How I Learned To Be Vulnerable

How I Learned To Be Vulnerable

One woman almost lost her future husband because she refused to open up to love after a divorce.

The first time my husband told me he loved me I responded with a polite "Thank you."

In my defense, we'd only been dating a couple of months and I met him four days after my divorce, but it still took me another two years to really let him in and allow myself to be vulnerable. Six months into our relationship, he gave me a diamond ring that had taken him weeks to find. He wanted to make sure the ring was special because he was asking me to marry him. I had built such a strong wall around my heart that I actually didn't get that he was proposing! I thought he'd bought me a nice present. When some friends asked if we were engaged, I said "no" and broke his heart. He stayed with me anyway. This special man just kept telling me he knew we were soul mates, and he would wait until I realized it, too.

I found it incredibly difficult to talk to him about my feelings or allow him to truly love me. I started arguments over insignificant things and hurt his feelings over and over again. Looking back, I can see that I was just scared. My previous marriage had scarred me much more than I had realized; I was protecting myself without even realizing it, but understanding the reasons didn't change the effect it had on our relationship.

After almost three years together, we split up. It was sort of an "unofficial" breakup because he just moved to another state to work for a few months, but we both knew it was just an easy way to end our relationship. It didn't take long at all for me to realize, once he was gone, that there was a huge void in my life.

He moved on, and I was lost. I began to take a close look at the things I had said and done that had pushed him away over and over again. I came to the realization that I had to find a way to open myself up to love, whether it was with him or someone else. If I didn't, I would never have a fulfilling relationship.

The next three months I read self-help books, kept a journal, went to church and spent hours talking to friends in an attempt to understand myself. I kept in touch with him and agonized over the fact that he was dating, but I knew that the only way to heal our relationship was to first heal myself. It is true that before you can truly become vulnerable and open to another person, you have to be able to be vulnerable and open with yourself. The process for me was a difficult and painful one, but the experience was life-changing.

He finally came home, wary that my changes were only temporary but willing to try again. Everything about our relationship changed for the better. We talked much more, and this time I was open to what he had to say. I actually heard him for the first time! I deliberately stopped focusing on the things about him that I didn't like and paid attention to all of his best qualities instead. The little annoyances that I had fought with him about became unimportant. I began writing him notes and letters, pouring my heart out and truly wearing my heart on my sleeve. It was such a huge risk for me emotionally to open my heart like that, but even when it was difficult I forced myself to do it. In the past, when he would ask me questions about our relationship or my feelings about our future, I would make a joke or talk around the subject. This time I allowed myself the freedom to be honest and loving. A year later we were married.

We are nearing our two-year wedding anniversary now, and our relationship continues to improve. It is something I take the time to express my gratitude for every day. Closing my heart off protected me from getting hurt but kept me from experiencing the joy of loving someone and being loved. It is not easy to heal old wounds and allow love in. Allowing myself to become vulnerable, to risk being hurt, to share my true feelings with another human being, was a gift to myself. It changed the course of my life forever.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.