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January 6, 2017

The Unbreakable Man: What happened when I let myself be Vulnerable.

Sitting on my bed in my underwear and finally allowing myself to be broken was the best thing I ever did.

It only took me nine years of intensive meditative practice.

If you’re a guy and you’ve felt unbreakable your whole life, I recommend you do the same.

At the time of these half-naked bed revelations, my business was failing. A business that I’d put three tireless years into was crumbling before my eyes. My bank account was zero, and my debtors were banging on the door.

I’d unwillingly made many enemies from a lifetime of trying to save people who didn’t want to be saved. Angry, confused, and hateful, these people were also banging on my door.

And it feels difficult to say, but in the midst of all this I was lonely.

I would wake up at 4:30 a.m., meditate, and work until 6 p.m. Then I’d listen to jazz, cook, eat, read a book for 15 minutes, meditate and fall asleep.

I started to get sick: back-problems, ulcers, bacterial infections—the whole deal. I kept working anyway.

Now, you would think this combination of positive traits (a hard-working, entrepreneurial, helpful meditator, happily suffering for a cause) would lead to happiness and success.

So why was it all falling apart? How could it all have gone so wrong?

It was at this point that it hit me. I’d gone almost 30 years of my life without a fundamental human experience: feeling like we aren’t enough. 

My family was poor. I had left school at a young age. I had worked 90-hour weeks in high-pressure, abusive kitchens. I had taken every drug known to man and gone days without sleep while running multi-million dollar event companies. I had meditated for 14 hours a day for three months on the side of a volcano and practiced meditation twice daily for nine years.

Yet nothing had ever broken me.

Sitting on my bed in my underwear, this all started to make a far-off sense.

Maybe there was something that I’d never experienced? Maybe what I felt to be vulnerability, was nothing near the intensity that others felt?

For the first time in my life, I felt that I wasn’t good enough.

I was astounded to think that others felt this daily. And that these emotions are actually a hallmark of the human condition.

That moment on my bed I felt, for the first time, utterly broken.

In this absurd new state, I called a friend of mine. He came over, and he confirmed, smilingly, that what I was feeling was “normal,” and I had the first discussion in my life where I felt deeply connected to another person.

Astonished, I felt the deep space of despair fill with a rich, warm, melancholy glow. It felt like something was pulling out of my chest.

My friend assured me that this wasn’t a heart attack. It was, in fact, what it felt like to be understood.

I had never in my life felt understood.

I know it sounds strange, but it had never occurred to me.

What I experienced as understanding before was nothing compared to this.

Colourblind people see monochrome, and for years don’t realise that the colour they see in their world isn’t the colour we see in our world.

At this moment with my friend, I was like a colourblind person seeing green for the first time—laughing, but also a little confused and astonished.

I apologise to everyone I’ve know in my life so far. It seems that I’ve never experienced deep connection with someone—not until this moment.

But I believe that I’m not alone.

I believe that there’s an entire group of people (many of them men) out there who have never felt broken. They just don’t see the world like you do. I know it sounds strange. But there is a group of people who have always felt good enough, and have never truly and deeply allowed themselves to be broken.

And we’ve been missing out.

So if you’ve never felt anything to be lacking in your life, or yourself, I ask you to do the unthinkable: allow yourself to break. Just once.

Believe me, you’re going to love this. It’s a whole new experience. Looking back at all of my problems earlier—their root cause was in not knowing how to feel broken. (It’s counter-intuitive, I know).

In one of those strange ironies that only life can create: you have to learn the art of being broken to be whole.

To those who often feel broken, I ask you do something that is equally difficult. Allow yourself this one idea: that everyone whom you feel is “more” than you (more powerful, more intelligent, more successful, more in control) probably has no idea what you’re talking about.

Feeling broken simply hasn’t occurred to them.

If it did, they would offer you an understanding that you’d never dreamed possible.

Because that deep connection through shared experience is, as I now know, the essence of what it means to be a human.

You can show them that connection that only the broken can feel but you have to let your guard down too.

Vulnerability, I have also learned, is a two-player game, and it always pays to be more vulnerable than we think we are.

~

Relephant:

What Does it Really Mean to be Vulnerable?

Being Vulnerable: The Cure for Being Needy.

~

Author: Ed Mark

Image: lucahennig/ Flickr

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

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