to allow her to see. Every time I left her I would spend the next hour or so contemplating what it is she wanted from me. What did I have to give her? What could I give her? Then today in the middle of a session I saw it, I understood it. The power of what she was asking brought me to tears, yes even me. She wanted me to be vulnerable, to trust her in a way I have never trusted another human. It wasn’t a one way request though, in return she was there offering unconditional acceptance for whatever I brought to her. She was offering me the chance to grow in a relationship where I could trust even if I didn’t do everything she wanted perfectly she wouldn’t abandon me, wouldn’t give up. I must have asked her about 100 “well what if I did this, or said this questions.” She never flinched. How this is possible I have no idea. I never learned how to deal with uncertainty or how to manage emotional risk, how to allow myself to be vulnerable. I have spent a lot of years trying to outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. Now she is asking me to lean into vulnerability and trust, and much to my shock I think I have.
And so begins a new chapter? One I am sure will have drama, fear, rebellion and doubt. However today I realized it will also have the potential to be the greatest chapter so far. How many can say they have someone is willing to see all the scary stuff with them, to take and hold their fear with them, and not leave? I do. Now I cannot wait for the journey to expand. Am I scared? Yes, I am absolutely terrified and have already asked for reassurance from her. But at the same time I am amazed. When I come to a bedside, and truly meet that patient where they are, when I draw near, I am always in awe of their ability to trust that I am really there. Those connections no matter how brief still have an essence of magic to them for me, I hope they always will. To hear, to feel that someone will, or wants to be that for me seems impossible. To look ahead and see the depth of trust that will take on both sides is nothing short of incomprehensible, and humbling. It will be a trust beyond measure. Yes, it moved even me to the point of tears, because it is the greatest challenge and gift anyone has ever extended to me. I cannot tell you what emotions it brings to life to think maybe in these lessons I will be safe. That those lessons may come wrapped in shoulders to cry on, arms to hold me, ears to listen, lips to affirm and witness, and with a heart to care and believe in me until I am ready to believe in myself seems like God’s grace extended to me through T.
I have no way of understanding the power of knowing I will always be embraced and accepted, wherever I am on my journey. That she is willing to be there to reflect my thoughts and understandings back to me so that I can find my own answers, and to know that I can be totally real and trust that I can expose the raw and frightened parts of me, and not be judged, criticized or abandoned scares me and gives me hope.
My T has held me up, believed in me during my darkest days, and given me the strength believe I am worth the air I breathe, yes I trust you.
Now for the real work. I am ready.