7 Keys to Courageous Self-Expression | Vulnerability (Part 1)
The first in a series, this episode offers an introduction to the 3rd key of courageous self-expression - vulnerability. Candice speaks intimately about her childhood and how a legacy of trauma has informed her path in life. She speaks about the power and privilege of healthy emotional expression. In order to express what is most alive within our hearts, we must feel safe, seen, and held. And unfortunately, there are times when these resources are far beyond our reach. Using personal stories from her own life, she paints a vivid picture of how generational trauma gets passed down through generations; inviting us to soften in our approach so that we might approach vulnerability in ways that are more compassionate and inclusive. She ends the episode with three practices that will help you more easily connect with vulnerability in new and tangible ways. 

0:21 - Pill Bugs (story)
5:48 - Open Wounds (story)
8:24 - The power & privilege of vulnerability
10:53 - Emotional Scarring (story)
17:23 - Forgiveness & generational trauma
22:14 - What is Vulnerability?
28:21 - 3 Arenas of Practice

#8 | All The Feels

Hello, and welcome to The Deeper Pulse with Candice Schutter. This is Episode 8, where we begin our exploration of the third key of courageous self-expression - vulnerability.

When I was two years old, I would often wear my favorite blue and white dress. Every so often, a family friend would ask me "Candi, who is that on your dress?" And I would lift the front up high above my head so I could see it. Flashing them my panties, I would joyfully declare: Cookie Monster!" Onlookers would laugh with delight at my innocence. But as I got older, similar expressions of zeal and transparency would garner mixed reactions. Smiles from some, but many a furrowed brow from others.

My hometown for the first four years of life was Eskridge, Kansas, a minute pinprick in the center of the nation. Eskridge is a tightly woven web of roughly 600 people, most of whom come from families that have lived in Wabaunsee County and its surrounding farmlands for generations.

In those early years of my childhood, Main Street was a two block stretch bustling with life. The drugstore was the nucleus of downtown activity, particularly in the summer months when it offered rare, air conditioned escape from the thick blanket of heat outdoors.

My family and I would spend many an afternoon sidled up to the counter of the old school soda fountain, where teenage part-timers would deliver up heaping scoops of homemade ice cream. My grandmother worked two doors down at Eskridge Cafe where weather faced men and women would sit for hours, eating pie and chatting about record rainfalls and their grandchildren while a waitress poured endless streams of coffee into their cups.

If it sounds like a snapshot from the Andy Griffith show, be assured that in many ways, it was. Our every necessity existed along that single quarter-mile stretch of Main Street: the IGA grocery store, Eskridge Bank, a post office, and Wall Standard gas station where, without fail, Virgil Wall would offer me a wedge of Bazooka Joe bubble gum, every time we pulled in for a fill-up. I'd immediately unwrap it and cram the entire piece into my tiny little mouth. After a few awkward attempts at chewing, I'd end up with a sore jaw and deliciously sugar-soaked chin.

One afternoon while playing outside of my grandparents' house, I was feeling ornery, and so I hopped onto my tricycle and made the two-block trek to the filling station down the street. Virgil refused to give up the goods, and he called my grandma to come and fetch me. She walloped me with a flyswatter on my ass the whole way home. And from that moment on, I would refer to him as Mean ol' Virgil.

For the first three years of my existence, my Grandma Margaret did her best to fill the vacancies left in the life of a single parent. She kept me clean and fed and looked after me while my mother worked and attended night school in Topeka. Grandma's attention was patient and constant; although her affections were a bit harder to come by.

But in truth, as unfair as it may have been, it was my grandfather whose attention I yearned for the most. Each time, he would lift me up with his calloused hands, I felt like an angel rising to meet her maker. I was Grandpa's Girl. It didn't phase me in the least that I shared the title with each of my other female cousins.

In one of my favorite childhood photos, my grandpa sits on the living room sofa with a grandchild perched on each of his knees. My three-month old cousin, Heather, is on his left. She is dainty and darling. In a pale green dress, she stares expectantly at the camera. I am perched at his right. My bulging cheeks rivaled only by my pudgy legs, each ballooning out from my pink and blue onesy. My grandfather gazes toward the camera through horn-rimmed glasses, his eyes somehow conveying a mix of overwhelm and contentment.

Little Me gives the camera no mind, content to be basking in the glow of his attention. I stare only at my tiny fist where I am clasping the stem of a small plant of some sort.

