Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vu ln er ab le

After we broke up and I found out that my cells were confused, I did not want to update this blog. I stared at the computer screen for hours, not typing. Then days.

I wanted my old life back, and if I couldn't have it, I could at least leave the last post, the one about the climbing trip with all the photos, as the most recent. I knew that I was sleeping alone, that I'd lost my primero adventure buddy, just as I knew that certain cells in certain places in body were out of order. But that didn't mean I had to tell anybody. Readers could recount a year's worth of ski trips and climbing weekends and alaskan adventures and assume my life was hurtling along on that same trajectory, and I would be safe.

I'd never admit it in a thousand years, but my sneaky little ego was so satisfied with having this visible life that other people could be jealous of. And the last thing I wanted to do was let anybody in on the big secret. Because when something that seemed infallible comes to an end, you begin to doubt how authentic it was to begin with. And I couldn't have that. Not after all that work.

And then a funny thing happened. I wrote Endo. Five minutes after I hit 'publish', I got an email from a reader. And then another. Then tens. Then dozens. Support about my health. Empathy and gratitude about heartbreak. And a whole lot of interest in my ability to put out there. In essence:
What are you thinking? Does he read this? Do you want him to know that you're sad? A tough engineer from the boat put it best when he leaned back in his bar chair, looked at me sideways and asked, "Don't you ever feel like you're over sharing?"

So I wanted to pause, before I go on with this story, and respond.
In the last month, my ego feels like it's been thrown out of a car.

I mean, ouch.

Someone I loved, and he had to be so handsome, got to know me very well and then decided that he did not want to have me as his partner. He was eloquent, kind, respectful about it. But, who am I kidding, that just makes it worse.

Now I'm a rational person. And the fact is that I chose too. I decided that I did not want him as my partner, either. It was mutual, and it was right.

It's just not the worst thing that could happen. After all, we all, as in every single one of us, break up and break down and break things and just break. Kind of all the time.

So I'm smart and I think all these rational, reasonable thoughts and meanwhile my ego is flying out the window at 60 miles an hour.

You know what's tough? Saying these things: I miss him, I cried in the car, I couldn't sleep. Saying them publicly. When he is not saying these things at all. Because he is completely not obligated to say those things. And I, for some reason, am choosing to.

Health problems are like having vulnerability forced upon you. It's so difficult, when you're active and athletic and zooming about all the time, to have to give up half the day because you're in pain. That happens to me some times, and I'm not in control of it. However, the medical stuff isn't too hard to write about. It just just takes a little experience and crafty wording. Up till now I've talked about endometriosis without saying, and this one doesn't count, "uterine lining." I just talk around it, then deflect your attention with a picture of a needle in my arm.
Or a photo of some crazy tubing and weird medical apparatus.

Heartbreak is a decidedly trickier to put out there.

After all, after we've had our hearts stomped on we're supposed to hit the ground running! Bounce back up like a little cartoon that's been hit with a hammer, laugh a wicked laugh, hop a train and motor on quickly and effortlessly and lose some weight and never look back, not ever! and certainly not be bogged down by those messy, useless, embarrassing little emotions.

One is absolutely not supposed to cry in one's pot roast at the thought of somebody else taking one's place in the passenger seat on all the road trips. One is not supposed to go to the gym and swim for two hours at 11:30 on a Friday night because sleep is not in the cards, or sleep on friend's couches so one does not have to be alone, or avoid the big fun ski season opener party just to avoid a potential run-in*. And if one does slip up and do such a thing for God sakes don't tell anybody.

Sufficient to say, I've broken the rules a little bit. Because I think those rules are complete shit.

Brene Brown puts it beautifully: "Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous."

She goes on to explain that in fact the opposite is true, that vulnerability "Is our most accurate measurement of courage." 

After twenty seven years of living as an extremely open person, and four years of being an extremely open person who writes about herself, I no longer subscribe to that profoundly dangerous myth. I no longer equate vulnerability to weakness.

We all chase happiness in different ways, but pain generally springs from the same sources: loss, rejection, disappointment. In that way pain connects us all, except that we're not really supposed to admit when we experience it. 

Disappointment, sadness and vulnerability are perfectly acceptable, as long as we do it in private. As long as nobody sees. So we end up feel isolated and ashamed at a time when we most need to connected and uplifted.  

It's not easy. I'd be thrilled if Andrew believed that I was this beautiful mystery that enhanced his life and then disapeared in a puff of smoke, never to be heard from again. And oh god, the next girl in his life who gambles with the google search and ends up on this site with all this raw stuff up for grabs? (Oh, the thought and the accompanying venom of jealousy- an instant appetite suppressant potent enough to ruin tea time. Forget it. And what about the next boy in my life? Is he already running full speed away, legs an invisible whirling blur? Forget it! I'm not posting again until I live a Title 9 Catolog existence somewhere in colorado with a cabin and a horse and a handsome ski instructor fiance and some really lucrative crafting business. And I'm taller. Wouldn't that be great?)

