Vulnerability- By Haley Jones Chiarmonte

A friend and I decided that we were going to do a girl’s trip in Cabo San Lucas a few months ago. We planned the trip carefully, talked with enthusiasm almost every day, and counted down until we both met up in Mexico.

When we arrived for our weekend of fun, she looked at me and said, “I’ve missed you so much, but I must warn you, I’m a little bit emotionally unstable right now. I might cry. I’m not okay” I looked at her, hugged her, and then we grabbed two margaritas and went on our way towards the Mexican beaches, music, and sun. My friend had lost her dad just a few weeks prior to our trip and I knew this was a big step for her during her healing process. She had contemplated cancelling the whole thing altogether, but in the end, decided not to waste her ticket and meet me. The time there was so healing and amazing for both of us, I was grateful she had decided to follow through.

It wasn’t until after we’d gotten back from our weekend together that I really started thinking about what she had said to me when we arrived. Being “vulnerable” and being “unstable”. I thought back on the memories of those 4 days and how much we laughed, sang, and danced in the water. I also vividly recognized the moments that we cried, hugged, and wiped each other tears after heartfelt conversations. She allowed herself to be emotionally vulnerable in front of me, unstable, and accept where she was in time, knowing that she wasn’t “okay”. Simply put, it was refreshing.

As the days passed and I started school again, the thought of being vulnerable stayed in my mind. For some odd reason, I couldn’t kick it. I kept telling myself that I felt secure, my family is healthy, and everything was going well ….and then…

Three days ago my dad told me he had cancer.

Surgery is today. In fact, he’s in surgery as I type.

And guess what, I’m vulnerable. I’m unstable. I’m feeling weak. Angry. Scared. My dad? No… not possible. He has lived healthy, he exercises, eats well.

Not my dad.

Yeah. Vulnerability at it’ finest folks.

Since finding out about my dad’s condition, and his surgery to remove the tumor from his thyroid, I have done nothing but think about my friend, who valiantly showed me how to be vulnerable without loosing my mind in the process, just accepting it and being open about it. I believe that through vulnerability, we learn acceptance, we experience joy,  we feel and find purpose.  After all, isn’t that what life is all about? Purpose. Joy. Acceptance.

I’ve come to realize that by nature, human beings try to be “certain” about things in order to avoid being vulnerable. We pretend, we fake, and we over medicate. Then we wonder why we are miserably the most obese, medicated, and addicted nation in the world. Instead of looking at our friends in the face and saying, “I’m not okay, I’m unstable right now”, we say things that portray the opposite. We lie about our state of mind. We seek attention and instant gratification.

Similar to some politicians, religious leaders, and so-called “perfectionists”, we act tough, pretending we know the answers, and then we go home, down four glasses of wine and eat a chocolate muffin to make ourselves feel better. It’s a vicious cycle. One that we’ve all experienced in one way or another.

But, after experiencing this new emotionally charged issue with my dad, I’m so grateful to my friend Ashley, who came up to me in Cabo and openly said “I’m not okay.” She has helped me realize that LIFE IS ABOUT BEING VULNERABLE, so we can experience the joys, surprises, laughter and sorrows that make us human. I sit at my computer today simply saying, I’m not okay. I’m scared and I’m completely unstable. Most importantly, I’m vulnerable. But through this I’m confident that I’m being real, I’m experience life, and I am human. I am praying for you dad.