I gravitated towards small mounds of dirt as a child. Touching raw earth was another way for me to breathe. I loved digging beneath the surface, perhaps in search of an innocence I didn't yet know that I'd lost. I'd spend hours on the hunt for roly polies, some call them pill bugs. I was in awe at how, in the blink of an eye, they could roll themselves into a ball; make themselves impervious to touch. Unable to fathom these tiny dirt dwellers in their built-in armor, I would roll them around in my palm, silently pleading for them to open so that I could witness their soft underbellies.

In this episode, we are exploring the third key of courageous self-expression - vulnerability.

Rumi once wrote: "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

I think he is in some way suggesting that we cannot ourselves be known unless we first allow ourselves to be seen. And it is with that in mind, that in this episode, Part 1 of the vulnerability series that I will be sharing more than usual when it comes to my own personal story; offering a very intimate peek into why a healthy level of emotional transparency is so very essential to our mental health and to our ability to self express.

In 2001, on the heels of my move to Colorado, my life was in shambles and a friend encouraged me to seek therapy for the very first time.

My first therapist's name was Jacqueline, and she was quintessential Boulder. The waiting room just outside her office featured crystals and a water feature. The music of Enya filled the room from an unseen source. Jacqueline had platinum blonde hair that hung to her waist. She wore long flowy dresses that featured earthy prints, and her piercing blue eyes were unsettling in their radiance. For me being witnessed by her, it was a bit like staring directly at the sun.

I can't recall if it was during our first or second session, but one day I was rambling on and on about my childhood, focusing mostly on the guilt and anger that I carried around my stepfather and his emotional abuses. I commented on how my mother, despite her best intentions, had made the mistake of staying with him too long and how it had damaged me, her, and us. I spoke at length about how I'd been shaped by their choices. And I felt like I was making a pretty good case for how it had all screwed me up. When I finally finished speaking, she sat for a minute; and then she said to me:

"Candice, I want you to imagine that you have an open wound just there on your arm. Imagine you can see it. You feel the pain, and you know how it got there. Now, once you know, it's there, you have a choice to make. Do you want to continue to identify with this wound? Do you want to point at it and say, 'this is mine, this is me.' Or do you want to begin the process of healing it?"

She was asking me this question in earnest. Something in me rose up; like a light that came on in a room, there was no unseeing the way that I had made 'victim' an identity.

I would only see Jacqueline for four sessions. I wished that it could have been more, but I simply couldn't afford her hourly rate. I would see many other counselors and therapists in the years to come; but on that day, I was forever altered by one question by the reminder that we always have a choice, to become forever wedded to our trauma or to learn how to live with, yet apart from it.

But, well, let's be real. Is it really that simple?

No, I'm afraid it is not. Life is complicated and our suffering is contextual. Dependent not only upon the reality we are living in, but by the impact that our past has made on our very way of engaging with the world. There is no easy fix that will deliver relief when there is a buildup of pain in our bodies, hearts, and minds. When we speak plainly about vulnerability or about moving through trauma, we say to people: "Open up, share yourself with the world, be vulnerable, it will heal you!"

Sure, it sounds easy enough. But what if there's far more to it than that? And what if 'feeling it all' sends you into a full blown panic? What if it is unsafe to share the secrets that are locked inside? And what if the only models of vulnerability that you've ever witnessed look more like tantruming than telling the truth? What then?

I don't have all the answers, but these are just some of the questions we are going to unpack together in this episode and the next.

Before we can go any further, I must speak to the elephant in the room.

It is both a power and a privilege to be vulnerable. It is a power because in many cases it requires agency over one's internal and external environment. A privilege because it is a near impossibility to explore vulnerability when you feel unsafe, unheld, or unsupported.

It is a privilege to have the bandwidth for self-inquiry, therapy, or mindfulness training. To be grounded and stable and free enough to risk exposure and emotional expression. I emphasize this point for two reasons. First, to remind us to avoid blanketing statements when it comes to self-help and the like. Not everyone has the privilege of external stability, support systems, and access to safe spaces. And secondly, to bring equal attention to the fact that internal stability is just as essential to feelings of safety.

Essentially, when it comes to vulnerability and courageous self-expression access to resources is everything - both externally (ie. the security of finances, safe spaces, and belonging) and also internally. Our personal history profoundly shapes our emotional responses to everyday life and our working definition of what 'being vulnerable' will really cost us.

I was born on a Thursday in August 1975. My mother had worked the night shift, doling out meds to retirees at Flint Hills Manor in Eskridge before her head hit the pillow around 11 that night. When her water broke around 3:00 AM, she and my father made the 40 minute drive to Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka.

