Emotional vulnerability is one of the most challenging things there is.

As I sit down to write this, I already have goosebumps shooting up my arms and down my back. That overwhelming rush coming up the back of my neck gets to me and my head twitches and then stretches to the right. I don’t like going to this place. In fact, I’ve avoided this place for as long as I can remember. But I’ve been challenged to answer a question for the remainder of this year – what if heartbreak was your greatest healer?

When I heard that, I felt this energy rush over me and tears started to well up in my eyes. I grabbed my marker, took a deep breath, and wrote the question down on my flashcard. I knew that card would remain with me for the rest of the year and I would have to dive into this place of deep emotional vulnerability. It’s like swimming naked in the dark – you are always a bit on edge. Exposed like a nerve…not covering it up, but in fact playing with it.

I don’t like going to this place because it has been frightening in the past. But I’m here now. I’m right here and I’m diving through the glass that used to create a barrier between me and what I knew I was covering up. To many it may come as a surprise that I am in fact going through a stage of grieving because I have so much joy in my life, but I actually think that’s proof that I’m actually working with what’s supposed to be. I’m not running from anything. I’m not trying to cover things up or fix them. No, I’m just sitting with those moments and appreciating how deep they are – despite that depth being pain and suffering.

Those who have known me well have seen this in me before I could even see in it myself. Even one lovely woman who I worked with in class was able to look into my eyes for 5 minutes straight as I looked into hers and came out telling me that she experienced deep pain and playfulness at the same time. Forever I always believed that only one of these things could exist. However, as I begin to understand more and more about how life works, it’s a part of me that is in deep pain and grieving…not the whole thing. A part of me is experiencing great joy. A part of me playfulness. A part of me unyielding optimism. We are all made up of significant parts that function together all at the same time. The mistake would be to believe that all of you is one way. That leaves no room for anything else…and that’s just not true.

“Go to the deepest darkest place you allow yourself to be…and can you see a little light up in the top right corner?” Yes, I saw that light. I thought that light was something called resilience for years and years. what I didn’t know is that the light was indeed joy. How could joy exist in this moment? This horrible horrible moment? How could that light be joy? I remember how it felt during that moment – pitch black. The darkest black you could even imagine. If you’ve ever seen a black table that’s been lacquered thousands of times…the depths seem endless. That was this type of black. But no, there was light. Problem was…I wasn’t looking up.

It’s not going to be easy for me to come back to this place every day. Emotional vulnerability can take it out of you. There are lots of things that I have buried deep so no one could ever find them. Thing is, I knew they were there. They’ve been there the entire time. I’ve been so scared to let them bubble up that I’ve actually run from my past straight into the future and have completely forgot about the present. That’s no way to live life. That’s not how my life will be lived from now on.

This place, while dark, can be illuminated. Like all dark places, bring a bright enough lantern into it and you can begin to see things as they actually are – not how your scared mind has interpreted them to be. So I’m bringing that light in. And to that question of what if heartbreak was my greatest healer?…well, I’m going to find out. I’m going to search around and begin to understand how this beautiful life I’ve experienced so far has benefitted from my experiencing of the worst of times. No attacking outward. No attacking inward.

Into the depths we go.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project