On Vulnerability

Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.

Bill Withers

This week was one that had to happen. Some things are inevitable, needed, necessary. When things get stagnant, things can fester and grow. Allow too much growth of the wrong things and the environment can become toxic—pettiness, passive aggressiveness, anger, frustration, meanness, all can infiltrate and dominate what were once loving, kind, respectful, valued relationships. It’s a slippery slope that’s easy to slide down when things are off kilter, the world seems upside down, and there’s no where to turn to find a moment to breathe and rest. Pressure from the outside compresses until micro fissures appear that let out unfiltered pain, fear, uncertainty like indiscriminate arrows that harm innocent bystanders. This was my current environment, with several relationships becoming sour and in danger of dissolving. A relief valve was needed before the situation exploded leaving in its wake a crater that could not be repaired. But what?

I wait, sometimes, to analyze a situation, to figure out what might be the best way, taking the time to think through all possible permutations that could happen. Weigh the risk and the outcomes and decide a path forward; then as if I’m setting sail, lick my finger and feel what way the wind is blowing. Through the years I’ve come to trust my gut when the time is THE time to do certain things. Usually I stick to that, but every once in awhile I am prompted to action against my instinct because I trust the judgement of someone else. There aren’t many in my life, but one of the few is a person who makes me more human (at least that’s how I think of it), to connect to others when I live so much in my mind most times. So I took his advice, and acted.

And that was the saving Grace—being human. I don’t cry often unless I am deeply moved, but there were many tears shed by myself and everyone involved as we talked and the dam broke—releasing fear, tension, sorrow, regret, expressing apology, asking forgiveness, but above all love. Cleansing tears that erased all the negativity to reveal those feelings that TRULY mattered—friendship, camaraderie, vision, bonds that make family beyond blood. Sharing strengths, acknowledging weaknesses, complementing each other to lift us all up. As my colleague said to me—you don’t have to always be strong because you’re leading, we are a team, if you turn your ankle, we will carry you until you can walk again. I know your ankle is turned, let us carry you like you carry us (insert more tears by me, humbled).

I left work that day realizing once again that I am blessed with a team who trust one other to keep each other safe when the outside is filled with dangers, known and unknown, through a bond of trust, shared values, respect, and love. Knowing that whatever happens we will not lose what matters most—family.

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