Vulnerability Then & Now

The word vulnerability had a completely different meaning back then compared to what it means now…

There was an instant connection the night we met. We weren’t looking to meet anyone, we just simply found ourselves in the very same place at the very same time when our eyes met. Our relationship blossomed overnight into an overwhelming attraction and sense of connection. We felt like we had found the missing piece to the puzzle of our lives. He just fit and he said the same about me.

We were both imperfect beings that somehow got caught up in the feeling that together we could find perfection; that we found a means to belong. Just as a key has the exact pattern to fit a lock, this was us; we unlocked something completely unfamiliar but so wonderful in each other. And, with all of this came excruciating vulnerability.

We spent that summer exploring and sharing our hearts and dreams and beliefs growing more and more alive and connected. He belonged to me, he was now a part of me and I was the same for him. I had never felt ‘seen’ the way I did with him or by him. He knew I had seen him too. There was always a sense of comfort in knowing that we could see so deep into each other, but the fear that we were unworthy of this deep, authentic connection kept itself floating just beneath the surface.

We lacked the courage to share our imperfections; to allow ourselves to be completely vulnerable and be seen for all that we were. I struggled with loving myself as did he. The shame and fear we carried kept us from allowing one another to be completely seen. We never fully disarmed ourselves from the wall of belief of unworthiness.

A few years later, our world’s once again collided with a sweet vengeance. We attempted to commit to our fear by getting engaged and moving in together. However, after experiencing many job losses, making many moves, having our three babies, suffering and struggling with addiction, living in poverty and severe emotional instability, we were once again unable to let ourselves be seen.

We worked strenuously at numbing the awful, painstaking emotions of shame, fear, guilt, hurt, etc. I worked hard at controlling everything, and unsuccessfully I might add. He pretended that his actions didn’t impact anyone else. And we both blamed one another in order to discharge our pain and anxiety.

The brutal cycle only gained momentum as it picked up all the crap (guilt, blame, anger, shame) along our journey. Killing off all of the other probabilities of ever feeling joy, happiness, connection, belonging and most importantly, worthiness.

We lost all hope and committed marriage suicide. This was the only answer—the last resort— to ridding ourselves of the pain. But it truly made everything worse; everything. The pain was still there.

How did we get to where we are today? Even still today, almost 15 years later, I’m overwhelmed seeing the words that describe our prior “then” lives, relationship, marriage and beliefs. More so the disbelief we had in our lives, relationship, marriage and so on.

As I look back at all of this, it’s amazing to me how we managed to allow ourselves to show the ugliest parts of us via those destructive means of acting out, but we feared too much to reveal the real (shame), vulnerable us. We feared that the other would see the real us and…we wouldn’t be enough. Oh, the irony. We like to call it self-sabotage.

Ultimately, it took A LOT of work. Counseling sessions, letting go of worry, letting go of control, heated arguments, making compromises, practicing selflessness, shedding tears, enjoying laughter, hearing one another, understanding, prayers, long talks, honesty, acceptance, I could go on and on.

Knowing that we were committed to do the work (stare our shame and fear dead in the face) alongside of one another made the digging out of our deep hole much more bearable. And as we progressed, the light outside and the light inside of us, grew brighter and brighter. We continued to understand and realize we were worthy of one another, of love—deep, committed, intimate love—of our dreams, of happiness, of living without chaos.

We learned how to live as we were intended to be—who we were—not who we thought we were to be. (Big difference there.) And, then we had compassion for one another for who we were, faults, weaknesses, quirks and all. We’ve encouraged one another to follow our dreams and accomplish our goals. And, never left each other’s side. We believed in ourselves.  We believed in one another. We believed in US.

We’re confident and know with everything in us, that neither one of us is going anywhere. We know that we can overcome whatever comes our way—together. This confidence could have only come with excruciating vulnerability. Yeah I said this before, but you see what was different this time around, right? We were completely honest with each other, we mourned our losses together, we apologized for the pain we caused, we forgave each other and while all of this happened, our hearts were growing stronger and stronger and beating with a rhythm that resonated with that of contentment and peace and joy and overwhelming gratitude. We allowed ourselves to be seen, COMPLETELY seen.

Today, we are both open books (no pun intended:-)). We completely embrace vulnerability and are available to be completely seen by one another—so much so, we’re in each other’s head quite often; the epitome of being one—and by the world. We couldn’t imagine it being any other way!

Remember… be vulnerable, it reminds us we’re alive and worthy!

Giant hugs,

Amy Jo


I inspire hope bringing families together! Blissfully married to @rhawkins18 & immensely proud mom three young adult children. Loves writing, laughing, dancing, crossfit, photography & hats!

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