Monthly Archives: March 2015

On Vulnerability and Grief

Thursday, I spent way too much fucking money on parking and took Fiona into Boston to the Children’s Museum.  She wore her blue and magenta Anna tutu and marched proudly and fervently past the businessmen at Atlantic Wharf.  She and I, hand in hand, walked past the Tea Party Museum, and past the giant Milk Bottle.  At the end of the trip, she attempted the three-story indoor climbing structure that I had once attempted as a 5 year old.

I remember that trip in flashes.  I remember driving past the milk bottle, I remember looking through that climbing structure to another kid, and I remember that shadows exhibit where your silhouette would be frozen against a bright blue, red or green background.

The funny thing is perspective – I remember that climbing structure fondly.  My mother, however, recounts a different story: halfway through, I started screaming because I went too high and there were too many big kids and get me the fuck out of there, NOW.  My dad had to crawl up, all 5’11” of him, and get me.

Back to Thursday.  I’m standing between two of the pillars of the structure, waving frantically to Fiona, reassuring her everything’s ok, as what seems like three thousand 6 year olds come somersaulting over her.  She has this angry/panicked look on her face, like, “fuck you, I’m terrified right now, but I’m going up!”  She doesn’t let me coax her down.  She comes down on her own accord.  I get my mother’s perspective now.  And I am my Dad at the same time.

Sometimes I hate being a vulnerable idealist.  Idealists get such a bad, hippie rap.  But a part of me is my Dad.  I expect people to be as kind to me as I am to them, and when they’re not – when I’m attacked for no reason other than the other person’s “stuff” – I retreat.  Or attack.  And I hate being vulnerable sometimes in the public sphere – I judge it constantly as borderline or crazy – but, since I’ve gotten sober, I’ve found it to be instrumental in my sobriety and in connecting to others.  I would venture to guess that it even helps others.  But it still leaves me with mornings wondering if I’m too crazy for society.

One of these unrealistic expectations is that people will be nice to you while you’re still grieving.  That, my friends, does not happen.  People think you’re over it after the memorial service.

Today I posted a status about a dream.  A fucking dream I had.  And it involved a political figure.  I asked for no political comments.  And someone of an opposing party started to make snarky comments like, “But what does Fiona think?  Is she dressing up with you in your wedding dress?  Is she forcing you to watch Tangled over and over again?  Is she making him swim in a lake of leeches?”  I couldn’t tell if the person was making fun of my pride about Fiona, making fun of those leechy liberals, or just drunk at 9 in the morning.

A couple of weeks ago, another peer in college disagreed vehemently on a petition I posted regarding a woman on death row who had gotten someone to kill her husband, but had turned things around and gotten active in the penal system helping others. Now – I actually had no opinion on this either way.  In my head, I was thinking, “Wow.  Should we challenge our justice system and turn this around?  Is that really ok?  Or is there something to be said for people who have changed?”  But the person assumed I was pro-letting the person off, asked me if there was anything substantial to the article, and when I told him I wasn’t in the mood to debate, posted the following status,

“Don’t post your beliefs to Facebook if you’re not willing to defend them.”

EXCEPT IF YOURE FUCKING GRIEVING, ASSHOLE –

is what I wanted to scream to both of them.  But I didn’t.  I blocked them instead.  Because –

a very wise woman taught me this:  Full stop.  Best expression I ever heard.  When someone doesn’t respect what you need, or is rude to you, do not tolerate it.  I used to be afraid of doing this – because my Dad would utilize this tactic to the max and cut people out who were important.  But I see the importance of it now.

There is so much in my life to deal with on a daily basis.  Recovery from an eating disorder.  Recovery from alcoholism.  Partial ownership of a counseling clinic.  Motherhood.  Marriage.  Beautiful friends I try to keep in touch with.  Grief.

I simply have no room for disrespect, or hurt, or anything less than compassion right now.  Some may see that as black and white; I know better.  It’s self-preservation.  It’s preservation of my marriage and my daughter.  It’s preservation of my career and of the friends who are compassionate to me despite my tendency to be over-vulnerable and grieving.  They aren’t threatened by me; they walk this path alongside of me.  Sisters and brothers who get imperfection and the knowing that we all grow if live and let live and cradle each other when we’re hurting.

Ugh, I said I’d never be this person who posts about other people, but I can’t take the shit anymore.  Reminds me too much of high school.  Plus, my Dad always told me to give ’em hell.