Vulnerability Breeds Empathy: One Star Taught Me to Shine
By: MEGAN ARMSTRONG
September 8, 2014
Brandon Marshall is a star. I’m still learning how to shine. We share nothing, except for this.
But this is enough. It’s something. It matters.
“You have what is known as Mood Disorder N.O.S.,” Dr. Hugo told me, before expounding that Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is a general mood disorder that doesn’t completely align with one specific mood disorder.
I kneaded my fingers, nodded my head and tapped my foot. I smirked and thought of Brandon. In 2011, Brandon informed the world of his borderline personality disorder in a press conference and hearing of his symptoms spiked my curiosity. My God, some of that sounds like me.
On May 30, 2014, my curiosity was affirmed. Nothing changes at the moment of diagnosis. I’d been through this before, when a different doctor diagnosed me with general anxiety disorder and major depression five years ago. Diagnosis is only the clinical beginning.
There is an emotional storm created once becoming acutely and painfully aware of your vulnerabilities, regardless of what vulnerability. But the eye of that storm can hold empowerment and hope, through love.
Brandon taught me that. Dialogue shows me that.
People I love breathe life into my belief every day now, because I have learned to let them. On Memorial Day, my family spent the weekend at our house on the lake. We sat on our deck late into the night, the stars twinkling and conversations bubbling. I asked my cousin Jillian a question.
When do you feel most vulnerable?
Jillian responded immediately, “Megan, don’t ask me that.”
Nonchalantly, I fired back, “Why not?”
“The hurtest hurt I ever felt was the mere thought of losing you, Meg,” she said, simply speaking words but also conjuring a sentiment I needed to hear and she needed to say. Finally.
Jillian and I talk about our vulnerabilities often now. Sometimes, we even talk about Brandon’s green cleats. She thinks they’re awesome. I’m thankful for Brandon, and his cleats.
There is nothing I love more than learning the intimate details and crevices of people’s souls, what makes those I love tick and why. Perhaps, some of that is because I know how integral my vulnerabilities were in molding my strengths.
We are all mosaics composed from millions of internal pieces unique to us, yet common in so many ways. Some of my pieces, however painful, introduced me to Brandon Marshall. Embracing my vulnerabilities allowed me the privilege to embrace Brandon and continue to embrace the souls of others in a special, special way.