Vodka: The Not So Perfect Vulnerability Serum

“I NEED MORE TIME WITH YOOOOUUUUU!!! We don’t talk enough!!! I’m LONELY!!!” I wailed as I sat on my ex-boyfriends chest after a night of drinking one weekend. As he lay on the floor in disbelief, he looked up at me and said “But I thought you were HAPPY! I thought everything was great!” The shock of my unhappiness hit him hard and I could see the terror in in face as I continued to sob my lonely tears out, soaking his t-shirt and chest that night. After all the drama was over, we went to bed and slept restlessly.

Waking up in the morning we talked about the night before and I blurted out “I’m sorry I over reacted, I’m sorry I said I wasn’t happy, I’m sorry I was so overly emotional, I’m sorry I want to talk more because I know you’re busy, I’m sorry I cried, I have Daddy issues…….”

After each apology, I could feel my heart sinking deeper and deeper into my chest as I excused my emotions and threw my own feelings under the bus. You see, I did have issues of the father sort, he died when I was three suddenly, and it had a profound impact on my life. But my bigger issue was the fact that I was absolutely terrified of being vulnerable. I was so scared to share my feelings, to speak up for my emotional needs and to ask for what I needed in a relationship that it took me approximately eight ounces of vodka before I was willing to let go of the control I was so careful to keep over my needs and emotions. They would then come flooding out in heaps of emotion and energy where they could certainly not be fully heard or understood by my partner.

The fact was, I was so scared to be vulnerable and speak up for my feelings of wanting to see him more, wanting to talk more, wanting to connect more, because I was terrified my requests would be rejected. If I opened myself up and communicated what I wanted, there was a very real chance I could have those requests rejected, ignored, laughed at, dismissed, or forgotten about later on down the road. The thought of speaking up about my loneliness and telling my boyfriend how I was feeling left lumps in my throat and I figured if thinking about those feelings felt that bad, surely talking about them and bringing them into the open was only going to make the pain worse.

And so I drank, and I cried, and I communicated in a blurred and foggy state and continued to make excuses for my vulnerability when I did show it, throwing my ‘Daddy issues’ out front and centre to reason away having feelings and needs in my relationship. It was my wall, my protection and my way of getting myself back to emotional safety as quickly as possible because opening myself was so unbearably uncomfortable.

Here’s the thing though, none of the relationships where I put walls up worked out. And yes, there have been many where I did this, a few where I did this exact same thing. None of those relationships even had a leg to stand on because of how scared I was of opening myself up. I’m not saying my ex partners were perfect, but looking back now, even if they had been open, I was not. And I shut them down at every opportunity because of my fear of vulnerability. I let my fears of possible rejection, possible dismissal, possible confrontation and possible pain get in the way of learning and growing with someone. I let fear block true intimacy and true love with someone, even if they weren’t the right ones for me.

Eventually I got tired of this pattern though. I grew weary from not speaking my truth and my frustration at the lack of love in my life grew too. My fear of rejection only created more rejection. It turns out the walls we build work really well. If you build an emotional wall to protect you from being hurt, your behavior will block people, which in turn hurts you. Letting your fear run your relationships may feel safer than opening up, but it will never lead to true, lasting, deep love. It can’t. When you block hurt, you also block love. This was the invaluable lesson I eventually learned after many nights of tears and excuses. I decided to be brave enough to keep opening myself up more and more and it has been the best decision of my life.