The Vulnerability of Sharing- “I didn’t know that”

The Vulnerability of Sharing- “I didn’t know that”

As I sit in my office and listen to couples as they share with one another, I keep hearing the same statement after someone has shared something really vulnerable- “I didn’t know that”. It’s amazing the things that we think our partner knows about us, even a friend, that we have never shared. We assume that they already know (they’ve heard me say it a thousand times, you knew that), or based on our own view of self- we assume that they hold a certain perception of us (I’m not important, I’m not worthy, I’m unlovable), or based on our view of them- we feel that they will respond a certain way (“I don’t want to talk about this”, “this isn’t a big deal”, “why are we talking about this?”). It’s so powerful to see people discussing something they didn’t know the other felt for the first time: the curiosity, the empathy, their ability to really listen and hear the message.

I’m going to give you a personal example because I think it makes me realize how easy it is to fall into this trap and how it ends up holding us in a place that we may have created for ourselves. It also lets you know that just because we are therapists, doesn’t mean that we are perfect. I’m going to let you see that I too am human and that constantly working on myself, as my clients do, helps me to see things more clearly.

I recently went to visit a close friend, someone I had known since I was in college, someone I had dated for many years when we were in college, someone I really thought I knew and who knew me, someone I thought at one point in time that I would marry. As we navigate our friendship after having dated, there have been things that have always been difficult to bring up, but we have been getting better at it and on this last visit I really felt like we made a breakthrough and did quite a bit of sharing. On this trip I learned that he thought I was confident back in college (ha- maybe that is how I expressed myself outwardly but inside I was an insecure, scared little girl). As I listened to our beliefs about what we knew about one another, I realized that as much as we thought we knew one another- we really weren’t sharing some of the deepest parts of ourselves.

I went home, processed it all for a few days and decided to call him and share something really vulnerable with him. Something I had shared on the surface but never went into how it impacted me deeply and was something I was still holding onto. When we dated, I had always felt like his family and friends were not very welcoming to me and it made me feel like they didn’t think that I was good enough for him. He had never really stood up for me and when we didn’t get married, I then told myself that he didn’t think I was good enough either. This is so important- I didn’t ask him if he thought I was good enough, or why he wasn’t ready to get married (in our early 20’s:); I just assumed it was the reasons I had placed on it.

Here we are 20 years later, talking about how much it hurt for him not to fight for me, what it all meant, the messages I told myself- really having a conversation about it and hearing one another instead of just going with our assumptions. I was hearing how he didn’t feel comfortable challenging his friends or family, didn’t know that I was hurting, didn’t know that I felt like he wasn’t choosing me or didn’t feel that I wasn’t good enough. There was no intention to make me feel that way, he didn’t want me to feel that way, and he didn’t feel like I wasn’t good enough (we were just young and not ready for something that big). After having this conversation, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off of me, I suddenly felt even more comfortable sharing with him, it felt safe. There’s part of me that wants to be happy that we are in this great place where we can be so open with one another and there’s this other part of me that is sad that it took us this long. I had lived in that hurt, carrying so much pain for 20 years.

So why did I wait, what made it so hard to share that part of me? There are so many things that can get in the way: our fear about the response, rejection, our view of self or view of the other, assumptions, our own perception of the situation. I was afraid, afraid that he would tell me I wasn’t good enough to marry, that I wasn’t worth fighting for, not hear my hurt- not listen or be willing to listen. These are the stories we tell ourselves, that keep us from sharing our truth, and sometime they are easier to tell ourselves than the possibility of what the response could be- it’s scary!

I challenge you to start sharing your truth, to let others know who you are, what you are thinking, your hurts- take that risk. Think of all the powerful conversations that could have been had, all the times this person could have sat with you in your pain (and you for them), the connection you can form with those that you do this with.

Warning: This isn’t something to do with someone you just met, you need to feel safe, secure, and trust this person or be working on this. Yes, be authentic, be you when meeting new people, but this sharing is for those that you have known and want to deepen that bond with, those that know you and it feels safe to share with. And if sharing is hard, maybe start with talking about how sharing can be hard and see how that goes before going into topics that are more vulnerable. We all jump in where we are ready.

Good luck taking the leap and know that there is support if you need help.

Amanda@lifeinbalancestl.com
314-472-8180
www.lifeinbalancestl.com

One thought on “The Vulnerability of Sharing- “I didn’t know that””

  1. Leah Griffin says:

    Thank you for sharing this side of yourself. Often as a counselor it’s difficult to share how we learn through our own personal experiences, because it’s ingrained in us to not over share. I really appreciate this insight.

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8780 big bend blvd. suite B
Webster Groves, MO 63119

amanda@lifeinbalancestl.com
(314) 472-8180

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