Chronic Snarkopolist: Accepting Vulnerability
I have put this off because I’m mortified of telling you this. This week I was sad for a multitude of reasons- reasons I’m supposed to be over – like anniversaries I’m NOT supposed to remember. And oddly- it made me sad about my Mercer cat too – I felt as though I were going through the death of my cat all over again though it has been a few months. Physically it has also been a difficult week for me and I decided to get a massage. As I lie on the massage table a new massage therapist I have never seen began neuromuscular release on my shoulders. Suddenly I felt them – TEARS.
I have HEARD that people sometimes have an emotional release on the massage table. But this was a first for me. Images of Atlas carrying the weight of the world flashed through my mind. I felt betrayed that the only time I ever get touched is when I’m paying someone. Where are my gentle caresses – being held in strong arms and my loving touch and any sex that doesn’t come from my top night stand drawer or include batteries?
Granted, the really talkative massage therapist was also telling me about not having any insurance. And she got to the point in the story where she was pregnant with twins and nearly miscarried them when she had diabetes and then her husband left her because she was sick and THEN I started crying. So yah, MAYBE that also had something to do with it. But I’m so tired of hearing the same stories over and over of loss and suffering and people hurting and our partners leaving us and not having healthcare and financial crisis and being single parents AND needing touched.
When I started crying she asked if she was touching me too deeply and I thought, “your story certainly is, my emotions are crushing my heart” but I said aloud, “I’m having an emotional release.” And she said, “It happens.” And she kept doing the deep tissue massage. What a strange way to release pain. I have heard of cellular memory and I have often wondered what it felt like to have such things or if body pain heals in the same way it gets stored. If so – perhaps she healed me as she triggered muscles to release tension. But I did NOT get any sort of happy ending so you know- I’m relaxed but STILL A LITTLE PENT UP.
Meanwhile, many people have been talking about vulnerability this week and showing our “true self” to people. And that really struck me. Because I thought, who is this true self? WHO IS OUR TRUE SELF? Is this my sick self or the self I want to be? Is this my ideal self or the woman I have been in the past? Is this who I am to others or the person I have been to myself? Or is the person I have been added all together with all my complex identities I take on during all my different roles I have engaged in throughout life?
Here is my secret – sometimes the things that make me feel the most vulnerable are also the most gratifying. For example- when I get letters from former students saying, “Thank you – you have changed my life.” THAT is both gratifying and vulnerable because I worry that I will never change another life again. I fear that it was my only shot at it. I worry that I will never live up to it again. I worry that I’m not living up to my best life. I chide myself for not doing my best now. I am grateful that I had those chances. I worry that I’m throwing away any second chances I might be overlooking. And these are all vulnerable thoughts. Sharing myself is vulnerable because it leaves me open to criticism AND to looking foolish. Or worse to being ignored!
A brilliant writer who happens to be a friend always kicks himself when he is not selling well enough. And I constantly have to remind him that being a writer means to fail. And that the only time writers ever STOP failing is when we stop writing. The only time we STOP being vulnerable as humans is when we stop living life.
A dear friend gave me some beautiful words on my not-anniversary. She said, “Hopefully you can find a person who accepts their vulnerability and yours.” What a beautiful thing to say to me. I held them in my heart realizing that accepting me for all of who I am is a powerful thing. The greatest gift we can give each other is to accept each other for all of who we are- tears, illness, vulnerability, the whole ridiculous package.
What do you think? Have you ever cried during a massage? Have you ever considered what makes you vulnerable or realized that what makes you most vulnerable is actually what makes you most beautifully human? What vulnerabilities do people need to accept in you in order to accept all of you? Tell me! I must know!
Tags: chronic autoimmune conditions column, Chronic Snarkopolist: accepting Vulnerability written by Melissa Travis, coping with grieving, feeling vulnerable, grieving, grieving and chronic illness, learning how to find our way back to ourselves, managing chronic conditions, managing vulnerability, vulnerability, vulnerability chronic illness