I’m Trying Not to Think About Vulnerability.

by Em Bowen

True vulnerability, the kind that runs through a person like a torrent, makes my shoulders ache and my neck stiffen. Do you understand what I mean when I say the phrase, “open your heart”? It sounds so cliche’ in my mind and yet I can bring the technique into situations where intimacy is not really required of me. I can “open my heart” with the a little distance and I truthfully only like to be vulnerable when I’ve had ample time to think about it. What a shit for my romantic relationships.


I’m saying something about boundaries and something about bodies. The rain was falling fast and hard on Campbell Boulevard and the streets were already flooding by the time I got my groceries back to where I’m house-sitting. The dry earth isn’t used to taking in so much at once.

I’m thinking about vulnerability and its relationship to the body. The thought is too fresh, to painful to consider. When Alton Sterling’s vulnerable body was shot, you got to wonder what got him killed? Was it the gun on his person? Or was it two white cops taking advantage of a vulnerable black body in America. In reaction to this murder, I am not vulnerable. I am a white female-bodied person. This doesn’t directly “affect” my body. But one body is all bodies. Don’t white people realize we are all connected?

I’m trying not think about vulnerability. I’m trying to feel it. Take it into my body so I can surpass the desire of my mind to make sense of the non-sensical. You can’t make sense of this. You have to feel it. You have to feel it. You have to feel it.

And you have to say it. Say his name. Alton Sterling. Say their names. I’ve been silent because I didn’t know what to say. I thought I couldn’t but I have to. We have to.