Grief. And Vulnerability.
Since I have started this blog, it has only been beneficial to me. When I first started up it was an attempt to make myself feel less lonely as a stay-at-home mom living in a second story apartment, when I continued and starting posting more personally it was a way to document and journal my evolving family and my life as a mother, wife, and homemaker, and when I later developed more about what I spoke about here it was a way of expressing a thought or idea and through expression and response came clarification and deeper understanding… Kind of like when you start talking about something only to realize there is so much more to it than you initially thought, it’s as if just by speaking the words you are suddenly aware of new aspects on the subject. This is what this blog has done for me, and in many ways it has been my tool, encouraging me to zone-in on a happy moment, narrow-in on a new discovery, and be grateful for even life’s littlest treasures. It has been a happy place for me. A place of gratitude and discovery and growth. And so I’ve recently been on the fence about writing here now… I’ve been hesitant to explore rawer emotions and painful personal experiences. I didn’t want to taint the happiness this blog has captured, and I really didn’t want to make it a sad read. Naturally over the years there have been negative things I could have written about, but I really intended on keeping this a bright and sunny destination – a place that you can head to for a dose of pick-me-up inspiration, not a tear-jerker one. But… In the aftermath of a series of unfortunate events in my marital life, I’m realizing that I need to utilize every outlet I have to keep myself sane and balanced, and that includes this outlet right here. I need to continue to do the things that make me happy, and especially the things that are mine, the things that allow me to express my own personal identity, and to emulate myself as an individual – not just a mother, wife, and homemaker.
I’m not quite ready to go into specifics of what exactly is going on, but one of the many things I’ve had to deal with has been vulnerability. Vulnerability is a place that I had only previously explored when I felt like it, and a place I avoided when I didn’t want to go there. Grieving in the way I have been over this past month has led me down the road of unavoidable vulnerability, and I’m slowly, slowly learning to lean into it… I was always intrigued by the strength of vulnerability; the way some people consistently avoid it like the plague while others leech onto it and use it to feed their attention deficit. Obviously, the medium between the two polar opposites is the healthiest way to go about it, but even that seems to be particularly difficult for people in our society. It seems to really be viewed as a sign of weakness, and I feel like most people will do anything to avoid it. A while ago I had read something that a women wrote on vulnerability, and I was shocked by how much it resonated with my own personal feelings on the topic – so much so that I could have written it myself. Much like most of the wonderful things I read online, I had no recollection at all of where I had read it :), but after some good ol’ google searching using keywords I remembered I found it on DesignMom (written by Amy Hackworth), and I’d love to share it with you here:
In my neighborhood there is a long, steep hill I avoid walking up. I strategically plan my walks so that I go down this hill. It’s long and steep. A few weeks ago I was walking for clarity, hoping that one foot in front of the other would ease an ache in my heart, and on my way down the hill I passed a young mother who was pushing two small children in a stroller. They were going up. Barely.
She wore a Boston marathon qualifier shirt, so I knew she was no lightweight, but she was several steps behind the stroller, leveraging her body, her arms fully outstretched. She was nearly parallel to the ground as she inched her way up the hill. I made a joke about how I try to avoid walking myself up the hill, and here she was, pushing two kids. Amazing! She smiled and panted, “This is harder than I thought it would be.”
I offered to help. There was room for two of us on that stroller handle. I even half-turned up the hill, sure she’d take me up on it.
Although she was clearly struggling, she declined.
I was disappointed. She needed me, and helping her would have helped me, too. We could have shared the burdens of motherhood and humanity for just a few minutes, and then we would have gone our separate ways, both a little better off.
But she declined. It only took me about two steps to start judging her. There she was, clearly in need of some help. And there I was, ready and willing to help. An offering of needed hands was right there, and she rejected it. She said no. Aren’t some people funny? I thought.
And then. A friend of mine came walking up the hill. A friend I don’t know well, but whom I already love and trust. Her kind face lit up. “Amy! How are you?” and in a split-second I considered my choices. I could tell her honestly about the sadness I was feeling, and my ready tears could spill over for a moment. I knew she’d care, and I knew I’d feel better if I let her care about me.
“I’m fine,” I lied. “How are you?” She was fine, too, and we both kept walking.
Until now, vulnerability had been a choice for me. One that I sometimes went with and sometimes left. And even now, while the sudden publicity of what I’m going through makes me vulnerable in general, I still make a conscious decision at times to give into it or not. And while I’m personally dealing with this in a huge way at the moment, I feel like exploring our own vulnerability and learning to lean into it is something that I wish I spent more time thinking about before now, and something I feel everyone could benefit from. It’s something that would tremendously deepen our level of healthy interdependency. If you have the time, when you have some time, this TEDtalk by Brené Brown is a must for anyone looking to develop themselves and build upon their relationships. It’s 20 minutes, but it’s well worth it! (Run a bubble bath and play this while you soak up some relaxation :))
In conclusion to what I thought would be my most difficult post, I’d really like to thank everyone for their bravery in reaching out to me with kind words, care, and mostly, just simple straight-up support. While it is trying and exhausting as we both try to work on things together and apart, I feel blessed to be part of a sisterhood of women, wives, and mothers, and I really appreciate the love that has been projected my way. Thank you all for your kindness, and just know that it makes this entire ordeal so much less lonely. Thanks!