When you reach a certain age, it seems that you’ve somewhat figured out how “life” works. You know how to support yourself, you’ve figured out how to pay your bills, and (unlike me), to file your taxes. You’ve created your patterns of what works for you; settled like sediment into the nooks and crannies of your idiosyncrasies. You know whether you prefer creamy or crunchy, white or red, and have been through enough relationships to have maybe given up on the possibility that it will ever happen to you and…consequently, found solace in the fact that peanut butter and Netflix is a perfectly acceptable way to spend a Friday night.
And the really deep needs. The ones you’ve been harboring for years, since childhood, maybe, but have tucked into the dark recesses of your psyche, memory and recall….those are the unmentionables. Those don’t fit into the category of “vulnerable” that you are willing to entertain.
We create these justifications in our minds—these pre-packaged stories that form safe, little barriers around our soft parts that indicate what we are capable of…what we are worthy of. We’ve figured out the bare minimum of what we require to sustain some semblance of control around our emotions and reactions, until ultimately you reach a breaking point that reminds you that that precious little shroud you’ve created is as thin as blown, Venetian glass.
That’s the funny thing about life: just when you think you’ve figured it out, the proverbial rug gets pulled out from underneath you and you are free-falling into a shit-storm of unfamiliar territory.
My most recent life epiphany started with a cold sore.
This was no ordinary cold sore. Unordinary because I never get cold sores. A cold sore of epic proportions. Golf. Ball. Proportions. Forget the fact that four days from the appearance of said cold sore, I had a date, with a guy I really, REALLY liked. Which was of no importance at this point—because this was not a vanity cold sore. This was an I-can’t-speak-because-my-upper-lip-resembles-goat-balls-kinda-cold-sore. This was also the week when as the owner of a new yoga studio, I had two teachers to fill the schedule.
One was me.
Every moment was planned, every meeting, every class…every photo shoot.
(Humility is a really good concept to wrap your head around from time to time…)
My sister, nine months pregnant, filled in for classes, brought me liquids I could drink through a straw, and the other teacher stepped up to the plate to fill in the gaps. And at the end of the week, this guy…he took me out to a mountain-top to watch a meteor shower (thank god for all that darkness), but still, he held my hand and held me close and when the sun rose, he looked me in the eyes and past the superficial flaws, even when I wanted to bury my face and disappear.
When a baby followed the cold sore, two weeks early, that was a life epiphany of a completely different color.
Sleepless nights in a hospital, only to go back to the studio to teach because again, you’re short-staffed, and then immediately back to the hospital, because you’re so in love with this tiny thing that you can barely stand time apart, and goddammit, why did you miss her first bath?
The fucking truth of the matter is that when you let go of your need to control; to bear the weight of it all on your single, shaky shoulders, you create all of this space to need each other. My family has rallied to support this baby and my sister. Teachers have rallied to be here for this studio, simply because they care, and the students have been so supportive even when things…(maybe?) don’t run like a well-oiled machine.
This man made me breakfast in bed, for seemingly, no apparent reason, and I almost barfed/bawled into my eggs, not necessarily because of the gesture, but the inherent sadness that NO ONE has ever done this for me before. In 37 years of life. I crumble under his kindness, question its longevity, and barely believe that I am enough.
But the most ironic thing of all, is when you let down all of your protective barriers, and you allow people to be there for you, to love you, it magnifies ten thousand-fold in your safe-guarded little heart, until you are skipping down the street, and your cheeks hurt because you smile so hard, and all you want to do is nice things for people all of the time because it feels goddamn good.
The hardest, most vulnerable thing we can do is to let love in.