I’m terrified of vulnerability after losing both my parents. How do I shake this feeling and let people in?

During the last couple of years I have been slowly getting to know a woman. We don’t usually get a chance to chat for long, but when we do I feel like there’s a genuine connection there. We both seem really pleased to see each other, the conversation is easy and we both seem interested in getting to know each other. After knowing her for a year, I thought that we weren’t going to get to see each other as much and so I decided to show my gratitude to her and tell her how much I had enjoyed getting to know her. She seemed really touched by what I said and I think that we both developed a bit of a crush on each other afterwards. Then, I slowly realised that our circumstances weren’t changing quite as much as I thought and I still got to spend some time with her now and again. 

A few months later she came over to find me after her sister had given birth and she wanted to tell me about her nephew. We chatted about babies and how wonderful it is when there is a new addition to the family and things along those lines. We chatted for much longer than we usually do. After a while she looked really happy and choked on her emotions. There was something really beautiful about that moment and I realised that there was something really beautiful about her too. I think that I fell in love with her a bit. I suspect that she may have fallen in love with me too. We have had moments between us since then which have certainly suggested that this is the case.

I would really like to get to know her better. I want to really get to know her. I would love to learn everything about her. I want to know what makes her tick. I sometimes feel like she feels the same way about me. And I would love to let her really get to know me too. But, at the same time, this makes me feel quite vulnerable too. 

She knows that both my parents have died but I haven’t told her anything about how they died. When I was a teenager, my dad committed suicide. I had counselling for it and I have felt comfortable talking about this to others for the last 30 years. I have even written about my experiences. But there is just something about sharing what I went through with her that just makes me feel so vulnerable and I don’t like it at all. And this has made me pull away from her. 

Its like I feel that I have nowhere to hide with her. In some ways that is a really lovely feeling to have but it’s also a bit scary too. And it’s left me questioning what I want to do about it.

How do I stop feeling so vulnerable about it? – Anonymous

 

Thank you for sending this in.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge the depth of emotion you’ve expressed here. It’s evident that your feelings for this woman run deep and that you’re grappling with the prospect of opening up about a significant part of your life but struggling with the apprehension of doing so.

I personally also lost my father at a young age and understand that sharing your thoughts, feelings, and memories regarding your past can be such a daunting topic and indeed leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable in a way that you might not have anticipated.

You finished your submission by asking how to stop feeling so vulnerable about it, but if I might revise this, a better way to approach it would be how to become comfortable with being vulnerable.

The willingness to let down our guards and expose our innermost selves allows for genuine intimacy to blossom. It is more than natural to feel apprehensive about revealing such intimate details, especially with your history regarding love and loss. Equally, finding the courage to do so opens up an opportunity for deeper understanding and connection.

So might I suggest that you consider reframing your perspective on vulnerability. Instead of viewing it as a weakness, try to begin recognizing it as a strength — you’ve been through a great deal, and in the same way you wish to know everything about her, demonstrate your own willingness to be authentic and transparent with someone you really care about. Inviting her into your world and sharing your experiences, including the loss of your father, can be a profound way of inviting her into your world and allowing her to understand you on a deeper level.

That being said, it’s essential to approach this at your own pace. You by no means need to divulge everything all at once. You can start small by sharing bits and pieces and gradually allow yourself to become more vulnerable as trust and intimacy deepen between you.

I’m sure our situations are vastly different, but I too struggled to open up about my father. I began sharing snippets of memories, foods he enjoyed, quirks and traits I inherited from him. Although a slow drip feed of memories I held very dear, consistency gave me the confidence to let loved ones in to comfort and support me, and I truly believe this will have the same effect for you.

You’ve likely built tall walls around your heart as a result of feeling abandoned and alone at a young age. However, by stepping outside of your comfort zone and beginning to open up, you’ll discover that these walls can be dismembered, brick by brick, by sharing your own personal fragments and memories.

In time, I am sure that you’ll also realize that you no longer want to hide, but can appreciate how the vulnerability you once feared paves the foundations for a profound and enduring connection.

Sending courage your way,

Evie

Do you have a question for Evie? If you would like advice from Evie, fill out the form here or send your problem to askevie@ideapod.com.

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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