I have to admit something: I struggle with being vulnerable. There are a long list of reasons why, but most of them boil down to my father abandoning me when I was young. I never truly acknowledged how much that affected me until around when I opened Suan Sati. Around that time, I decided to get serious about my meditation practice and personal growth. A big part of that was working to figure out where I was stuck and why. Of course the root cause was the obvious reason, I had just been in denial for decades.
My willingness to be vulnerable had been smothered by the fear of rejection. What if people don’t like me? I kept my true self hidden and let other people tell me who I was and what I needed to do to be liked.
When I first moved back to Chiang Mai in fall 2015, I was fortunate to make a lot of friends who held space for and encouraged my desire to be vulnerable. I felt safe to revisit my childhood wounds in order to heal them. It was a gradual process that took a couple of years to fully unpack and move through. During those years, I had plenty of moments when I would forget that I was living in fear, and would either withdraw into myself or lash out at those close to me. Upon reflection, I would see clearly that I was acting out conditioned behavior patterns that I wanted to leave behind. With time and reflection, those patterns loosened their grip on me and I was able to live a life more aligned with what I felt to be the real me.
My gut reaction is still to avoid being vulnerable, but I’m aware of that now and can make a conscious decision to open up. It’s incredibly satisfying to know that those feelings of fear don’t control me anymore after years of hiding behind a facade. My personal relationships are richer, I have less fear of rejection and failure, and I love and accept myself more than ever. For all the discomfort and shame I felt as I worked through during the growth process, it has been one of the most rewarding journeys of my life so far.