My husband, Mike, is the one with a concussion, stitches and cracked teeth, but I feel like I got hit by a Mega Bus. Not one to ignore an opportunity to make someone else’s crisis about me, here I go…
I keep having flashes of seeing Mike unconscious on the stairs, bleeding from his head. I burst into tears at random times. I feel a sense of dread and alternate between feeling patient and loving with the girls and incensed at their constant noise. Rhys (4) dropped her doll over the stairs to Ava (9) yesterday, and I nearly lost my shizz. When I come home after being away for a couple hours, I’m scared I’ll find Mike on the floor again or dead.
This is the price of being attached, of loving. I hate this price, always have. I hate that once we open ourselves to love, we stand to lose. We are vulnerable to hurt; to the whims of the world, of life, of nature. After our daughter’s bike accident last fall, I thought God and I had a deal. Apparently, I still have some learning to do.
Coincidentally, before Mike’s accident I was reading the book, Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor, about a young woman whose husband died after hitting his head in a freak skateboarding accident. She was pregnant at the time of her husband’s death and somehow wrote this heartbreaking, compelling memoir in her spare time. Reading Natalie’s poignant words was helping me feel grateful for my husband; appreciative of his simply being in the world.
I have so much relief and gratitude that I’m not in the author’s shoes, yet at the same time I feel panic that something horrible will happen. And I have to be on guard. As if.
Life may be trying to teach me that I’m really not in control. I surrender. Sort of. I’ve been holding on too tight, walking in terror much of the time. Instead of trying to control my terror, I want to learn to embrace it, live with it, give it a seat at the table, but not the head of the table.
I want my terror to serve me, rather than the other way around. I don’t know what benefits embracing my terror will offer, but I want to find out because pushing it down isn’t working and controling offers no benefits other than pause and paralysis.
My brain tells me I don’t want to open my heart any more, yet I will. I will because I am the hero of my own story and the hero opens up her heart and reaps the benefits and the sorrows. Life didn’t work any better for me when I played it safe. Life didn’t deliver the promises I longed for until I was willing to be vulnerable. Now that I have those promises, I have to learn to live with this fear of loss.
I’ve wanted all the pluses of attachment – joy, love, excitement, a heart bursting with life and joy. Got ‘em. But safety isn’t one of those promises. Is love still worth it? I think so. I hope so.
What is the alternative? A life of searching for an attachment that won’t leave me hurt or aching? I didn’t feel the same vulnerability all those years I was yearning for a spouse and children. As long as I was longing, I was in control. Once attachment set in, I was toast; no longer guarded against pain and fear and hurt.
As I think about the Natalie Taylors of the world and all the parents and loved ones of the victims of Newtown, the Brazilian nightclub fire and the daily accidents, shootings, diseases and the like, I’m reminded of the saying, “Love is not for the faint of heart.”
And for me, today, there is no acceptable alternative. There are, however, helmets. And we’ll be sporting these beauties at all times from now on.