True emotional vulnerability is impossible to manage, even more impossible to last. We persist in speaking of the levels to our vulnerabilities, never disclosing one-hundred percent, as it would ruin so much. If I unveiled to the world every thought in my head at every point in time, firstly not many people would care, but secondly it would damage the privacy and independence of my thoughts from my identity as a person. I don’t think of my identity as a collection of my most taboo thoughts; I look at important decisions, memorable experiences, and repeated behaviors, among other things, to define myself. If we only contended with our regrets and shortcomings, we would never be able to move forward with ourselves.
But vulnerability, when managed in a way that respects each other’s privacy and emotional wellbeing, can lead to wonderful, trusting relationships. Exposing an emotional weakness, displaying oneself as fallible and sometimes irrational, revealing a long-hidden but still-haunting guilt or frustration from the past: these are the bedrock that form a lasting honesty between people. When two people have equally shared their sorrows, they inch closer together as companions. Our humanity is what makes us human, after all; it deserves to be celebrated from time to time. When a person reveals a crystalized memory to another, and the recipient understands, sympathizes, and shares in turn, that’s humanity.
In a way, discussing my emotional sore spots has become for me a necessity before developing long-term friendships. It makes the process a nightmare of rediscovering all my past haunts, and with no guaranteed success. It’s just that I require a basic level of humanity before committing myself to another friendship with another person. I cannot trust a friend too much until they’ve seen an adequate number of my regrets, otherwise I fear they will return at a later point, mightier than before, and willing to crush a promising relationship in half. I never know how new friends will react when the parts of my personality that I’ve kept long hidden return and wreak destruction. I never know what they will say to me, or if they’d rather say nothing and walk away. I never know what to do when that inevitably happens again. I thank myself for the distance between my most harrowing guilts and my current mental state, but you never know when an internal demon will decide to reignite its ancient flame.
Similarly, I’ve talked in other blog posts about empathy and human connections, how an artificial or forced socialization could never work for me. This is partly why; in being emotionally vulnerable with others, I have strengthened core relationships while dooming myself to a struggle before finding others like them. This is the eternal struggle of the introvert.