Vulnerability is strength, or so I have read over and over and in turn have practiced this motto in the past. Albeit it when life has been giddy though. With rainbows and butterflies and a few fires that were easily taken out. It’s easy to be vulnerable when life is easy. Now, as I’m sitting here typing these words out, wanting to be as vulnerable as possible, I don’t feel strength. I feel, panicked. And yet I have this urge to just write it all out. To purge the last two years of gut wrenching, agonizing heart ache and lessons out to anyone my words fall upon and who is open to reading them. And then I stop and think to myself: Why would anyone be interested in reading what a middle-aged woman in a mid-life crisis, who has recently gone through a divorce, have to say? The keystrokes stop.
A small, faint whisper comes forward: “Because at one point or another in this life, we all feel alone and frightened. And don’t know what our next step is or how to dig ourselves out of the deep pit of grief that has fallen upon us” And the voice continues with: “It is by being vulnerable and sharing our fears, stories and how flawed we are that we find connection with one another. How even though we have tripped a hundred times, we still get back up and walk through the grief every day.” That’s it! Now you’re on to something Rach.
Nope. You sound like a Brene Brown protege. The keystrokes stop again.
Let the words flow like one of Lao Tzu’s cool mantra’s: “If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to”
Immediate halt. No flowing words like Lao Tzu floating along a lazy river here. Just shaky fingers holding back from typing.
Just let your own words flow Rachael… Don’t hold back. Okay.
My Mother who has been my rock and foundation throughout my entire life has been ill the last couple of years. There I said it. We don’t know how much longer she has to be here in this realm and the knot in my throat won’t go away. We almost lost her last October and then my husband of eight years who I devoted my life to, who I left not only my career for, but my entire sense of being for (more on codependency another time), left me in February via a phone call and subsequent text messages. I haven’t seen him since he made love to me the night before then literally snuck away with his toothbrush and packed bag in tow early that next morning. And the loss of my two stepdaughters who witnessed this all unfold, has been pretty gnarly too–They never really liked me anyway. I just got in the way. I have only been left to imagine his manipulative, triangulation in defense of the many acts of deceit and betrayal that occurred throughout the entire marriage. (My vices were out in the open, come to find out, his were behind closed doors). The gas lighting over the years of “you are crazy and connecting dots” was so convincing that I ended up in outpatient/group therapy. It turned out I was just fine but instead, ended up with a thorough education on personality disorders and how convincing manipulators can be. Those dots were actually red flags. Then there is my brother. Whose beautiful, innocent soul was hijacked by the awful mental disorder of Schizophrenia as a young adult will soon, ultimately be my responsibility. So, needless to say, I’m a little pissed off.
Pity party anyone? Because feeling sorry for and victimizing oneself is a blast. I promise you. Let’s not fail to mention the red wine which flows night after night at my party too. If we are going to be vulnerable, we might as well be completely honest too. Red wine has become my best friend and is often the only friend with me at my party. It used to be a bold Chardonnay, but the sugar was too sweet for the hangover that follows the next day after my pity parties. And lets also be sure to not forget about the mid-life crisis I was already deep in before the husband left either. Which subsequently led to a few hookups. As the saying goes, the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. But in my case, it turned out ‘on top of him’. Because there is nothing more empowering than hooking up with someone in their mid-twenties to make you feel more in control of the downward spiral your life has taken. Now THAT is how you find a deep (no pun intended) connection while lost in the abyss of grief and sadness from a divorce and a terminally ill Mother. Who by the way was recently diagnosed with the C word. We don’t ask for numbers to go along the C word. Or treatments. Or timelines. Because when it’s your time, it’s your time and I have to learn to accept that somehow.
So, what do you do next? You get out all of the old self-help books glaring at you on your bookshelf and throw them all away. Literally, in the trash. To be picked up by the garbage man. Because that is all they are. Garbage. Just like the garbage you felt like when he discarded you. It’s all so metaphoric.
Light bulb then goes off the same day the Pulmonologist gives us the “C” word with the bright idea of reaching out to ex-husband. Yes! Let’s invite him to pity party with a venomous email blaming him for everything. Which then turned into a glorious exchange of words. Not. See what I mean about those self-help books? And I think to myself, but hurt people hurt people. Another ridiculous meme I picked up over the years. All lessons out the window at my pity parties. Let me tell you, that particular one was a blast.
So, you pick yourself up with as much dignity as possible and you dust yourself off and carry on. That’s all you really can do when life comes down this hard. You wake up and tell yourself, no, this is not a bad dream. This is your life, and it can be brutal. And this is one of those times that being soft, flowing, and lucid like Lao Tzu are probably not going to cut it. But being more like Charles Bukowski because he somehow ignites the fierce and boldness in you. Bold like your Mother who has picked herself up from the depths of way more horrific and agonizing fires time and time again throughout her life time. And who never threw pity parties. And you take that and learn from her. Not the books in the garbage.
I hear the faint whisper again but this time, louder. And I hear her voice. You got this little one. And I will always be with you. And the knot in my throat softens.
Now that was fucking vulnerable Rachael. Let’s see if you feel any stronger today for it.
“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire” Charles Bukowski