Conversation about Vulnerability

In this issue, our Conversation participants are Peggy DeBoer and Christine Cappetta. Each woman will respond to the same questions, providing you an opportunity to hear different perspectives and continue the conversation with your circle of friends. 

Peggy DeBoer is an ARNP certified in Adults and Geriatrics and has been involved in healthcare since 1979. She currently works with the Siouxland elderly to help them continue to live in their own homes as independently and healthy as possible. She is also an adjunct professor at Morningside College in their Graduate Nursing program. 

Christine Cappetta is the Lead Pastor at ARK United Methodist Church in North Sioux City, SD. She has a BS in Youth Ministry and Biblical and Theological Studies from North Park University, Chicago, and is currently getting her MDiv through Sioux Falls Seminary. She is wife to Matthew, a foster, adoptive, and bio mom to six kids volunteers as a Client Advocate at Her Health Women’s Center in Sioux City, and an aspiring chicken homesteader leaning on the grace and hope of God amidst life’s messes. 

Siouxland Magazine (SM): The theme for this month’s magazine was inspired by Brené Brown. She states that only through allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to rejection do we open ourselves to acceptance, love, and belonging. What are your thoughts on this?

Christine Cappetta (CC): We all desire to be known, loved, and belong as we fully are. Until we allow others to see “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in us, we won’t know if they truly love us completely or just the parts they see. Unfortunately, some people will choose to walk away when life gets difficult or when there is a rift in the relationship. If we never risk having someone walk away, we also never have the chance to have relationships with true acceptance, love, and belonging.    

Peggy DeBoer (PD): I think allowing yourself to be vulnerable to rejection is the gold standard of solid mental health. In working with older people, I have noticed they have a difficult time showing vulnerability by asking for help when they need it. Many times, they think if they ask for help, it will lead to losing their independence or their family rejecting them as being a burden. Most times, it has the opposite effect, and they receive what they need to keep their independence, and their family will make more effort to help them maintain their independence.

SM: Facing vulnerability takes enormous courage. How have you faced your own vulnerability in life?

PD: When I lost my first husband, I found myself in a very dark place. My pride prevented me from asking for help because I didn’t want to look weak or wasn’t capable of doing things on my own. I also didn’t want to look like I had lost my faith or no longer trusted God, because as a Christian, faith and trusting God is important to me. Once I accepted my problem and reached out for help, my situation and my mental health greatly improved.

CC: I think two of the most important times to be vulnerable are when you need to express an emotion or a need (to express love, to ask for help, etc.) and when you have an opportunity to help someone else. I have experienced postpartum depression (PPD). When I had my first child nearly 11 years ago, I had never heard anyone talk about PPD except in a clinical setting. After my second child was born, I knew I was suffering from PPD, but I was too embarrassed to say anything. I suffered with it for three months before I overheard another mom casually talking about having PPD and how her doctor helped. Her vulnerability to talk about her experience gave me the courage to be vulnerable with my husband and my doctor so that I could seek treatment. I don’t want others to feel shame or embarrassment about mental health struggles, so I often share my experience to try to help normalize it and to simply tell others, “I see you.” 

SM: What do you say to people who are consumed with what others think of them?

CC: It takes a lot of energy to worry about what others think of you. I tell people that it is important to focus on what is important to them and their goals, and they will be happier, and the people who matter will see you. 

PD: I tell people that it is a waste to let others rent space in their heads for free and kick them out. I think age has a lot to do with whether you are consumed with what others think of you. I have noticed younger people today are more self-confident and not as consumed with what others think of them. Older generations would never leave the house until they looked proper and were very concerned about whether others would approve of them. Many thought that if they looked put together, people would think everything was okay, even though it might not have been.

SM: In a world that currently seems very polarized, how can we embrace the vulnerability of sharing thoughts or opinions that might differ from the majority (or loudest) voices? Is this important? Why?

PD: I think it is important to share our thoughts, even if they may be different from others, as long as we do it in a manner that is not demeaning, mocking, belittling or a personal attack on the individual. It is only through open and honest, face-to-face conversations conducted in a civilized manner with those who have opposite opinions that we can find common ground. When we have more of those conversations, we can truly understand where the other person is coming from, why they think what they think and feel what they feel. Without that, we can only assume what they think and feel, and we can be completely wrong.

CC: Sometimes, the most vulnerable thing we can do is admit we don’t know everything. During a polarized conversation, stating, “I don’t know everything about this topic,” “I am trying to learn,” or “I have never thought about it that way before,” can relax the conversation enough so that a dialogue can happen. We also need to recognize that not every conversation is helpful or even necessary. We don’t always need to share our thoughts and opinions, especially with someone who is unwilling to be open to listening or if it is an unsafe place (whether physically or emotionally).

See an article you like?

Share it with your friends on Facebook and make sure to like our page while you are there so that you don't miss out on other great stories.

You'll find us here >>>