Lessons in Vulnerability

Whoa, there. Somehow, my Facebook page has almost 400 new likes since last night- I’m always curious how that comes about. Err… Let me just straighten my glasses and smooth my pajama pants, here. Ahem. Must there always be more audience when I’m about to say something boring and personal? *Sigh* Lessons in Vulnerability it is, then… I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and I’ll have to admit I’m kind of pissed at it, or the Universe/my t connectivity to it all- just because there’s ” the power of vulnerability” doesn’t mean I WANT it. Fuck, dude. I’ve put it down since last week. So there.

I’m still feeling weak in a number of ways, and only signed on to feign some verbage to that effect, really. It’s been a week of weakness- I’m going to say a fortnight of fort nights is a good treatment. The kids and I have used the couch cushions in about every way possible recently, and watched a lot of Doctor Who, too. (We’re about halfway though series 3, 10th Doctor- if you’re even a wannabe Whovian, you know that information is what naturally follows…) I think The Doctor helps the kids realize how much of a human suit we’re in, and that life is so much bigger & complex than we’ll ever know. At the end of Season 2, ‘Doomsday’, I thought the kids and I might never hold each other tighter.

Last week, before all the need for hibernation and Netflix, I was feeling  weak and sad and flustered- which isn’t unusual- and decided to tackle my feelings in the most effective way I’ve found, so far, by finding the biggest hill I can and finding my way up it. Not unusual either, though about double my normal mileage as I was feeling doubly sad. Well, the math worked, in my head…

I was about 10 miles in, and feeling better emotionally and spiritually when I started throwing up. Repeatedly. (Darn you, body! I had been drinking water the whole time, but it doesn’t help after you throw it all back up, just FYI) I made my way back down as best I could, but had to be carried the last part, and picked up by ambulance, to boot.  Holy. Embarrassing. Hell. So much for my Wonder Woman persona… I have only felt more weak once in my life- and it was in the same hospital on the same day of the week where I was currently headed.

I am still not ready to (think about it enough to) put into words to how that triggered my heart, nevermind the rest of my senses. Whoa, I’m in an ambulance?! My kids! Someone’s got to get the kids. I don’t have time for this, I’m sure I’ll be fine, I look like an ass, I feel like shit, I just want to go home, I can’t be here right now, holy shit, I canNOT BE HERE RIGHT NOW. I don’t want this, I don’t want this, I. do. not. want. this... is about how that went, in my head. I heard something later about me arguing about needing my phone… (I have people to call if I’m going to be in the hospital, yo.) Yeah, no. It turns out that when you’re in an ambulance, your job is to lay there and try to answer the questions being asked of you, just FYI. It’s like grief in that way.

burn away

My mom got my kids, and my sisters met me at the hospital and stayed as long as they could. I had a zillion tests and pokes and prods and all kinds of stuff I won’t get into- the conclusion is that I have ovarian cysts, one of which they assume was large and ruptured when I was hiking, then coupled with anxiety and possible gallbladder problems? I don’t know. I don’t care, really, either. I’m taking it easy and drinking lots of herbal tea- I haven’t even had coffee or sugar in a few days, just to really help flush my system- but I’m not here to process what happened for me in body.

The Universe put its thumb on me and said, “BITCH, BE COOL!”  a la Samuel L. Jackson is what happened, really. I have a tendency to not stop until someone or something abso-fuckin-lutely makes me. Sometimes, this is a good thing. Sometiiiimes, notsomuch.

It got late, my sisters had to go, my phone had only a little battery- and I was left alone, in the very ER, the day, the hour (mercifully not the same room) even the minute that I was told I was never going to hear Patrick’s voice again.  Alone.

It felt like what I imagined those people on TV feel like when asked to lay down in spiders or snakes  for five minutes or jump off a building (with a bungee cord a safety net) if you’re afraid of heights for $10,000 or whatever. Grief is like an episode of Fear Factor with no prize, no one talking you through it, no safety nets or pre-staged situations. It’s just you, your empty space, and time, waiting to see how they interact.

I wanted company, sure.  Maybe it was pride, maybe I’d had too much vulnerability for the day, not to mention that making a phone call from the ER is a trigger, too. I desperately wanted distraction from my current situation, and the elephant in the room I couldn’t bear to mention- but in my solitude, I could begin to have the black hole in my sights. Eventually, there was just it and me in the ring… and maybe, maybe we could stop trying to kill each other for a moment.

I didn’t want anyone there because I didn’t want either of us scared off by each other- I have been trying with a vengeance to kill it for 8 months straight. I knew I couldn’t call anyone else to be there with me and my grief until I felt that I could be there with my grief, first. I needed to look at, to -be- myself and that darkness and just sit. I had to hold myself, my empty lap and perforated heart in a hospital bed and feel fucking sorry for my shitty situation. So I did.

A grief observed
I’ll see if I can crop/update this later. I’m too tired/don’t care right now.


  1. […] I had no idea what a gift those words would be to me- the balm it gives me to have that unmemorable day and choice locked into word form in some dusty corner of the internet. It gives me comfort like no other to know full well in boring detail how much I showed my love for Patrick when he was here- and how much I love my other children, too. I love having a way to look back on the minutia of my past life and finding small- or huge- joy there, even in my times of struggle. It helps me to see my progress, too… I can see my own writing and heart change from the work of trying to excavate love and memories from brutal numbness and ache, to finding comfort in matter patterns, recording small memories and getting lessons in vulnerability. […]


  2. I have never commented before…just wanted to say I love everything yiu write. Its like you are talking to me. Drs killed my 10 month old and we could do nithing….I couldn’t even hold him as he died cuz they were all iver him doing all the wrong things too late. Three days bwfore he was fine…never sick a day in his life. And he was my rainbow afyer losing my first son (stillborn). Some days I don’t want to get out of bed. I have two more boys, ages almost three and 15 mo. But I think of my angel Kirin daily…what you write about grief helps me so much I wanted to personally thank you. What you went through above is so terrible but I can so relate…why are these sweet babies stripped from us? Whay are we made to remember the pain and go through it daily? I don’t know, but its all I have now so thays what I do. I love all my children and try to be the best mommy I can to those here with me….and I know you do the same. Xoxo mama!


  3. Right on, Ashleigh and Julie.
    Grief is such a long process. I, too, have been processing my dad’s death and that was nearly 25 years ago!

    You have faced amazing trials and much of that work is your work, but know that so many of us are here, grieving and loving w you. You are an amazing soul.
    Self care!!! It’s what I must work on, too;)


  4. That comment is suppose to end “eclipsed only by the absence of pat pat. Then In time….you will survive. You will heal. just with a huge jagged gnarly scar. the universe believes ur strong enough to conquer all ur hills and mountains, i do too.


  5. Oh mama! The universe is such a tricky bitch. round and round in karmic cycles we spin learning lessons over and over again until we uncover some random epiphany and integrate it into our lives. why are ur lessons so fucking hard!? It breaks my heart for you! But those of higher mind walk a higher and harder path and whrn we diverge we fall so much further and the path becomes so much rockier. it seems like torture. alone to face ur grief where it began. but i believe some small aspect of it is on ur side. it is ur biggest hill to climb emotionally. If you can survive that. if you can survove that pain which is only eclipsed by the absence of ypu will survive. pat pat. then


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