During my last pregnancy, I loaded 50lb sacks of feed into the car by myself. I milked our goats by hand up until three days before Eivin’s birth. After my c-section, I came home and vacuumed the house the same day. Being a hardass was never the point; these things needed to get done, and I wasn’t about to ask someone else to do them for me.
There are a lot of things that I really don’t have any issues with. Off-color jokes, open wounds, the mechanics and various functions involved in birth (both human and animal.) Nudity doesn’t bother me in the slightest, neither do bodily functions and normal human urges. I can easily discuss a lot of things that would make most women blush at the very least. This is just how I am, how I’ve always been. I try not to make people uncomfortable but I don’t always succeed.
On the flip side, there are some things I just don’t do. Some are natural, some have been acquired through experience. Normal crap that everyone picks up and carries with them as they go through life; little lessons that you hold onto in order to continue learning from them. Two major ‘don’ts’ for me: trusting people and, especially, allowing myself to become vulnerable to someone else besides my husband.
My mother’s death put me into a spiral that just kept going deeper. When one thing turned into another and I was only getting worse, I finally accepted that I needed some sort of help. I contacted our family doctor and was referred out for more extensive diagnostics. I started therapy. A friend reached out and offered help, which I reluctantly accepted. I went against my written-in-stone tenets and did exactly what I never do- I trusted. Desperate to no longer be plagued by guilt and nightmares and self-loathing, I lowered my defenses.
The doctors did what doctors do- they threw pills at the monsters and tried to scare them back under the bed. Therapy pulled them out into the open, kicking and screaming, and forced me to beat them into submission until my knuckles were bloody. Little by little I’m conquering those demons as best I can; I know I will always be damaged, and am working on accepting that. All the therapy in the world can’t erase the past, can’t repair what has been irreparably severed. I get that. What I can’t figure out is how to- or even if one should- ever allow oneself to be vulnerable again.
People are people; faulted, fallible, easily swayed and endlessly distracted. Prone to misgivings and misinterpretations. Sometimes things derail. Life is funny like that, a constant flurry of closing doors and opening windows. You take what positivity away from it that you can, and you go on. But recently I’ve been left wondering just how a person can bring themselves to ever trust again after the deepest depths of their pain have been made into a sort of twisted form of mutual masturbation by people who claimed they actually cared; who not only gained that trust, but directly asked for it- no misgivings, just mind games from day 1.
The most perfectly polished apple, gleaming in the light, but with a rotting core being rapidly devoured by worms. A thin veneer that masks the chaos that erupts behind closed doors, an overflowing hatred loftily explained away as ‘unease.’ So palpable that it was painful, an overwhelming cloud that burned. Emergency exits conveniently disguised as ‘disclosures,’ to be rapidly utilized as desired. Stagnant, stinking water under the bridge now; life has gone on, just as it needed to. But where does it go from here?
When you go against your better judgement and trust people who you never should’ve trusted, who can you possibly blame besides yourself? You helped author the situation; you walked into it and let the show play out around you. You loaded the gun yourself; slid back the safety, cocked the hammer. You sharpened the blade and bared your skin. You invited your own disemboweling, your own gaping chest wound. You asked for your pain the second you let your defenses down.
My therapist doesn’t believe that a person truly can live without becoming vulnerable to others. I disagree; I’ve done it for years. Its isolating, but it’s comfortable. It’s safe. I’d give anything to go back to being safe again, the way I was a year ago. I was stressed, I was scared, but my deepest pain was mine. It wasn’t cheap, it wasn’t funny. It was a weapon only I could aim at myself.
So where DO you go from here? You look back on your stupidity, you laugh at yourself and resolve to become invincible. You steel yourself to trade isolation for the assurance that you’ll never have your vulnerability used against you ever again. You smile wryly, admit that they got the best of you that time, and become harder; as hard as you have to be. You learn from your mistake and you move forward, leaving whatever needs to be left as long as it’s on your terms. You open your arms and accept it, and you never let anyone near you.
I would rather my back break under the weight than to ever allow someone else that close to it ever again.