When they arrived, she reported only mild gas-like discomfort. So they took their time getting her a room. The nurses finally decided to take a look about an hour later, and she was eight centimeters dilated. She was rushed to delivery and when the doctor swung open the door, he hardly had time to scrub in. At her request, he administered an epidural, but I arrived 10 minutes later, well before any numbness had time to settle in.

I like to imagine the hasty entrance was somehow my doing, an effort to make up for the torturous wait my mother had endured. I'd come into the world six weeks past my due date.

Hesitation sometimes leads to more scarring. I left an elaborate smear of stretch marks along my mother's abdomen and a few weeks later, my father left a mark of his own. The emotional distance that had grown between he and my mother proved too vast an expanse for their young sensibilities to traverse. He'd met someone else. And they had plans to move to Texas.

"You'll always be tops in my book," she said to him before watching him drive away, their two Pekinese poodles looking back at her from his rear window. I slept soundly in the next room. Well, Harry Nielsen's 'Turn On Your Radio,' played at a low volume to drown out sounds of the Labor Day rodeo just down the street.

I grew to be a spitting image composite of my parents, a living testimony of how two unlikely worlds collided. My mother's hair was straight as an arrow. It hung down in perfect ribbons at her back.

Mine was different. She told me it was curly like his. It was perpetually tangled, impulsive and unruly. My father's absence was felt most during our morning grooming ritual. Taming my locks was a daily reminder of the tangled vines he'd left her with. As her tightly bristled brush fought hard to make sense of me, my curls would band together to heartily resist her efforts. I would squeal and squirm with contempt, and she'd labor on until I'd been righted. All the while, both of us wishing for something different.

Eskridge was my mother's hometown, and my parents had met there as teenagers. Visiting from Long Beach, my father rode shotgun in his cousin, TJ's '68 Chevy Impala when my mother and her friend hitched a ride with them to the nearby water tower. Mom was eighteen, a year and a half my dad's senior. Long and lean, she wore black horn-rimmed glasses. As my dad would later describe it, her long blonde hair 'flirted with her ass.'

He enjoyed her attention and the way she fondled a lit cigarette between her fingers before taking a puff. She was drawn to his sensitive and understated charm, and the subdued novelty of his west coast vibe.

Cousin TJ had to work, so my mother soon took over as tour guide. There was little to see surrounding the tiny farm town, so they spent their evenings weaving through dirt roads, drinking 3:2 beer and parking to trade heavy touch.

He soon flew home to attend his senior year of high school, and mom continued her part-time work at the local nursing home. For the next year, they wrote letters back and forth and after a three week visit to Long Beach the following summer, Mom was sold on their love and the liberties of a west coast lifestyle. She moved to California a month later. They moved into the small one bedroom apartment that had, until recently, been my grandfather's, only two blocks from the beach. My grandparents back in Kansas were a bit displeased by my mom's new living arrangements; and so, two days after Thanksgiving, my grandmother Barbara drove her son and his bride-to-be to Vegas with her best friend in tow to trade laughs and bear witness.

The four of them arrived in the early morning hours and headed straight for Wee Kirk o' the Heather wedding chapel, the same sanctuary on the strip where my grandmother had wed my grandfather, whom she'd since divorced after a tumultuous breakup many years back.

As my dad tells it, the $29 ceremony included a handful of casino chips. So the main event was followed by a visit to The Golden Nugget casino. My mother slipped on free cocktails, yanking a slot machine handle with characteristic optimism, as my father gaze on wistfully, unable to score a free drink at the tender age of 20.

Ten years earlier, when my father was just 10 years old, my grandma Barbara received the diagnosis: melancholia due to menopausal syndrome. For years, Barbara dealt with her depression with sleeping pills and heavy drinking. On rare occasions, my father would return home from school to find her still in bed. Unable to wake her from a pill and booze-laden slumber, he would call an ambulance. Oftentimes a loving and mournful note had been left scribbled on the nightstand nearby.

By the time my parents married, it had been a decade since Barbara's last suicide attempt. Yet for reasons unknown, it was then and there that her mental health took another detour into darkness. After yet another close call... and my father having spent a very stressful night in a hotel room adjacent to hers stalking her every move for fear of what she might do... she and my father had their first real heart to heart about her battle with depression, and she agreed to treatment at a state hospital. She continued without outpatient therapy, and eventually took up residence with her oldest son, my father's half-brother.

