Vulnerability and Me

I’m a vulnerable adult.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what this means.

Maybe it’s because of the pandemic and how often the word ‘vulnerable’ is used: it’s gone viral. In this context vulnerability is presented as an individual problem. It’s my body’s fault that I’m at higher risk from COVID, and if I die it’ll be because I’m vulnerable. It’s synonymous with expendable.

But the thing is, my medical vulnerability is just a fraction of what puts me at risk.

Policies that invalidate my life are a much bigger issue.

Systemic oppression is what I’m most vulnerable to.

A digital drawing of Jess Thom in her hospital style bed, there is colourful bedding piled underneath her she is creating a spider gram on her iPad - the word vulnerability is at the centre and coming out of this at the top are the words - social care, austerity and government. There are empty circles at the bottom.

Vulnerability is presented as being two things – permanent and frightening… but I’m not sure it’s either. It’s the possibility of being harmed, either physically or emotionally. In that sense, we’re all vulnerable from the moment we’re born.

We mustn’t let vulnerability be weaponised, let our choice of words erode our humanity or the humanity of others, or make anyone feel unworthy of support.

Vulnerability isn’t the same as weakness. Being vulnerable takes strength, and there’s power in being completely open.

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