Flowers and lilypads floating on top of the river, sunset in the background

The Power of Vulnerability

If you are like me, you were likely raised in a family where being vulnerable, open and honest were not commonly expressed traits. Secrets were kept, emotions were suppressed. The elephants in the room grew old and bored. Shells hardened around our hearts. Conversations remained surface level. And eventually, the family grew apart. By this time, I had “escaped” – traveled as far away as I could away from the dysfunction that I was used to, that I could no longer stomach. It was just too painful for me, as an empath, to live amongst my family members who entertained their shadows and basked in their own suffering. I knew I needed to save myself. And so I traveled the world, in search of a new family.

For a long time, I would not care much to write home, or call my parents. It would be an afterthought, a once-in-a-while kind of deal where I’d suddenly feel guilty for not having spoken to my parents for weeks, or months. But it was “normal” – or so I thought – to live in such a fragmented way, apart from my family. Surely it was widely accepted by society. Look at the amount of families who become separated because they find jobs, get married, have kids and move away. Maybe they’d see the grandparents once a year, if even.

My parents were like that. We would see my grandparents rarely, once a year if we could swing it. As I began to near my 30’s, I began to notice my friends a generation older than me having to return to their parents to aid them with illnesses or assist them in their older age. I quietly observed this phenomena, the sudden realization that “Oh shit, my parents are actually getting older, helpless, and I’ve got to show up for them because no one else will.” It broke my heart the more I internalized the idea of remaining distant from them until they were old and struggling.

Then I thought, “I could just start now.”

I could start showing up for them now. While my parents are still relatively young, able to walk, without illness. I could start loving them now, a concept that used to intimidate and almost embarrass me. What would it be like to be close to my parents in my older age? What would it be like to reveal myself to my parents as an adult? How would they receive me? What would they think of who I have become?

It has been at least three years since I pondered these thoughts, and since then there has been immense growth in the relationships between my parents and I. Just two weeks ago, my father initiated a hug for the first time in my adult life, whereas I would usually be the one to do so. And earlier this year, my mother and I tried MDMA together during an Earth, Wind and Fire concert.

Let me share a little story. Last month at the first-ever blockchain conference in the Philippines, I met a young woman named Cris. She had blue hair. I knew, the first time I laid eyes on her, that she would be important somehow. I ended up meeting her and her sister the following hour. It turned out that Cris was a tarot reader and psychic. We had a lot to talk about. She invited me to her home to meet her mother a few days later, who was also an intuitive card reader. A numerologist to be exact.

The reading I received from both Cris and her mother was so blunt, so hard-hitting, that I felt as if I’d been hit by a sixteen wheeler truck. The truth hurts sometimes. But I also felt incredibly liberated, as if I could feel the sigh of relief from my shattered ego, ready to be reconfigured and rebuilt. I recorded the hour-long intuitive reading, which was done almost entirely in Tagalog (the filipino language).

A month later, I find myself back in my home state of New Jersey for the holidays. Last night, I decided to share the recording with my parents. I hooked up the bluetooth speaker at the dinner table, and hit play. I silently relived the sharp truths spoken to me by Cris’ mother. When my ego recovered and relaxed, I took a step back, allowing myself to observe my parents’ reaction to this powerful woman’s words of divination about my life and my personality. I felt both naked and relieved. I felt seen for the first time by my parents, in the most vulnerable way possible. Here was a woman with a sharp, witty tongue on a voice recording, smashing one hard truth after another about my greatest strengths and faults, while my father either laughed, hid his face away shyly, while my mother crouched even closer to the speaker to listen, to frown, to look at me with curiosity and compassion.

I just sat there, allowing the spoken words to reveal more and more of the most hidden aspects of my personality. My sensitivities, my failed relationships, the hidden sadness, the lack of direction, my big heart and the grandeur possible outcomes for my inevitable success. I embraced this sacred moment of transparency and truth, feeling grateful for the strange turn of events that led me to cris’ mother, and now to this dinner table.

After the recording finished, we put our dishes away. I could feel a sense of tenderness that i’d never felt from them before. All shields were down. The walls were non-existent. The elephants had disappeared. All that was left were me and my parents. I felt like a little girl, innocent, brave, held in an energetic container of safety. I felt protected by my parents. I felt as though they had gained important knowledge about their own child that could now help them navigate what it means to be MY parents.

I feel very deeply that forging vulnerable and open pathways between myself and my parents is the only way forward if I am going to someday raise a successful tribe that will span many generations.

How you treat your family, how you treat your own parents, is exactly how your children will treat you.

I desire to build a tribe where our elders are revered and deeply respected. I wish to be honored as an elder myself. Not forgotten, not an afterthought, not left alone until I am helpless and desperate. No- that is not the way of my tribe.

If you are reading this, remember: You could just start now. You could start showing up for your family, for your parents, right now. That is the way of the self-leader. It is the power of radical love and vulnerability that is going to alter the paths of our future generations.

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