Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Vulnerability Armour

When I was in my early teens one of my cousins snitched on me about the foul language I was using at school. My mom told me that ladies didn't use that kind of language. As I wasn't interested in being a lady I didn't change anything other than not hang out with my cousin at school.

Not too long ago I was visiting with someone I don't know well but like a lot, when I noticed foul language coming out of my mouth kind of like spittle I couldn't take back. I've always thought I was drawing that person into my inner circle by letting them see me, foul language and all. I really believed that even though I often felt like I tripped on something when the f bombs started coming out of my mouth.

After tripping several times in my conversation with my friend I let myself ponder what my tripping was trying to tell me. I then had the uncomfortable realization that instead of foul language indicating I was gathering my friend into my inner circle what I was truly doing was putting up a wall.

I instantly thought of shame and vulnerability researcher Brene Brown and what she wrote here:

"Thankfully, I know myself well enough to know that "cool" is one of my favorite pieces of vulnerability armor. " 

And I thought to myself, when those f bombs start coming out of my mouth, with someone I know hardly at all, I am not trying to bring them into my inner circle, I am trying to keep them at a distance. I am scared and I want to appear to be cool. I do not want to be vulnerable.

I am still a little stunned by that realization.

I haven't felt the need to drop an f bomb in a casual conversation with a casual friend since.

**I believe there truly are instances where a swear word or phrase becomes a kind of prayer. I experienced that a month ago after unexpectedly losing two friends in two days.  What I really meant, what was underneath my words, was the thought that I couldn't believe this was happening. In times like that those words hang in the air like a prayer, like a cry for Someone beyond ourselves.


Chuck Sigars said...

Understanding my vulnerability armor in terms of the language I use is always my first insight into what's going on in the relationship, regardless of how casual. That said, George Carlin did a routine when he pointed out that the F-bomb is how we end conversations, so. I consider this.

Beth said...

This was so insightful and very powerful for me. Thanks for sharing your truth.

Heidi Renee said...

we've been talking a lot about swearing at our house lately as my kids have followed my lame-o example... and it drives the huz a bit batty... this adds another dimension to the conversation, especially one i need to think about. thanks. psfd.