vulnerability

I have been writing about vulnerability for two and a half years.

I began research during a pregnancy that ended with EE in our arms but not breathing, drafted my way through the worries of J’s pregnancy with Bram, wrote on through that first year of parenting wherein the precarity of loving someone that much is almost unbearable, and began to revise as Saul was placed in our family, only to be taken back by his birth mother one month later. Just as I began my final round of revisions, I got pregnant again. The next day, my dad passed away. What I’m saying is: this work has been with me through some things. And three weeks from tonight, I will put it down for awhile.

This is (as my dad would say) a good good thing. We need some space from one another. Some breathing room. And in truth: I’m not sure I’d advise someone to write about vulnerability. The universe seems to take it as an invitation. Still, I don’t know who I’ll be on the other side of this work. I sure as hell won’t be the girl I was when I started it. I have less optimism than she had. I am more cautious than she ever was. But then: I have a son. She wasn’t a mom. I am a mom.

Anyway, I’m tired tonight, and I guess I wanted to reach out so that I wouldn’t just feel alone there. I am tired from the ten thousand hours I’ve labored with this project, from the lessons it has had to teach, which are heavy. I’m tired from fourteen months of not sleeping through the night. I’m tired with grief; I miss my dad terribly, and I worry for the boy who isn’t Sauly. I’m tired from the start of early pregnancy exhaustion and from the work of staying detached for fear of trusting this being inside of me. For fear of trusting myself with him or her. I’m just tired. And I’m feeling so fiercely, desperately, needily in love with what I have: my wife, our son, my mom, our family and friends. The byproduct of spending years thinking about precarity: it all feels so damn fragile.

Music helps. Just give me one thing that I can hold onto. To believe in this livin’ is just a hard way to go.

And A man needs something he can hold onto. A nine pound hammer or a woman like you.

And There’s no use in trying to deal with the dying, though I cannot explain that in lines.

And the little boy asleep upstairs with my beautiful wife. He helps too, and so does she. None of you warned me how much it was possible to love. They are, as the cliche goes, the sun and the moon. Two days ago, Bram climbed into my lap, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “mama.” Then he smiled. He’s clingy in the mornings, and so am I. We have a thing in the mornings. We cling. Then we find our footing on the day. He is just so much joy. And we get to parent him. I get that privilege. And with it, all that risk.

Maybe I’ll write about something happy next. Or you know: at least something less honest.

These are my great great loves on the day J brought Bram into the world. So, yeah. Vulnerability.

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9 thoughts on “vulnerability

  1. Rest comes soon. You’re almost there and you’re not alone. We all stand behind you. We rock with you back and forth, back and forth, as you labor here. You got this.

  2. This is a wonderful post…I find you so brave in being able to talk about vulnerability, and being vulnerable for how long you have been. You and J have suffered, loved, and remained strong through all of this. I hope one day to have a family like you two.

  3. All I can think of right now, at this hour, is St. Judy saying, “we’re undone by each other; and if we’re not, we’re missing something.” I think that the feelings we get from loving people and losing people are all part of this huge, strange family of emotions; of fierce devotion, and keeping people close in person or through stories. I remember the first time you told me about _Precarious Life_ in Water Street shortly after the accident in Z’s family. That short description of the book you gave me then, and my later experiences reading it and talking through it with you, totally defined the way I understood and walked through that grief. And I am so grateful for that. I have thought so many times how incredibly grateful I am to have you and J (and now B, and now love child!) in my life – for helping me through the hard times and helping me to think and speak through them too. So, I guess all I can say is that I’m grateful that you’ve done a two and a half year project on vulnerability. And I believe that how valuable as these ideas have been to me is how valuable as they will be to your readers. And that is a lovely thing.

  4. *Maybe I’ll write about something happy next. Or you know: at least something less honest.*

    When I’m fighting depression I often wish that I can honestly answer the question “How are you?” by saying “I’m very well thanks” or “I’m excellent”. When happiness and honesty coincide then you have the perfect moment.

  5. Never never feel a need to be less honest here in this space. I think that is exactly what we all treasure most about the blogging space, the freedom to be honest. I hope that maybe the exhaustion feels just a little less heavy now that you’ve put it all down here for a bit. You have a lot to be tired from so go right ahead and acknowledge it and lean into it. We will all be here to listen.

  6. You said that no one told you how much it was possible to love — that may be true, but I will say that it just continues to grow. Wait until you can have full conversations and hear B’s ideas and thoughts and wishes and plans for the future and that he never wants to leave. And when you tell him that he might want to live on his own some day and it is okay to keep that as an option, he agrees, but only if you have houses connected by a tunnel. Wait until he can’t wait to share his chocolate with you or make you special bookmarks for you. Really. There is nothing like it. I suspect you will enjoy having an extra year before starting a tenure track job — you will have time to enjoy your kids and your wife and collect yourself before taking on a new challenge. I wish I had taken another year (I had one more year of funding that I didn’t take) — it was such a whirlwind and so stressful to move so quickly. Good luck with these last weeks before the defense!

  7. You’re not alone. Your specific experiences are unique, but the emotions have been felt by others. We’re out here, near and far wishing you days full of love and light. Happy doesn’t always mean less honest (though I get where you’re coming from). You have a lot to look forward to and a lot to enjoy now. Try not to let the darkness overcome that.

  8. All of the honesty here, both happy and sad, have gotten me through some troubling times of my own. That and my caring for you is what keeps me coming back and reading. I hear you on the wanting to post more happy things, but sometimes that isn’t honest, it isn’t your reality. You have so much to enjoy and I know you enjoy it every day – its evident every where. You are not alone, and I have always appreciated every word you have written.

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