by Robyn Jones – B.Sc. (Psych), NSW, Australia
Vulnerability is not a common word used to describe men, is it? I wonder why this is, because we have all witnessed at one time or another the moment a man drops all the armour, hardness, striving, and pushing through life to allow themselves to simply be vulnerable, showing their soft underbelly, melting everyone in their wake.
It happens when a man becomes a father and holds their newborn for the first time, tears delicately rolling slowly and gracefully down their face as they stare into the eyes of their child. It happens when a man opens himself up to possible rejection when asking someone on a date. I have seen it when men are sick and physically have to stop to recoup.
I have also experienced it in a very subtle and not so obvious way. For example today I have been sick, my nose has been running, I have had a headache most of the day, and I spent the morning on the lounge and the afternoon in bed, which is not my usual style. My husband offered to run me a bath. He set up candles, incense, and put Epsom salts in the water. He prepared my pyjamas, made sure I had my towel, and put an extra towel out for me to rest my head on. There was a beautiful vulnerability to the whole process, him dropping all the usual ways of being, getting things done, and any expectations he may usually have of me. It felt so lovely… He felt so lovely as he was attending to every detail.
I love it when men are like this because it gives me permission to become equally vulnerable and unprotected. I can drop my armour and hardness, and melt into being taken care of.
But this hasn’t always been the case…
When my husband and I first started going out he wanted to take me to nice restaurants, cook me dinner, and share his vulnerable and caring nature with me. However, I couldn’t let him do this. I had become so hard and protected it made me feel super uncomfortable, as I did not feel I was worth it. Most of the time I would end up in a panic attack just from the thought of it.
This obviously had an effect on my husband as I was rejecting his vulnerability and offer of care, so he stopped, and I could breathe once again as I was not made super uncomfortable by it any more.
What a sad state of affairs though! A man willing to share his soft underbelly and a woman who couldn’t accept it.
I am pleased to say that over the years I have let go of an immense amount of hardness and protection, and am now showing my vulnerability little bit by little bit. So tonight when my husband did all that he did for me with the level of vulnerability and care that he did it in, I wholeheartedly accepted it. I said a big fat YES. And as I say more yeses to my own vulnerability I am able to say more yeses to his. This is allowing us both to drop back into our natural state of being, connecting with each other more deeply, and supporting us to let go of the hurts from our past – the rejection, need to control, and keeping each other at a distance (even if it didn’t look like this on the surface).
This makes me wonder about the healing power both men and women have with each other, because both genders have the natural capacity for vulnerability.
Imagine if we all lived this more often, would the world be a different place? Would there be the disconnection that is so prevalent nowadays, where most of us don’t even know our neighbours, or even our own children, let alone ourselves? Would there be such a high suicide rate for men?
A man who wears his vulnerability openly and honestly is super sexy and someone I want to hang out with, because this is what a real man is. This is what makes me melt and turn to goo, and I am sure I’m not alone in this.
Published with the permission of my husband