Things were looking up for her and it was right around this time that she encouraged my parents to move back to Kansas. She herself had an affinity for Eskridge having spent time there while married to my grandfather, and she was still close to his family. She alluded to the possibility that one day soon she would join them. Thinking her safe and well, my father and mother made the move back to the town where they'd first met .

Twelve days after they arrived in Eskridge, my Grandma Margaret would hold my father as he sobbed in her arms. Barbara was gone. She'd taken enough pills this time to ensure that she'd never wake up. There was no explanation; no note left scribbled on the bedside table.

I do not excuse my father for having left my mother and I, when I was not yet one month old. It has taken me years to unpack the trauma of his abandonment. And yet, I was seventeen when he and I reunited, and I accepted him into my life without hesitation or scorn. People often wonder at my ability to forgive him. But I feel that more than anything, our coming together is a testament to vulnerability. To his, and to my own.

Vulnerability is the willingness to step outside of the story; to brave discomfort and tell the truest truth... despite the pain.

My relationship with my father is a topic for another time. However, on the topic of forgiveness, let me say this.

It made all the difference that my dad had been to therapy, that he'd begun the inner work required in order to engage with me, my needs and my anger, without being governed and debilitated by his shame. He brought with him accountability, and an intimate knowledge of how our stories shape us for better and for worse. My father is also a storyteller. It is through the sharing of our own stories that we found our way back to one another.

He and I have the same squinty eyes and cheeky dimpled grins. We also carry within us the blood and bones of trauma. Our path of healing has not been an easy one, but it has been an honest one. And that has made all the difference.

Trauma often spreads itself across generations, endlessly echoing outward like ripples in a pond. We carry our pain around with us for as long as it takes... until we are blessed with the time, the space, and the resources to make meaning out of the mess.

Sometimes, like in the case of my Grandma Barbara, we never get a chance to express what's locked deep inside of us, and the pain eats away at us... eroding our ability to reach out for love and connection.

I am fast approaching the age that my grandmother was when she chose to leap out of her body to free herself from the hefty weight of shame and the secrets she carried. And I am quite sure that it's no accident I am wired for expression. Quite literally built to heal a legacy of self-abandonment.

I share all of this because to me, vulnerability isn't just a buzzword or a well-intended experiment and intimacy. As someone who was battled with anxiety and depression, vulnerability is medicinal. And in my family, it's a matter of life and death.

There are so many stories I could tell you about how I used to be a watered-down version of myself. Compliant. Insecure. Chronically anxious and unsettled. About how I armored up, because I always felt like I was living with my insides on the outside. I felt like I was walking in the world with two settings: either wide open or completely shut down. I thought my vulnerability was a liability or a problem that I had to overcome. It was better and safer and wiser to do as my childhood totem did and... To roll myself up in a ball, retreat inside my armor rather than brave the touch of an unpredictable world.

But if I spend too much time on the stories, we might just miss the point. Because my story, my grandmother's story and your story, it isn't really about all the hurt we experienced. It's about survival and how we go about freeing ourselves from the pain in order to become a more honest and vulnerable expression of ourselves.

In the next episode, we're going to dive a bit into the science of vulnerability; what we know about neuroscience and how the emotions function; the role that our history plays in our ability, or our inability, to constructively regulate our nervous system. We'll talk about fight, flight, and dissociation as coping mechanisms. I'll share with you how another early childhood trauma would lead me to survive the world by escaping from it; by blocking out the parts that I couldn't stomach and numbing out as a force of habit. I will offer you an opportunity to examine your own coping mechanisms. Perhaps, like me, you've inadvertently held your inner child hostage in an effort to protect her.

But before we go into all that... and it's going to be a lot of juiciness... let's spend just a little more time getting clearer on the why; why vulnerability is so essential on the path of courageous self-expression.

Now, one cannot speak about vulnerability without referencing the groundbreaking work of writer and researcher, Brené Brown. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she writes:

"Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy, the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness, will we discover the infinite power of our light."

At the core of Brené Brown's research is the revelation that vulnerability is, in fact, in many ways synonymous with courage. It is the ultimate strength and the emotional prerequisite for the fulfillment of universal desires, such as love, happiness, and connection.

Brené's findings demonstrate that in order to be available to the best of what life has to offer, we must be willing to expose our most vulnerable selves. Our quality of life is, at least in part, defined by the degree, to which we open ourselves to both joy and pain. Our happiness directly correlates with how vulnerable we are willing to become.

