When I was old enough to start dating, my dad stopped me in passing once to say:
“Guard your heart, honey.”
Great advice, dad. Thank you.
Unfortunately, his words spontaneously combusted 30 seconds later. The ashes are still simmering. No kidding. I even made s’mores once. I felt his conviction when he said it, I just never understood what he really meant. How could I, really?
“Guard your heart above ALL else for it determines the course of your Life.”
beautiful when Broken
There’s something I want to tell my Dad: I don’t think it worked. I am broken. But I’m okay with that. Are you okay with that?
Do you think you will only be happy when you are NO longer BROKEN? I disagree. I think you’re beautiful just the way you are. It doesn’t mean that you don’t strive to be WHOLE, but it’s the journey that takes you there, making it less about the proverbial “arrival.”
Here is my list of reasons WHY:
> brokenness keeps you humble
> it gives you the ability to have empathy for others
> it makes life feel more REAL (what I call the “pinch me” factor)
Now, just because I’m broken, that doesn’t mean I’m moping around assembling stale-colored pictures with my crumbles. I am getting in touch with my humanity and brave enough to look at it. Where do I get my courage from? What are my options, really? Unless I am content to move backwards, this is my only choice. And…although “backwards” may hide under the premise of PEACE, it is some phony ass peace. No thanks.
vulnerability engages Risk
I’ve spent time staring at Vulnerability. Just me and the big V. In the mirror. Eye to eye. Sometimes we bite. Sometimes we fiddle silently. Poke. Ouch.
Yesterday my poetry blog was suddenly accused of Ghastly Rule Breaking and it was immediately and irrevocably removed by WordPress. Poof. No access. Nothing. Guilty until proven innocent, I guess. They accused me of using it for things that I wasn’t using it for. How did it happen? Well, I copied the wrong photo, and it must have had the Devil himself attached to it. So now everything is gone. Vulnerability doesn’t feel good, my friends. But I have no regrets. I needed to pour out my most creative and intimate words there, whether they were ever read or not. Whether the words are ever restored or not.
I used to be convinced that Vulnerability was evil, but I couldn’t help myself. It doesn’t matter what I lose. And now I’m just sounding reckless. Or am I?
Your vulnerability makes you beautiful because it is your most authentic you. No strings attached. Are you willing to go there? I’m not telling you to throw everything away, I’m just telling you that if you put yourself out there, you will always see beauty in the mirror. Don’t stop fighting for your Vulnerability. It is not a shameful thing. Approach it with caution and be proud of who you are.
Yes, it’s uncomfortable. I don’t want to have needs, most certainly not needs that are not fulfilled. I ponder my options. Today, I look into my mirror, and this is what I see…
Does happiness exist without Vulnerability?
When I wrote my last post
, I was looking for answers. As an artist, I am drawn towards those who deeply share the artistic experience of expression. I didn’t understand how I could be “connected” in my marriage without having my Vulnerability cuddled (insert thumb-sucking sounds). After I cringed and clicked submit, I received so much thoughtful insight that I have been sitting on it for almost two weeks. It has helped me to confirm that I have to do ART for me
AND…I have to find the courage to risk sharing my Art, no matter what the cost. This may create vulnerability but it also creates growth.
Here are some of the deep comments I received and my response to them:
[Your husband] may not say [what you need to hear] with accompanying passion, but his heart is in the saying of it. Unfortunately, he is not speaking your love language, but his. Worse, he may not even be familiar or comfortable with the vocabulary of your love language.
Yes. This is so true. I have tried, but I cannot change him.
I can only change me. In the past, I thought if I used his love language, he would reciprocate in my language. Although this made him happy and content, the effort has not magically been reciprocated in my language. Now it is my job to communicate this. And I don’t want to right now. (More thumb sucking).
[Your husband] may simply be one of those people who cannot speak deeply extemporaneously.
I am that way. If it is a topic I have spoken on before or thought a lot about, I can usually speak then and there with some confidence. If not, I will withhold until I have had time to form a response I feel is cogent. That doesn’t always work well for the small child in the someone who is anxiously awaiting to hear recognition. Worse, you may neglect to respond or do so in an untimely fashion, as in “I’ve always been proud of you and what you do.” A present tense need finds disappointing solace in past tense recognition. A starving child appreciates finally being fed, but the gnawing pain of past chronic hunger and malnutrition leaves its mark.
[You said] “if I move without his *adoration* then I become vulnerable to the praises of others. Others who get it. Who take time to understand and feel. Who know what I cannot say. Who read between the lines. Who soak in the words.”
I agree with your assessment here. My husband may be formulating thoughts, but they die deeply within the depths of his mind. He doesn’t just withhold until later, he withholds indefinitely. It makes it difficult to go first.
He does tell me he loves me everyday, which is nice. But for some reason, that has never been good enough.
First, you are doing your art for you. It is a “release.” It is understandable that you would want him to acknowledge your gift and even praise you for it. But, in the end, you must and will do it for you.
Yes, I can and will do my Art for me. I need the release. The art-child has been born. But even still, it is not fed until it is shared.
