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March 31, 2015

We Can Hide, or We Can Heal

Hal photo outside Feb2012“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability…. To be alive is to be vulnerable.”(Madeleine L’Engle)

Somewhere, somehow, we men were taught that vulnerability automatically means weakness. Perhaps we got it from war movies, where opponents search for each other’s “vulnerabilities.” Or maybe it was from sports, where commentators remarked about a teams’ weakness and called it “where they are most vulnerable.” Such uses of the term are not necessarily wrong. But when we combine it with guy talk, which chastises anything weak, and the last thing we want to be is “vulnerable.”
Of course, shielding yourself from opponents also shields yourself from friends. From family. From lovers. No one can hurt me if I never expose myself. No one can touch me, either, though.
What the world longs to see, what we have always found most attractive, is that rare combination of vulnerability and strength. Someone bold enough to put himself out there, open to risk and ridicule. This is the entrepreneur with a crazy idea. This is one man asking another to hold him accountable about his drinking. This is the husband, upon entering the house from a long commute home, calmly shunning his small kids for a minute so he can walk straight up to his wife, gently put her face in his hands, and then announce, “I’ve been thinking about this moment all day.” Then he proceeds to kiss her for a full ten seconds.
We can hide, or we can heal, gentlemen. What’ll it be?

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