Writing by Isa Denney Strother // Illustration by Lola Dunham
There is a fine line between comfort and vulnerability.
A fine difference between being strong in your weakness and being weak because you thought you knew your strengths. Because you thought you knew yourself and how far you would go, how much you were willing to share, how much of yourself you could give to another.
Stripping down to your bare bones looking for comfort without your crawling skin and realising you have revealed too much.
Comforting hands against trembling skin, but that skin no longer feels like your own. You try to pull it away, to show what’s underneath, but suddenly you are self conscious of the bones and muscle and fat just skin deep. You are too vulnerable and yet you want to give yourself over to the comfort of being known.
Looking for recognition while you are afraid of being seen. Looking for touch when you are untouchable, looking for love while you feel unlovable, looking for hope when life is hopeless, looking for new skin to cover bare bones but it is not truly your own.
You have been looking in the dark, and under the water of warm baths, constantly scared of being walked in upon in this state of undress, seeing this ugly that you do not wish to share with anyone.
You want to share, and as soon as you are pulled further from your small home you find yourself turning back, changing your mind, retreating from your revelation and turning your back on the person you thought you could give you vulnerable self to, the person who let you feel comfort in feeling unsure, naked in their eyes.
There is no shame in being afraid; in not feeling comfortable in your own body, in wishing that you could pull layers off yourself and discard them in the cool night breeze that sweeps so mercilessly and constantly by your window at night.
There is no shame in pulling away — in pushing some unwanted form away from you, in saying you don’t want this. There is no shame in the waiting, the grief period, the holding on to lost parts period.
There is no shame in trying to pull your own heart out so that you can see how far it has been consumed. How much of it is still yours to give and how much of it has been given away by another you, another time, to another warm hand accepting the trembling organ only to wrap strong fingers around it and squeeze.
No one makes it out unharmed. No one makes it out without personal blows to their comfort, to their vulnerability, to their sense of self, to their power over their own bodies.
I believe the trick is to never give yourself away; you are gently letting someone in. You’re letting someone catch a glimpse of the you that you rarely share. Of the fragile and important you, or the you that you are uncomfortable with in your comfort. You are letting someone hold your trembling self, letting them have some degree of gentle power over you and then gently rejecting themselves from you when you need to be alone, to regain your power, to hold your robes and skin tight to you to let yourself remember the you on display and you that you were earlier that day.
There is no shame in having given yourself away; I hope that you can heal, I hope you can recall that you are the one in control and that no one can own you. I hope you recall that your vulnerability can be beautiful, that the hands you offer it to can be gentle, that there are soft words to be spoken and arms that welcome you with no string attached.
I hope you know that you are strong, that you are beautiful, that there is no shame in vulnerability, that there is no shame in holding back, or letting go. I hope you know that you are a star to someone, that you are the unattainable. There is power in being unattainable, my friend; there is power in being together.
Now you can sew your skin gently back together over gleaming white bones, pour glue over your wounds, place flowers in the gaps, say your chants and affirmations, look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are beautiful in your vulnerability and also in your strength.
You are powerful.
You can be kind and careful at the same time.
You can be gentle and comfortable and safe. You must be careful. You must help yourself. You must hold yourself dear. Hold yourself close and never let go; it is important to know that you own your skin, you own your own body, you own the beauty that you are, you own the skin and the scars.
You are perfect in your vulnerable state and also in your strengths.
How you are now, you are beautiful. How you were then, you were beautiful. How you will be, with these new flowers, these new scars and vulnerability and blue and pink memories, you will be beautiful still.[share]