Vulnerability is sometimes viewed as weakness, but it’s in fact the opposite. Being vulnerable is scary; doing so anyway takes courage and strength. Getting sober often helps us build these qualities, and this is good, because vulnerability helps recovery.
The Benefits of Vulnerability
The first part of becoming sober—admitting you have a problem, to yourself and others—is itself a vulnerable act. Brene Brown, a research professor who has studied vulnerability for decades, describes it as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” It can feel like all of these things when we admit we are struggling with addiction, but doing so opens us up to a better and fuller life.
Being emotionally open and vulnerable allows us to connect with others in a deeper way, ask for help when we need it, express our feelings so that we can move through them, and so much more. It’s really crucial for an experience of recovery that makes us want to stay sober, because it’s the pathway to so many wonderful things.
As Brene Brown said, “I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.”
How to Be Vulnerable
For those of us who spent many years numbing our feelings in active addiction, how do we pivot to emotional transparency and vulnerability? In my six years sober, I’ve found that a lot of it comes down to practice.
At first it was terrifying to have real, vulnerable conversations without the blunting of substances; it’s not that it’s not ever hard now, but it gets a lot easier. You realize that people are not usually as judgmental as you think. Those that won’t meet you in that same vulnerable place are usually going through their own stuff that has nothing to do with you. Through being vulnerable again and again, good things tend to come, which reinforces the desire to keep facing fears.
It’s okay to take small steps towards vulnerability if it’s new. This could mean asking someone how they feel about something, in a situation that doesn’t feel too high stakes. In recovery, you will grow over time.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build communication skills and a great life in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.