Choosing vulnerability

I was raised to see vulnerability as a weakness. Told to not talk about our feelings, to put on a mask, pretend everything is fine – that it’s all about appearances and seeming to be perfect. I’ve built a life on chasing perfection and trying to fool the world and myself into thinking I am not a hot mess.

I kept everyone at arms lengths, afraid if they saw under the armour that they’d see me as weak, that if I talked about the things that had happened to me or the things that I had done, everyone would realise that I was far from whole. From being a little girl, I knew there were some things that should be kept a secret, and I became an expert at not talking. At putting on that mask every morning and falling apart every night. My body bears the scars of those unspoken words, so many nights spent crying myself to sleep.

Trying to do everything alone, with no help or support, fueled the depression I’ve battled most of my life, chasing perfection led to self-hatred and self-harm and addiction.  In trying to be strong, I was weak.

Through the last three months of heartbreak, of fighting to save a marriage, and finally admitting that it was time to walk away, I’ve changed the story of my lifetime. At first, my gut told me to shut off, hide away and not tell a soul. That voice inside my head told me that people would think I was to blame, that I was the reason for the lies and the cheating, that I wasn’t good enough as always.

Yet I found myself confessing. I still to this day don’t know where I found the strength to take that first step to vulnerability. I was surprised to find that my friends were outraged on my behalf, that they didn’t blame me, but the opposite – they couldn’t believe that a person could do that to someone they supposedly loved.

It’s been an awful few months, there have been weeks and days I’ve barely managed to keep breathing when I’ve felt like I am drowning in grief. I’m pretty amazed that I’ve kept that mask off. Admitted to how I’ve felt rather than doling out a standard ‘i’m fine’. I’ve had to dig deep, in those moments when I’ve felt the most alone and broken to find the courage to ask for help.

I’ve found that talking, being open and honest has been a life-changer. All of this recent grief has dug up so many old feelings that I have never dealt with. And this time, instead of running away, I’m facing them head on. It isn’t easy or pretty. I’ve found that my real strength lies not in fighting, in soldiering on and putting on a suit of armour, but it comes from letting go. Letting go of the need to be seen as perfect and unbroken.

The good days are creeping back in. Slowly. They are still few and far between, the days when I don’t feel like I’m wading through mud. When I can breathe and get on with day to day life. But those days fool me. One good day and I think, that’s it, I’m better. Then suddenly, it’s 9 pm and I’m curled in a ball for the second night in a row, on the sofa in the dark, tears streaming down my cheeks. Trying to breathe but not managing more than gasping for air. Or 3 am and I’m wide awake, feeling sick, longing for some relief, to feel numb, someone to hold me. Knowing that I have no choice but to hold on and fight, but not knowing how I can make it through another day of feeling like this.

I put myself out there, shared my feelings – the good, the bad and the ugly on my Instagram. Writing for no other reason that I had to, to survive. Putting metaphorical pen to paper made those feelings valid, and in living my own story instead of hiding behind perfection,  I finally connected. I learned that people found my mask intimidating and that when I was vulnerable, open, honest… true to myself that THAT was what they found inspiring. I have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement that I received, from friends and from strangers. By people reaching out to share their own stories, to offer words of comfort, to tell me how inspiring it was to see such honesty.

It’s not always easy, sometimes being open and honest leaves me feeling overexposed and longing to pick up that armour and hide away again. last week it was all a bit too much, and as the events of the last three months came to some kind of close, I found myself needing to retreat. To take a step back, just for a while, shut off the world for a few days and let myself just be. I’m wary though of retreating because I know that when I want to retreat within myself, it’s actually when I need company and support the most.

Changing the story of a lifetime, teaching my own kiddos that it’s ok to be vulnerable, that’s ok to ask for help, to talk and take support.

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

~Brene Brown


  1. samantha

    December 15, 2016 at 09:58

    Polly I love this post it is so well written and so true that to expose our truth is to admit our weakness but its the polar opposite I think. It takes bravery and courage to open up and really say what’s going on.

    I hope more good days head your way, I don’t know you but from reading your blog and following on Instagram you come across as a beautiful kind human being who deserves to be surrounded with people whom love you for you x

    1. polly

      December 15, 2016 at 23:00

      Thank you so much, I’m lucky to have some amazing friends surrounding me with love through this xx

  2. Claire

    December 15, 2016 at 11:42

    Beautiful words and I’m so glad you opened up, although I’m sorry for the pain it’s causing you. The hurt will heal and life will get better. It just takes time. Everyone is vulnerable at some time or another and the more we all open up, the more others can help each other. Huge hugs, always here for you xxx

    1. polly

      December 15, 2016 at 23:00

      Thanks lovely, I’m getting there slowly! xxx

  3. Kathy

    December 15, 2016 at 15:00

    Polly, I am in awe that you can put down on paper (or type out) how you feel. You are an wonderful writer. I hope everyday is a better one for you.

    1. polly

      December 15, 2016 at 23:01

      Thanks Kathy, each day’s getting a little better… and writing it down really is helping x

  4. Rachel

    December 15, 2016 at 15:08

    Sending all the love Polly. Being open is brave, not weak & I admire you for that. x

  5. Sarah

    December 15, 2016 at 21:41

    You come across as a lovely person, Polly, and your blog is inspirational. I’m sure better things lie ahead for you. Have you ever thought of writing a novel? You are such a good writer. Warmest wishes to you, I’m sure many people are rooting for you.

    1. polly

      December 15, 2016 at 23:03

      Thank you so much! I’ve actually been writing a book/memoir through all this, something that I’ve not published… maybe one day!

      1. Sarah

        December 16, 2016 at 13:18

        Do it! There’s always self publishing. Best of luck, from a fellow writer Xx

  6. Jess @ Along Came Cherry

    December 16, 2016 at 08:09

    I’m so pleased you have reached this stage and the fact you are having good days just shows that eventually they will all be like that. You are super strong Polly and you can do this! xx

  7. Lori

    December 16, 2016 at 11:39

    Love this post Polly, and so super happy that you’ve found this inner strength. it’s such a long self care journey x

  8. Anne

    December 16, 2016 at 11:43

    I love Brene Brown, she’s so inspiring. I hope you’ve seen some of her videos x
    It’s ok to hide away and grieve sometimes but opening up and showing how vulnerable you are makes it so much easier for others to step in and help.
    It sounds like life has been really tough recently, and I’m sure many people, including myself, can relate to how you are feeling. It won’t hurt forever, honestly. Just take your time and heal and know that you are most definitely not alone. Sending you big gentle hugs x

    1. polly

      December 17, 2016 at 23:26

      I have – her videos are fantastic xx

  9. Lottie | Oyster & Pearl

    December 16, 2016 at 11:53

    Absolutely Polly, I share your views completely on this. Also, Brene is just the best with this stuff x

  10. Molly

    December 16, 2016 at 12:42

    I love the honesty and openness of this post Polly. You write so beautifully about something so painful. I second what Jess says – you CAN do this. xx

  11. Kathryn

    December 19, 2016 at 12:40

    You’re so right Polly, sometimes true strength comes through admitting our vulnerability. I’m so glad that one of the silver linings of this whole horrible situation is that you’re opening up and dealing with some of the stuff you’ve tried to bury in the past. I think we all do it and it’s hard to be honest with ourselves. Stray strong, stay vulnerable lovely xx

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