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Chronic Snarkopolist: Accepting Vulnerability

Post Published: 17 November 2010
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Category: chronic autoimmune conditions column, Chronic Snarkopolist, Column
This post currently has 11 responses. Leave a comment

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!

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11 Responses to “Chronic Snarkopolist: Accepting Vulnerability”

  1. ODV says:

    You have one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. And you have courage, wit, and wisdom. All whose lives you have ever touched will always walk beside you. You deserve joy. I know you’ll find it one day.

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Thank you so much for the lovely words!! We all do our best to walk in love and joy. I would love to have you share your stories here.

      Much love!!
      Melissa

  2. Linny says:

    Melissa,
    First I send you a hug.
    Also I want you to know I read this earlier today and was thinking about the message.
    I think a lot of us feel we have been given more than our fair share of trouble. Of course we’re right….but the real thought that keeps waving over the not fair statement is the wave of “nobody said life was fair”…..I know little comfort.
    But we were once little girls who read fairy tail about living happily ever after. Is it any wonder we know say “where is my Prince?”
    For many it may not be about a man. We may have one we take for granted, as surely they also take us. For myself it is to keep my family together. I seem to have so many family issues. It is mostly about the women. A couple of the women just have to keep angry about something. They have spouses that have learned to do as they are told. If they start something, which they do, the get covered imediately by the men, “Oh no, they didn’t have anything but the best intentions…”
    So nothing can every be fixed. I cannot imagine them to be very happy either. It seems that they have too much control over our happiness. If they aren’t happy, they have to have everyone unhappy.
    After widowed and I starting getting out hoping to meet someone. I made a girlfriend who would get up from the table by herself and starting dancing. I asked her why that came so easily for her. She told me something that I think is a great answer. She said, “why do I have to sit at the table and wait for a man to give me permission to dance?”
    Well she is right. Why do we give others control over our happiness. Why do we determine our joy by who is with us? Well I think the answer is WE have to be the joy ourselves.
    Oh and by the way, interesting thing happened. I learned to dance alone too. Very often a man will just start dancing with you. Ha, its funny. They see you dancing and think “wow this is great” I don’t have to ask and subject myself to being turned down!
    Love it that you were able to cry. It is so valuable to vent this sorrow. Take care, Love and HUGS! LINNY

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Dear Linny-
      Thank you so much for giving me permission to dance by myself!! You are so fabulous. I love how you think. I love your wisdom and your words. You heal me every week with your views here.

      Love so much!
      Melissa

  3. Lynnwood says:

    Yes, I have cried during a massage – for many of the same reasons — touch! — and having to pay to get it. As for vulnerabilities — people need to accept that I am not always the strong one…even when I’m at my sickest people tend to still lean on me and I’m over it, ya know?

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Hugs, thanks for sharing Lynnwood,
      Yes- I do get it. I do! It is interesting that we have become the healers and the healed all wrapped into one. I do my share of supporting and it makes me feel good and safe to do so… but I must admit that I’m getting better about showing my vulnerable side… and sometimes I have to say– it is scarier than ever!!

      Thanks for sharing!!! So much!
      xoxo
      Melissa

  4. Monica says:

    Melissa,

    You have no idea the impact you leave with your writing and sharing. Your ability to express whatever it is you are experiencing at the present moment is a true gift!

    When you allowed yourself to cry during the massage means you are getting in touch with your true soulful self. The deeper the massage, the more depth involved.

    I used to get massages to feel the external warmth and relaxation – now when someone touches my body it immediately opens up my soul and I am able to release pent-up emotions that seem to only manifest when the touch is loving and healing. You don’t need to know the person giving to you on a conscious level because it is our souls that are connecting and it is not something we can see but feel.

    Continue to live life to its fullest, my dear!

    ☮ ♥

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Dearest Monica-
      Thank you so so much. You so get it!! You just do. And I’m glad!! Yes- a deep soul level!! I love that you wrote in to say that because sometimes I feel like I’m more able to be open and others are more open with me… even online here – we are reaching out and sharing and healing and touching each other – on a soul level. And in a massage – I’m able to heal EVEN DEEPER like that. On a soul level.

      Love and snugs and xo’s.
      Melissa

  5. Lolly says:

    Melly Mel

    All I can say is you have touched my life and I love your openess. I don’t like to show my volunerable side at all I hide it well.

    Sorry not been about much got a lot of family shit going on and a baby arriving very shortly so an anxious and exciting time.

    Love you lots

    Lollyxoxox

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Dear Lolly-Lol,

      All I know is you NEVER have to apologize to me you gorgeous thing. You have always always been a solid in my life. Thick and thin you magnificent thing. If you’re wading through it- just reach out ANY TIME and the rest of us will reach in and hold YOU UP. It is YOUR TURN to ask for support and help. YOU ARE LOVED. You are SO LOVED.

      Can’t wait for the baby to hear the Lolly bombs that get dropped. *giggle* Love you so big. You are the light of my life gorgeous. Anytime you need a supporting hug YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND THEM OK.
      xoxox
      Muah!
      Melissa

  6. Amy says:

    Melissa,
    I really relate to what you wrote. I don’t get massages because I feel too vulnerable. I don’t get touched unless I ask repeatedly for it and then it feels forced and not loving. or it feels loving but awkward.

    I also really relate to what you said about when a former student writes and says you have changed his or her life. And you wonder if you ever will again. I’m an RN and not working and I get email from patients and their families and I wonder those same things… that time was a gift and I wonder if I did it right, and if it really was as good as I remember and if I will ever get to do that again; to make a difference on that level again. I don’t know if I will. I don’t know if I ever have. And thinking about it is hard.

    I don’t read many articles on here because I’m a math/science person and writing and feelings and talking about feelings is pretty uncomfortable for me.

    I don’t know which me is me. I have lots of me’s I think. I do know this much- I hide the real me behind jokes and pretending not to care what is happening to my life and my body. I over-share details that people call “TMI” so that they think I am an open person. But it’s a weird thing I do that I have no clue when I started doing this but it’s not right for me to pretend to be a very open person and be open about things that are taboo to talk about in society (when it is really just how I was raised that talking about sex/bodily functions at dinner was normal) and I hide behind that. It’s a lie.

    I do have people I do not hide behind that TMI version of me and I share how I really feel with them but it does go back to being vulnerable. It’s hard being sick and having people who swore they would love you no matter what, in sickness and in health, and then leave. And then more people leave. And I get sicker. And more leave. But new people come.

    It’s hard figuring out who is here to stay. I’m in my sixth year of this and I still can’t tell who is here to stay. I’m sorry this is shitty writing and that I’m a math person and not a writer. And that I have too much fatigue to copy it into Word and spell check this. I apologize. But this is the real me for today. And I’m staring at this and comparing it to other posts as I sit here and decide if it’s worthy of hitting send. Because I am vulnerable. And you’re gonna know who wrote this. Or not.

    You are a beautiful writer. And I love you.

    Love,

    W.T.

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