And as she reminds us, there's no such thing as selective numbing. When you dull the pain, you diminish your capacity for joy in equal measure.

There are many things that keep us from sharing our innermost selves bravely with the world. Both internal and external forces are at work. Systemic barriers, such as lack of resources and safe spaces can make vulnerable expression a near impossibility.

And so too can shame... that intensely painful feeling, or experience of believing, that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of connection and belonging.

Shame reads its lines from two universal scripts. 1) You're not good enough. And 2) Who do you think you are? Then, it gets to work weaving together stories that support these two frameworks. When we get caught in the web of shame, it manifests in our lives as isolation, addiction, depression, and countless destructive behaviors.

Because we mistake vulnerability for weakness, we learn to suck it up and hold it in. But the real weakness is in the identification with shame. Vulnerability is a muscle. The strength that we can build to set us free from the web of shame.

The cultural credo of the patriarchy teaches us to, above all else, be strong; teaching us that admitting our emotional discomfort and pain is itself a weakness. But this is a lie. When we reject our emotional suffering and the truth of our experience, we are weakened in our ability to not only address our own discomfort, but to turn and face darkness as a whole.

Whether it's our own or someone else's, when we turn from the shadow, it only gets stronger. Attention is love made actionable. When we shine our attention toward the shadow self and allow it to come out of hiding, our shame cannot survive.

Rather than holding it in, sucking it up or powering through the discomfort... rather than lashing out, pointing fingers and projecting our pain onto others.... We can be courageous enough to come to terms with what is real and true within our bodies, hearts, and minds.

When it comes to a discussion of vulnerability, I feel it is imperative to note that vulnerable self-expression is not the same thing as tantruming. A reactive outburst is not necessarily an expression of vulnerability. To be genuinely vulnerable, we must slow down, dip beneath the drama and take response-ability; take the temperature of our emotional climate and be willing to be held to account for what we find therein.

When we name our emotions, we no longer identify with them. And we begin to understand... we are not alone in what we are feeling. I find this to be the single most present and paradoxical theme in my work as a coach. The fact that everyone I meet who is feeling crazy and alone is fighting the same good fight as everyone else... only, without even knowing it. It's rather ironic that so much of our loneliness stems from an unwillingness to name the shameful secrets we have in common with every other human on the planet.

Vulnerability is power because what makes us feel most separate is the very thing that has the power to connect us.

Vulnerability is essential and it is a stepping stone to empathy, which is the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words when we are in a place of struggle are: me too. Now empathy is the fourth key. So we'll get to that soon enough. But vulnerability comes first because we cannot genuinely empathize with the feelings of another, until we've become intimate with our own emotions and how they shape us.

Self-expression relies on our ability to bring what lives inside, out. To risk exposing the most aching and bittersweet truths within us. Having said that, our inner life is sacred; and it should be treated as such. We must take great care in discerning when, and where, and with who to expose our deepest truths. Key number five, we'll speak to that. We're gonna to dive away the hell down into the rabbit hole that deals with boundaries and the like.

But just as erecting a wall is very different than living inside of a cage, choosing not to share and choosing to hide are two very different things. And we must become conscious of which forces operating in our lives. Self protection is necessary and may even be essential. That is until our armor becomes a prison that we've outgrown.

Anything that requires you to hide has an inherent power over you. And when it is within your means to seize back that power, please, my love, do so. I've come to learn that it is difficult to hide and be happy. We have to choose.

Now, I'm not talking about exposure for the sake of itself. Exposing your shadow self indiscriminately can result in over identification with darkness, and it can create unnecessary strain in your personal and professional life.

No, the vulnerability I speak of is more of a superpower that requires maturity and discernment. And with that in mind, I offer you three vulnerability practices to get you started:

#1: Self-care. Vulnerability expressed between you and you.

In order to become truly known, you must first learn to see yourself clearly. And if you want to know who you are outside of the drama that plays itself out all around you, you must slow down and find the stillness within.

My dear friend and self-care expert, Britt B Steele, is a yogini of nearly three decades and also a guide who helps women to carve out room for rituals of self-care that reshape and transform their lives from the inside out.

