Sometimes you have to look back, just to see how far you have come.

New Birth; I have come a long way   .00000

A Slow Death; 2009

            I don’t want to fight. I reign in my thoughts, like a turtle withdraws his head to fend off attack, carefully tucking in my pride. My words will not be right anyhow, I just want to crawl into bed and sleep so I can forget.

But he persists relentlessly and my silence infuriates him more than my words. I have played this game for years and never won. But here I am again. Stomach clenching, mind frantic, I am rendered helpless as he blocks my attempt to escape and locks the door.

Cornered, I scream vile obscenities, spewing anger. “Hit me, hit me, you crazy fucking bitch” his furious, baiting words come at me. Clenching my fists, I start a tug of war in my mind. If I hit him, he will kill me; if I do not, I die a slower death of submission.

Quickly, I escalate into a caged, wild animal desperate for escape; my bedroom serves as my cage, my husband, the captor.

I tightly squeeze my eyes shut and try to will it away. I open them and charge to the door but he follows my every move and I feel his hot breath on my face.

I am powerless.

My heart pounding, fear crawls up my spine. Hate fills every pore of my body.

I hate myself, maybe more than I hate him.

I am worthless.

Sobbing and pleading for mercy, I receive none. “I told you that you are crazy!” he screams at me. Defeated by these words, I think he is right, again.

Raw Vulnerability and Connection

“And I feel like I am naked in front of the crowd ‘cause these words are my diary screaming out loud and I know you’ll use them however you want to” Anna Nalik ~ Breathe

As this New Year begins I am thinking about how we often impose our perceptions on other people’s words and conceptualize those words into making sense in our world, rather than asking questions and really, deeply listening to one another. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is difficult enough, but feeling a need to meet others expectations really creates a wedge between true vulnerability and self-acceptance. To live abundantly and joyfully we need deep human connections, and truly connecting with one another requires raw vulnerability. How often do we miss the opportunity for human connection because we are afraid of “being naked in front of the crowd?” I have found my “naked” moments have revealed to me the ability of some open and self-accepting people to not only allow, but also sit comfortably with my vulnerability. On the flip side, some people’s inability to accept vulnerability comes from their own perceptions getting in the way of acknowledging that it is not about them and thus, insecurity ensues.

The desire for meaningful connection can lead us astray if we are trying to fit in and be accepted rather than being open, raw, and understanding. Trying to meet other’s expectations only creates a perpetual cycle of failure and missed opportunities for true human connection. It has been my experience that more often than not, people struggle with accepting raw vulnerability because they are equating it to their own self-worth instead of realizing it is not about them. With that said, it has been moments of raw vulnerability that has led me to the most meaningful relationships in my life. How very difficult that we have an innate need for self-protection of our ego and an innate need for connection, yet the two work like oil and water; they don’t mix. Which leads me to another quote that begs consideration:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So…Where the rubber meets the road. Again and again, and again.

As I sat in my biology class today feeling smaller and smaller, virtually shrinking in size with each obscure concept delivered in the lecture, I had a choice to make… walk out and quit, wait it out and cry in the car, or listen intently and ask questions.  Which did I choose? You are probably guessing I was brave and asked a million questions, but truth be told, I listened, waited, and cried in the car.  I have to admit, that going back to school in my mid 40’s has been a bit daunting, definitely scary, but oh so worthwhile.  The knowledge I have gained about myself has been life changing in many ways, but fear still has a nasty way of penetrating over and over again, just to test my mettle.

Back to biology…it has been a few years (ok, maybe a few decades) since I have even considered an atom, or molecule or anything that may be related to such things so I am a little fuzzy, or better yet, befuddled.  As my head spins, I fight the urge to scream and run and try to excerpt something from the lecture that will help me with my inevitable lab report.  A few short meditative breaths later, I do pick up some of the lecture and scribble furious notes that may be of use later if I am able to decipher the chicken scratch.

What have I learned?

That it is extremely difficult to overcome old fears (math and science).

That it is ok to admit you are overwhelmed.

That it is ok to not get an “A” in every class.

That speaking to the professor and explaining your conundrum is wise (usually).

That fear is often irrational (unless you are being chased by a bear, or the like)

and a way to excuse yourself from trying.

That if you just get a goodnight sleep, tomorrow will look brighter and science will still be hard, but doable.

Goodnight all.