I meant to post this earlier in the week, but I got sidelined with a nasty
ear/nose/throat thingy that has really knocked me for a loop. It also put the fear of G-O-D in me, since my doctor has said that if I get the flu, I will have to go to the hospital. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. (In fact, I apologize in advance if this post is a little rambly - I'm kinda hopped up on Sudafed.)
It’s such a weird thing to live in fear of getting sick, especially since I’ve never been much of a germophobe. Some of my friends open public restroom doors with a paper towel (you know who you are). I have no problems kicking off my shoes and going barefoot in a crowded bar (especially if those shoes are getting in the way of executing some sweet dance moves). I’m also a devout follower of the 10-second rule. When you’re both clumsy and a fan of yummy treats, you sort of have to embrace that rule, or you’re just setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartache.
But now, thanks to my battle-weary white cell counts, a cold is not just a minor annoyance -- it's some life-threatening boogey man that could land me in a serious world of hurt. And quite frankly, I don’t like it. Not one bit. It makes me feel...vulnerable.
On paper, I’m pro-vulnerability. I think sitting with discomfort, embracing it, and listening to whatever it has to teach, provides a rare opportunity for grace, for moving closer to understanding all of those questions that usually don’t have answers. So in theory, I love vulnerability. Love it. Big fan.
LIVING it, on the other hand, is another thing altogether.
It’s not just the cold/sore throat/achey thing (although that does suck), it’s moving out of my apartment and back “home” to DC, getting winded just walking up a flight of stairs, and relying on someone else to pay the bills.
(In a twist on the 70’s show of the feathered bangs, Charlie is my Angel – although as he put it “you must have really f***ed up in a previous life to get ME as an angel, like I can hear you saying 'I was expecting a beautiful maiden with the long hair and the wings. Who sent me the cranky Italian!?'”)
Unlike past break-ups, or broken bones, or getting the car towed – or any other of my countless dances with feeling fragile, I don’t really have a choice this time. I have to let vulnerability lead. And even for all of my lip service to the contrary, I've really been fighting it.
And then I saw this TED talk by Brene Brown. She's a sociologist who studies issues of empathy and vulnerability and her research has led her to this conclusion: the people that are the happiest, the people that feel the most connected, believe that what makes them vulnerable, makes them beautiful. For me, it's realizing I look good - with or without hair. Or that accepting help can actually bring me closer to people I love, not make me a burden. Or finally understanding that I don't have to do so much, that sometimes it's okay to just be.
Who knew having cancer could be so beautiful?