Vulnerability is beautiful, Until it is me

This post has been in my head for months now. I’m not sure how it will land on the page and where it will go. But, it’s been inside, trying to form coherency and come out.
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There is a very vivid moment amidst many foggy others in the first two weeks after our #3 was born. Yet another friend was sitting across from me. She had just fed the big kids, brought me lunch, put them down for naps, cleaned up the kitchen and floors, and probably a host more that I’ll never know, and we had a space-filled moment to chat. She has been facing perhaps the lowest point and largest challenge life may have ever or will ever bring. Relationships torn apart, betrayal, loss, hurt, need. And, it was in that conversation, propped up in bed with a newborn beside me, that I realized vulnerability is ugly.
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I actually think vulnerability and community is beautiful. I have praised it. I have yearned for it. I have seen it in others and marveled at it. When others have hit a low, fallen apart, needed help, I have loved seeing how community rallies around them. It is like a web of arms, locked at the elbows, not allowing the friend (or the stranger) to fall out. It is the net. I have stepped in to help, to be there, to be a part of the web. It’s in my hard-wiring to love the hard work of serving, and there is almost nothing more energizing to me than to know I contributed to the support of a friend or a not-yet-friend in need. Then, I step back and I look at the web, and it is stunning. Masterfully weaved by loving others around the friend in need. And, I admire that one in need—for asking for help, for accepting it, for being open to receive.
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But then, it was me.
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I was the one who needed to be caught. Who needed the arms locked around and under me. And a lot of them.
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Guy gone. Mom suffering. Family adding. Business growing. Little ones needing. All. At. Once.
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When others reach out for help, I don’t think of them as weak, but when it’s on me, I think that for sure I can handle one more thing. And I usually can. When finally I did allow a bigger value (survival of a newborn while keeping at least an ounce of sanity) to trump my tenacity and recognized the need for support, I never knew how hard it would be to keep asking, over and over. To face possible rejection with each ask—and that rejection did happen.
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It was logistically insane at times, especially in those first weeks after baby-sweetness-but-cries-like-its-a-competition was born. Every hour covered by a puzzle of plane rides, hand offs, meal planning, phone numbers, text messages. Knowing but not really knowing all the sacrifice that each of those who stepped up was taking on themselves. And having to just accept that.
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And, I had to learn. Learn to accept offers. Learn to allow others to see the lowest. Learn to let others make decisions for me. Learn to like my decaf whatever way it came. Learn to let go of my kids’ routines a bit. Learn to allow others to have free reign in my space. As I learned, as I accepted, as I allowed, it got easier. The whole thing got easier. I mean, by the end of the six weeks of post-baby support, when I finally got back into my kitchen, I could not have cared less that I had no idea where my knives were.
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As I learned, I also discovered. Discovered depth in places I never expected. Discovered the gift of friendship with extended family and long-time friends and the newest unexpected friends. Discovered there is freedom in asking because it ends in receiving at a place of true need. Discovered the willingness of others to play the invisible, unglamorous roles. Running to the airport, restocking peanut butter, bathing kids, dropping off fruit, playing dress-up, sweeping the floor (again), bouncing and bouncing and bouncing a baby, making coffee, organizing tiny clothes, washing dish after dish. Discovered the raw and the real of community as it is Designed to be.
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So as I sat in reflection and gratitude with my friend, in the sleepy newborn moments of my bedroom, that’s what I said. Vulnerability and community are so beautiful when it’s not me at the center. But now it’s me at the center, and it doesn’t feel so glamorous.
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I guess it’s not that vulnerability is ugly. It just feels that way from the inside of the web. It is raw and open and messy. And it’s hard. But from the outside, and from its fruit, it is beautiful. Everything Love is meant to be.
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Even when it is me.
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4 thoughts on “Vulnerability is beautiful, Until it is me

  1. Wow! Thanks for writing about this, Becky.

    Vulnerability and community are so beautiful when it’s not me at the center. But now it’s me at the center, and it doesn’t feel so glamorous. — YES!

    I guess it’s not that vulnerability is ugly. It just feels that way from the inside of the web. It is raw and open and messy. And it’s hard. But from the outside, and from its fruit, it is beautiful. Everything Love is meant to be. — YES! YES! YES!

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