I've learned a ton from her over the years; but it was just about a year ago, after I attended one of her week long retreats that I was able to connect the dots on why two decades of movement and therapy had actually created such measurable benefits in my life. See, my journey of healing from childhood trauma led me to a deep and insatiable hunger for mindful movement. And also to a very necessary devotion to therapy with my Hakomi counselor. It was in these arenas that I did the deep-dive work and where I retrieved parts of myself and gathered resources that enabled me to finally 'do vulnerability' in safe and healthy ways. For over a year now, I've learned how simple daily practices can quite literally help me to retrain my nervous system, to help me create an emotional set point that holds me at a safe, arms length from the grip of chronic anxiety and addiction. Simply put, I make space in my life for my feelings and sensations. No more holding it in. No more hiding out with my secrets. And no more spiritual bypassing. I've broken free from a familial legacy of suffering, partially by wedding my mornings to self-care practices that set the tone for my day.

A devotion to self care is not as woo as it might seem. It is a way of consciously engaging with yourself... of nourishing and reparenting... and perhaps best of all, taking time to listen daily to your body, your heart, and your mind so that you can respond to what's alive inside you with consciousness and transparency before it surfaces as everyday drama.

Practice #2 Deep Intimacy. Vulnerability shared between you and another.

There's a freedom that exists in the spaces where we overlap. To be truly vulnerable with another human is to engage in communication that honors both parties in their fullness of expression, both light and dark. Intimacy is about much more than the baring of bodies and sharing of secrets. It is about mutuality of love, respect, and collaborative sharing. In a relationship where there's a high degree of reciprocity and trust, it is unconditional listening and vulnerable communion.

Be gentle with your raw emotional reality. Choose wisely. And when you find a space where you can safely express the truest true you have access, to despite the tremor alive within... Do it.

We become great at what we practice most. And vulnerable self-expression in safe spaces is no exception to this rule.

#3 Creative Expression. Vulnerability between you and the world.

There are times in life when the call to courage is about being vulnerable on a larger scale. As counterintuitive as it might seem, I am not alone in the experience that exposing my inner most struggles to strangers, even publicly, it can promptly transmute shame into power. It can inspire insights and affect change both inside and out.

Now going public is a high risk endeavor. Therefore, this degree of emotional vulnerability is suggested only when we can do it without performative intentions or an attachment to outcome. And also when we have first done the prerequisite work of self care and deep intimacy with others.

When we are vulnerable, we get to know our most authentic self. Vulnerability strips away, pretense, and it shows us what we are truly made of.

We will talk much more about the practical side of being vulnerable in the next episode. Until then, I urge you to sit with a question:

Are there any secrets I've been keeping from myself or from the world around me? And what would it cost me to bring them out into the light of day?

I would never be so bold as to speak for you, but in my experience, the costs of secrecy are incalculable. When we are unable to develop emotional skillsets, or we are denied access to external resources that support us in the constructive sharing of our stories, shame and loneliness keeps us from reaching out for support when we need it most.

In 1996, over twenty years after my Grandma Barbara's suicide, my father received another distressing call. My grandfather had beaten throat cancer seventeen years earlier, only to learn that it had returned with a vengeance. Despite 14 years of sobriety, my grandfather was found surrounded by booze and dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

My father now middle-aged, had been twice orphaned by a mental health tragedy.

I hardly knew my dad's father, my Grandpa Arnold. As a child, mom had taken me to visit him only a handful of times. But when my father called me with the news, I was leveled by grief. I cried harder than I had in years. It seemed as though my tears were not entirely my own.

I think it was on that day that I began to wonder if somehow, perhaps my grandmother had given me some of her pain to carry as my own.

I am devoted to honoring both of my grandparents by learning from their mistakes and making sure that people like them have resources and relationships that support them to live more transparently... with less shame, despair and regret.

Vulnerability is a collective endeavor. None of us can do it on our own. We must each be witnessed and witness in kind. Be brave enough to show up, listen up, and hold one another up as we dive deep into the dark spaces and retrieve the power and potency that was taken from us.

There's a reason vulnerability is the third key and that humility comes first. We must show up to ourselves and to the world around us so that we can remind one another that we are not alone in our pain, nor in our ability to rise above it.

Many fear of vulnerability because they don't have access to the resources necessary to contain and support it. And so together, we must build spaces for open sharing and courageous self inquiry. And we do this by showing up ourselves; bravely, fully, and without apology.

At least that's what I plan to keep doing. And I hope you'll join me.

I'll see you here again soon and in the meantime, get to know vulnerability as a sensation. Explore self-care, deep intimacy, and creative expression. What you discover through these practices will inform where we go next.

Until we meet again, get in touch with what moves you, and I'll see you next time.


© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter