Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Challenge of Being Vulnerable

Today is Friday, February 21, 2014.

I finally discovered that my greatest fear is not being alone; it's being vulnerable.

Does this hit home?  It sure does, for me.  I've been "alone" (not in a relationship) for over 30 years, now, and it's not that bad at all.  I've occasionally been a bit bored at times when I wanted some company, and inconvenienced when I needed some help with this or that.  But vulnerable?  No, I was never really vulnerable, because I didn't have to show anyone all my faults.  

There was no one at home to notice that I was in a bad mood, and no one to care whether I kept my place clean or not.  There was nobody to notice how late I got up on weekends, or wonder why I was moping around on a Friday night.  Nobody complained if I picked my nose or farted.  There was nobody to argue that I hung the toilet paper the wrong way, and nobody to correct the way I squeezed the toothpaste tube.

For years, there has been no one at home to tell me how wrongheaded my political views were, and no one to criticize the way I dressed.  Nobody told me I spent too much money or wasted too much time fooling around on Facebook.   Nobody said anything negative about my cooking.  Nobody complained that I spent too much time in the bathroom, or that I wasted too much water taking showers.

Nobody told me how inept I was at making or sticking to a budget.  No one criticized my taste in home decorating or called into question my career choices.  I was never hassled about forgetting a birthday or turning the music up too loud.  Nobody hounded me about how much weight I gained over the years or how I wore my hair. 

In short, I rejected the possibility of finding fulfillment in love because of the possibility of being rejected.  In so doing, I gave up the chance to co-create my life with another human being, to be loved, cherished, encouraged, and augmented by someone special.  I passed on the opportunity to grow spiritually by making and keeping a commitment to a significant other.  

I am reminded of the lyrics to an old Barry Manilow song.  You remind me I live in a shell, safe from the past and doing okay, but not very well.  No jolts, no surprises, no crisis arises.  My life goes along as it should.  It's all very nice, but not very good.

It would be easy to go on living the way I have for decades, because I've built up a fair amount of inertia by now.  I haven't had to share space with anyone or modify my behavior for anyone for a long, long time.  I sometimes wonder whether I'm up to the challenge, whether it's even worth the effort to try to find a mate this late in life.  Is it even possible for me to find someone who's willing to overlook my many faults in favor of spending time in my company?

Am I so ingrained in my way of life that I can't make any more changes?  Am I really willing to throw away a chance to do something challenging, but ultimately rewarding just because I may fail?  Can I love someone just as he is in exchange for the possibility of being loved just as I am?  Can I make myself vulnerable one more time, recognizing that my significant other will also be making himself vulnerable to me?  

That's my challenge.  I can do this. :-)

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