Doing art for me is not enough. I lived “for me” before and look how far it got me. I can’t just sit on my Thesaurus and lay eggs. Vulnerability is one thing. Stupidity is another. Now that I understand WHY I was vulnerable to the affair, I am now responsible for CHANGE so that I can “guard my heart” from a repeat in
thumb sucking stupidity.
It is possible that recognition is part of your love language…When others speak your language to you, could it be you feel loved, not just praised. Because you need that praise from your husband about your art to feel loved, when you do receive it from others, you read it not only as praise and encouragement, but the love that is missing in his recognition.
I am not saying he doesn’t love you. What I am saying is his love for you is inadequately expressed to you.
Yes. My-eyes-are-welling-up, yes.
Perhaps you are projecting onto others what you desire from [your husband].
Yes. Yes, of course I am.
Suddenly now it’s not even about my art. The best thing anyone could say to me is, “I’m going to think about that.” My husband’s brain is too full to hold the complicated mess that is ME.
The fact is that sharing my craft magnifies holes in my heart that gape from unintentional neglect. Holes that, until now, I have grown accustomed to throwing carpet overtop of. Nobody wants “demanded attention.” As an introvert, I would NEVER want to stand out because I “said” something amazing. I want to stand out because I did something amazing. Or perhaps just because I am amazing. If I’m going to be noticed, I prefer to be cherished, understood, seen, appreciated and valued. I want to be confident that I am able to influence someone else’s life with my own.
Impossible? I want to have that with my husband.
You want and need that missing part. When someone offers that part to you in the form of praise and recognition for your creative work, you feel loved and that feeling creates turbulence and confusion in your soul.
Yes. That’s exactly it.
People may love your work as it stands on its own, but they do not know you well enough to say they love you. It is understandable that you would bask in the warmth of the love shown for your work. But, you have to be careful about misappropriating that love directly to you as much as you may want and need it to fill the missing puzzle piece in your husband’s expression of love to you.
It is even more enticing and intoxicating when those displaced love feelings create an actual physical rush and that heart flutter we associate with “love.” Those physical manifestations further reinforce the feeling we are “loved” by the complimentor, especially if we are feeling “unloved” by the one that matters to us. Do you feel “loved” by the complimentor when equivalent praise and comments come from a female, or simply understood and appreciated by them in a way your husband doesn’t? There you have it. If you feel loved by the women, it is all about your work. If you feel especially loved by the men who compliment, it is about what is missing with your husband. The love should feel equal, no matter the source. What you should feel is appreciated and understood by others who are not your husband, not “loved” by people who are unqualified to love you.
Holy crap. You’re right. It doesn’t mean the same when it is from a woman (sorry women, you know I love your comments. Excuse me while I
insert my thumb bear my soul here.)
Now my cheeks are wet. I am so ashamed. I needed to hear this. To know and understand the difference. It is so pivotal in the direction I need to go.
When they appreciate your creativity, it is an intimate appreciation by its very nature. They look upon your offering and read into it what they see, whether image or word. When they “get it” right, you feel recognized and acknowledged. When they see or read even more into the creative work than you thought you put out there (Who know what I cannot say. Who read between the lines.) you feel not only understood and “seen”, but deeply so.
That kind of intimacy is what you desire with your husband about your work. Even if he meets that intimacy need in all other areas, if he does not meet it in the creative realm, your relationship feels lacking. Because creativity and ART is so integral to your being;
“Yet, I. am. Art.
I am uninhibited, inspired creativity when at my best.”
You need that recognition from him. When it is supplied by others, the intimacy shared with them encroaches on your intimacy with him.
Yes. It’s true. But how can I have what he cannot give? It seems so demanding to require this of him when he has already given me so much.
As bang on appropriate as these words are…he has never and will never (?) meet this need. To expect him to is to want him to be entirely a different person. And I didn’t marry him because he was the same as me, I married him because he was completely different.
Therein lays the vulnerability felt. Keep foremost in your mind that you are receiving intimate recognition from those you feel “get” it, and understand the art (read YOU). It is love for your work though not necessarily “love” for you. They may care about you, even deeply so, but it is not the same as the love you share with your husband. In the intimacy shared with them lies the danger. Keep the intimacy in perspective and you should be fine.
I need encouragement to live, but encouragement is not love. Ding ding ding dammit.
In the meantime, write, not speak, to your husband about how your art fills a special place in your world and makes you a more complete person in your relationship with him. Write praise poems about him, the two of you, and your relationship; not letters, but POEMS. Do not make them too cryptic or esoteric initially. Like most of us, if he likes being, recognized, seen, understood, felt, got, ADORED, PRAISED (get the not-so-subtle point) he will enjoy reading the poems. The more he enjoys poems about himself, the more he may be able to appreciate your poems about other things. Try not to place him in an uncomfortable position by asking the open-ended “Well, what did you think?” A simple request like “Did you like it?” may be easier for him to deal with initially. Be prepared though for the unsatisfying “Yeah.” You could then follow-up with “The part I enjoyed writing the most was….” He may open up with a response about
that…..or not. It’s a process.
Good advice. I can take ownership of this. It’s helpful to feel like I can maybe do something about it.
“Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”
UPDATE: My poetry blog has been restored! Yay!
Image Credit for the Armored Heart.
Image Credit for walking on water.
Image Credit for the Flowered Mouth.
Image Credit for the Fragile Heart.