You will see many references in the media in these days of the Corona virus – for example, which groups of people are particularly vulnerable, such as those over seventy years of age, those with underlying medical conditons etc. But the reality is that we are all now vulnerable to this virus, young and old, rich and poor. And the susceptibility is not just a physical vulnerablity but also psychological.
I was surprised when I went to look up the etymology of the word ‘vulnerable’. It originates 1600, from Late Latin in or around 1600, from vulnerabilis “wounding,” and from Latin vulnerare “to wound, hurt, injure, maim,” and from vulnus “wound”. Thus, I can be wounded and injured by this virus.
A client of mine recently gave me a real gift in this area of vulnerability. He had spent a lot of time coming to terms with a particular situation which required him to come clean with somebody, to tell the full truth, and leave himself vulnerable as a consequence. I asked him what is was that he needed from this encounter with the other person. “All I need”, he said “is to be understood. I don’t need respect or acceptance, I just want the other person to understand, given how much of myself I have given just to be able to tell the truth”.
I think these unique times may allow and require us to open up more. It may also mean that other people may open up more to us as well. And, in these interactions, might a really good result from the encounter be, if nothing else, that we are able to understand and be understood?