I recently took a personality test. It revealed that I am mostly a woman who likes results, who's goal-oriented, no-nonesense, determined to accomplish what I set out to do. To be honest the result did not shock me, as could be expected coming from the "Country of Control" (as per the personality test). Words like "deep thinker", "strong-willed", "born a leader" that would make someone else wince give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. I'd like to think that the Virtuous Woman came from the Country of Control. I'd like to think that she had tenacity; that she wasn't wishy-washy and that when she had something purposed in her heart, she saw to it that it was met. (Okay, perhaps my country's a little inactive when it comes to waking early, praying, exercising, etc., but we already established in Blog 5 that the Virtuous Woman wasn't perfect.)
But what disturbed me and disturbed me deeply was when placed on the scale of human warmth, I scored an icy 120 on the side of "hard" and my soft side merely met half of that scale. I stared at that result for a long time, stunned by my score, my head buzzing with rebuttal as I fought the urge to declare, "My God, I'm the tin man. All metal, no heart!" It was a blunt revelation of hidden things inside my physical shell. It explained with some attempt on euphemism that I am deathly afraid to show my feelings unless it's to someone I completely trust and even with that, the walls of protection rise up instantly at the very first sign of questionable support. But 120? What was the matter with me? What trauma did I experience as a child buried deep into my subconscious that made me place an iron cast on my vulnerable side? There is no way on this planet that the Virtuous Woman was emotionless! I was venturing on a senseless journey with no finish line!
That week while driving through Prospect Parkway there was heavy gridlock coming from Manhattan, the opposite side of my direction. As I came closer to the traffic I saw the cause of that volume--two collided cars, thrown in different directions. An FDNY was attempting to open the side door of one car with a huge machinery to get to a woman who was slumped against the driver's side. In the meantime, the EMTs had lifted a person on a gurney to put inside the ambulance. The only thing I could think of were the families of these victims waiting for them to get home from work but here they were involved in an accident that may be fatal. I burst into tears praying outloud in my car, "Please, God! Please, God! Let everyone be ok!" And I know it wasn't the proper time to think about it but this is the circuitry of my brain function--when I got to the light on my exit, seconds after the accident, I thought, "But wait, how could that affect me so deeply when I'm a cold, cold person?"
I immediately took out a mental list that outlined situations in my life that evoked such responses. Running out of work to meet an acquaintance suffering with depression. Driving to the hospital after working over time to stand by a friend's side as they cried over an ill family member. Taking out from my family's savings to help someone in need. I am being honest. I started making a list of all my good deeds that seemed to me were generated from a soft side in a dire attempt to prove, if only to myself, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that indeed, I do have a heart. This very act, I must tell you, disturbed me---recalling acts of good work that the Bible teaches us to forget in order to pacify my fear that I perhaps did not care about anyone. I had to get into a prayer mode in the middle of the BQE and ask God if indeed I was the tin man reincarnate. Then I saw a haunting vision of a good friend who, upon discovering infidelity in her marriage, cried at my feet and wailed as she begged me to remove the pain from her heart. I buckled down on my knees and we held each other and wept and I was awed by her open demonstration of pain. I thought at that moment that I would never be able to exhibit outwardly that much pain nomatter how excruciating it was and I admired her honest and naked response which exposed the depth of her suffering. I thought that she was one of the bravest women I knew. To be able to declare publicly that she was in deep pain, for me, took immense courage.
So God made me realize that the hard part was directed solely at me, sadly. That while I could be vulnerable for others it was a feat for me to be vulnerable for myself. "You have to atleast trust one person," my husband has said in times past. "I would love for that person to be me."
And this is my newest quest, in addition to waking up early, praying, stretching, etc., To work on the issue of vulnerability. To believe, indeed, that vulnerability in me could come from courage and that it is, to some extent, a part of virtue. I'll retake that test in a year and hopefully, the tin woman would have, in a year, found her heart.