I could lie. I could write only in the endorphin induced euphoria that comes after a three hour cardiovascular workout listening to St. Elmos Fire on repeat. I could stop writing altogether.

Sure. But what good would that do anybody?

So I charge ahead with the whole real life thing, what a drag.

But oh, the rewards. The whole hearted, generous, honest responses. From strangers. From a boy I went to high school with fifteen years ago who I never spoke to; he donated money and wrote me a note: I'm sure many of us have had the same thoughts, but none of us could express it as well as you.

Or the girl I met randomly in a Missoula brewery who wrote: Sitting here in a coffee shop reading your blog for the first time, the truth of it echoes so resoundingly that I look around to see if the other patrons heard it too. 

People have written with stories, advice, suggestions, insights, jokes, thank yous, bitingly funny and blessedly grounded takes on the whole thing, their life and my life. I feel more connected than I have in a long, long time. And this (and it totally blows my mind) makes me feel elated. For hours. Ever day.

All this after just two posts.

Finally, there's the hope that my own stab at vulnerability is helping somebody else. That this little downswing in my life cracks through that isolation and uplifts somebody who needs it, even just a little bit. It is perfectly okay to be private about your experience, whatever it is. But it's always been easier for me, for some reason, to wear it on my sleeve, to throw it out there, and in fact I think it's my purpose on the planet.

I hope it helps. My message to you for whom this resonates is not: oh, you poor thing. My message is the two most important words in the english language: me too.

So maybe I need you. Maybe you need me. So what? That's the whole point.

(Need a little more convincing about how great it is to be vulnerable? Check it.)

*Some of these are dramatizations. FOR NOW.


winter storm girl said...

Absolutely amazing. What you're doing is so important. Helps me to strive every day to be a little less shy, a little more vulnerable to the world. Sending thanks from Colorado.


Angela said...

Me too.

Thanks Lina.

Kate said...

You are such a brave and beautiful person Melina! So many of us walk around with a mask on all the time, saying "it's fine" and "I'm ok" when you just want to SCREAM at the top of your lungs! So keep on screaming and sharing! You go girl :)

- Kate

Anonymous said...

I recognize that quote from the talk about shame by Dr. Brown. I'm very interested in her discussion about men and shame. How different would your experience be, and it's perception, if you were male?

There are a few people I'm going to send this post to who need to read your message. Thanks again, from a man who reads (most anonymously) and appreciates.

Heather Ann said...

That TED Talk is one of my favorites, but not as much as your blog is my absolute favorite. I love you, you're so strong, so beautiful. Your spirit is one of the best I've ever known. Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with the rest of us.


Nick Best said...

Well, I can offer to be your Colorado ski instructor. Cabin? ok, horse? sure, handsome? well..... yeah, why not.

No matter what happens, ever, you are and always be a first class rockstar.

Melina said...

Nick, you're very handsome.

Catherine said...

What a strong and powerful post. I have read Rene Brown's book last year and it has changed my view about vulnerability. In this age of blogging, I really, really appreciate the rawness I find here. I think it is awesome that we can be true and say that it hurts, it sucks and I feel like shit right now. Reading you makes me feel even stronger about sharing my own struggles about depression and anxiety... Take care!

Anonymous said...

This one deserves sharing. This one hit home.

Anonymous said...

You missing the big "ski season opener party" is not necessarily a dramatization. I did that once, at an event I had helped put together for several years. There is no shame. You are healing. You have to do these things... for you. It's all part of the process (or so I've been told).

Nici said...

I love and toast to:

After twenty seven years of living as an extremely open person, and four years of being an extremely open person who writes about herself, I no longer subscribe to that profoundly dangerous myth. I no longer equate vulnerability to weakness.

So maybe I need you. Maybe you need me. So what? That's the whole point.

How lucky are we that you share yourself so awesomely? Very.


Anonymous said...

Hope you feel better. Sharing the way you did in this post offers a bit more of a connection than in your others because it is even more personal and I like that. Please feel better soon because I love reading about your travel and adventures!

Brandi Shope said...

I love sharing and reading what others have to share. I have an aunt who once told me that my blogs read like her diary that she kept in high school and never showed... Implying I should keep my life private too. How Dull!

Thank you for boldly sharing.

Elizabeth said...

me too!!

Anonymous said...

When words fail me, I come here.You give the emotions that I can't seem to articulate an outlet. Thank you. Your words inspire, humor, and comfort me. Now, if only someone gave this girl a book deal!
Much love