The gift of vulnerability


All of us women, at some point, complain about our men –surprise, surprise! – How insensitive they are, how they never listen, how they don’t communicate well, how they have trouble with intimacy and difficulty being vulnerable.

“They really are the problem sex!” is our age old mantra.

Somehow, WE feel WE have it all figured out when it comes to relationships.

Well, maybe I should stick to “I” instead of “WE” for the time being! After all, these are some pretty heavy accusations I am making, and I don’t know if all women will appreciate being dragged into the pit of damnation with me!

Often, I am so convinced that my way – the feminine way – is both superior and the right way – that if my man is not doing “it” (whatever “it’ might be) the way that I want him to do it, then I often discard his efforts. This seems harsh and it is – and it had to be pointed out to me by a very wise female relationship therapist called Dr. Pat Allen.

Dr. Pat talks about how men face rejection all the time. “Men traditionally initiate with women, asking them out, and women generally are the ones who get to reject or accept mens’ advances – it is a very vulnerable place to be in – to be in the position of being rejected – over and over again.”

“Okay, that’s true. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I can see how that could take a toll – the threat of rejection looming over every overture.”

And yet they persevere, nonetheless – I guess because us women are so irresistible (just joking!) – or that men are willing to risk rejection as long as it means that there is a slim chance that they could get laid! (more likely!)

Then I had a thought- what if men felt vulnerable all the time? What if they were accustomed to feeling that way and equally habituated to disguising it?

This is my theory = Look at their anatomy – they are anatomically very vulnerable. Their genitals hang out – In fact, what could be more vulnerable? Their entire means of survival – their crown jewels – are completely exposed! Not to mention the survival of the human race! They are intrinsically biologically vulnerable in a way that we may never feel. We may be physically and emotionally vulnerable in a different way – but the flavor – the quality – is different. I don’t know if this is making any sense to any of you!

And, on top of that, a primal man could never admit that he was vulnerable – that could mean death in a primitive culture – so he would have to cloak and masquerade and posture as strong, as invincible – otherwise his whole tribe could be compromised, overrun, wiped out. Suddenly, I was looking at men through a different lens.

Perhaps men learned a covert, subtle way to communicate their vulnerability. So that others wouldn’t perceive or recognize it as such. Or at least, just not me!

The more I observed through this new filter, the more ways I uncovered how my man was communicating his vulnerability all the time, only it was so subtle, so clandestine, that I didn’t even notice what he was doing, until it was pointed out to me – by this insightful sister.

I asked Dr. Pat,  “what about married men?– they don’t have to deal with rejection all the time.” She laughed out loud, “How many times do you reject your husband’s sexual advances?”

“Oh!!!” It finally dawned on me. The old cliché – honey, I’ve got a headache. At least, I wasn’t the only culprit! She was right, again. Then she asked, “How many times do men say no to sex?”
“Never!” That was a funny thought. “We just take it for granted that they won’t reject us”

“Exactly!” she smiled knowingly, “ We don’t know what it feels like to be rejected all the time. We really are in the driver’s seat.”

Suddenly, I saw my whole pattern so clearly. I was embarrassed and relieved at the same time. I like having my blind spots exposed – even if it doesn’t feel fantastic in the moment! But how could I have been so blind? It all seemed so obvious now! – That was the embarrassing part!

I thought about how many times a day my man would come up to me and attempt to be affectionate, and how I would systematically brush him off. Eeek! It always seemed that he wanted my attention at the most inconvenient times. I decided to look at what the word inconvenient meant to me – and I discovered that it meant that I felt a sense of loss of equilibrium – I felt sidetracked, derailed – in essence, I felt that I had lost control – Now I was on to something – and when I lose control, I feel – yes, say it – vulnerable. That word again! It hurts to admit that maybe I am more uncomfortable feeling vulnerable than a man! It didn’t feel so good being vulnerable on someone else’s terms, on his terms. Why was that? Was I that much of a control freak? Maybe…

When I looked at my behavior, I was shocked to see how many times a day I rejected him. I was missing out on so many opportunities to connect with him.

I am working diligently to change my behavior – I’ll admit, this habit is so deeply ingrained, it is still hard for me to stop what I’m doing, and to respond to him without feeling irritated when he’s interrupting me.

Now, when he grabs me to give me a big hug while I’m madly juggling bubbling saucepans at the stove, I take a deep breath, resist the urge to push him away and screech, “NOT NOW!! Can’t you see I’m BUSY?!!” Instead, I stop what I’m doing, connect with him, to fully receive his gesture of affection.

The moment I started to surrender to his overtures 100%, even if it was for a brief moment, I felt this influx of love. I realized that I was less drained at the end of the day and that I felt more connected to him. It seems like a little thing, but it made a big difference.

I think that I also had a fear that interruptions would impede me from getting everything done, but the truth is, I can accomplish so much more when I allow myself to be fed by his love, on his terms, not just on mine.

It is time for me to learn some lessons about vulnerability from the master in disguise- my man!


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11 thoughts on “The gift of vulnerability

  1. Catherine- I love you and adore your vulnerability. You have helped me to look deeper into myself and discover the strength in my vulnerability. Thank you for blogging/tweeting… You are beyond the exceptional. I love how you self examine so well.
    Loving You Always!

  2. Hey Dahlin
    Its the Dragon Queen,

    wow this blurb really hit home, I of all people know how hard it can be to connect with your partner, (i hope you dont think less of me now when i reveal myself) I came out last year as Bi- sexual and I introduced my mom, and family to my girlfriend Zoe who is transgendered, she was born a man and has now transitioned into a woman, I constantly have to remind myself that there are 2 people in this realtionship, and that i needed to stop being so aloof, “i’m busy at the moment with work zoe can you call me later, please dont come to my work cos i cant afford the hassell cos i am in super over drive, when all she really wants to do is just tell me she loves me, and make sure i didnt drink the coffee.

    What i am trying to say is, yes its hard for everyone we dont mean to be this way but we need to be shown or told our behavior, i had a lot to learn from this realtionship which i am still learning, as i am sure you are so hang in there kiddo cos you are not alone.

    Love you muchie
    The Dragon Queen
    Harlie Q xxoo

    1. Hi Dragon Queen, thanks so much for sharing your story so candidly with me. I would never think less of someone for revealing the truth about themselves – especially as my blogs tend to be revealing! In a way, i am really encouraging others to feel comfortable revealing stuff about themselves. One of my favorite quotes is “What other people think of me is none of my business!” I am so glad that my blog is relevant to you!

  3. Dahlin,

    love the quote going to put it as my status on facebook.

    i do love your blog as you love mine, i try to post everyday if i can while i am being super naughty at work.

    i am working on being cool with things but its kinda hard sometime when people stare at us kinda cray cray at wally world when we buy things for our kids, which is strange to me cos have you seen the people who go to wally world.

    i would just love to sit and have lemmonade with you, but jurrasic park is on and the kiddies are going nuts.


  4. Hi Catherine, thank you for sharing your life with us. I love reading your blogs and I can’t wait for the next one 🙂
    Lots of love from Johannesburg, South Africa

  5. Hey, Catherine,

    Perhaps you should be dubbed the “Mistress of Metaphors.”

    Your use of “crown jewels” in the above serious analysis is royal in every sense of the word, and it still has me chuckling, even as I write this post!

    Always your fan Tom

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