Sitting here, enjoying the soft autumn sunlight and the quietness of Monday morning, I find myself finally able to sit down and collect my thoughts and interactions from the last week. Much the same way I pick up the forgotten lukewarm mug of tea on my counter, and swirl it as I look down into its content, I find myself trying to look into all of these experiences, stirring them and trying to figure out this feeling is I have in my chest.
It is not something that I intentionally cherished growing up.
In a home where chaos and volatility saturated the air like an overly powerful oil diffuser, I learned to hold my breath in, tight to my chest. The best method of living there was more closely akin to survival, getting through the days, months, and years by existing as much outside of it physically or emotionally as possible. Breathing in would only cause your chest to burn and your eyes to water, and that made it much harder to get to safety.
When I put 8 hours of distance between myself and that house, those experiences, it became much easier to breathe. But the habit had been formed, and much the same way my body found it impossible to exhale under the storm of a panic attack, I found myself still wanting to hold that breath tight inside me emotionally as well. Inhale. Inhale. Inhale. The inclination to hold things in while I curled around them.
Do you recall elementary and middle school, when they loved to ask you: Who is your hero? I never had an answer to that question. I always skipped it when possible, or gave a vague response. I hadn’t found my heros yet.
Now, I can think of faces, voices, names. And beyond Brene Brown, they are probably not names you would be familiar with unless you live here in Portland with me. These people, they taught me how to be vulnerable: what it looks like, what it feels like, and its power. Ironically speaking (Or maybe not), a lot of these people practice meditation, and breath work. They are my heros not because of singular actions, but because of the way they live with intention.
I am grateful that I can sit here now, sleepy with the travels from my weekend, and find myself exhaling vulnerability. Recently, I have spent a lot of time having one on one conversations, able to bring my experiences to the table along with my compassion. I am grateful because many of these recent conversations have been with women, and historically speaking, those have been the most delicate and powerful connections in my life.
The joy that I am experiencing.. it is quiet, and bubbling, and unique. It is a lasting joy, the kind that you wake up with the next morning and still smile from. I used to think being vulnerable was terrifying, and in some ways, it still is. Not every time you choose to be open and vulnerable is well received. But it is always freeing. It connects me to my inner truth, and allows me to be present.
I am grateful for my vulnerability. I am grateful for my experiences. I am grateful for the strength and the peace that allows me to embrace vulnerability. I am grateful.. to exhale.