If we are to love others, we must learn to deal with our own vulnerability. It is simply not possible to love without being vulnerable. It doesn’t matter if our love object is a pet, a partner, a child, or a friend. All loving relationships create vulnerability, because all relationships end. We can’t predict the way the relationship will end, it could be through departure of the loved one by choice or by death. The simple truth is all relationships ultimately are only temporary, because life is about change.
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth.” – William W. Purkey
The only way I know of to be able to truly love in an open-hearted manner, is to be strong enough to face loss and vulnerability. A friend of mine told me that when she found herself falling in love for the second time, she sobbed tears of sadness. She had loved deeply and had enjoyed a long term relationship with her love. They had married and raised a family together. He had left her not by choice, but through an untimely death. Her grief was long and difficult. She vowed she would never open her heart to this type of love again. And when she found herself in love once again, many years later, it was a bittersweet discovery. She knew that loving again meant being vulnerable again.
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.” – Neil Gaiman
So, how do we deal with the vulnerability that love creates? Many people deal with it by being controlling in their loving relationships. This isn’t really dealing with vulnerability, it is more like avoiding dealing with vulnerability. This creates the illusion that we can avoid being hurt by controlling those we love. It doesn’t work. It either drives the ones we love away, or it causes them to feel the need to be dishonest with us. Instead of loving we end up resenting and manipulating. The only way I know of to deal with vulnerability is to accept it, acknowledge that loving someone may produce the pain of loss, and love anyway. In order to do this successfully, we must trust our ability to feel the pain of loss and go on living. We must know that we have the resources and inner strength to navigate the end of a relationship in order to enjoy the beginning and middle.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu