On sickness, vulnerability, and getting out of my own way. Again.

On sickness, vulnerability, and getting out of my own way. Again.

Hi. I’m sick. And not the “cough cough” “achoo achoo” “oh, poor baby” sick. No, I’m the crawl-into-bed want-my-mommy-to-bring-me-chicken-noodle-soup-and-rub-my-back kind of sick. This kind of sickness doesn’t hit me frequently, but when it does, it tries to knock me flat on the floor.

But, I’m resilient. And I don’t take no shit from a bad cold. In other words, I seem to think I’m Super Woman and can continue to live my life as normal, work as normal, go out as normal, despite hacking up a lung and feeling like my head is going to explode into smithereens. NEWS FLASH: maybe Lauren should rest.

I digress.

Last night, in all my sicktitude, my wonderful boyfriend tried to “take care of me.” He offered to cook dinner, make me tea, snuggle on the couch, asked me if I needed anything. I bet you can guess how this went down. I, of course, said no to all of the above. I made myself a hot batch of TheraFlu, told Jeremy he could stop by on his way to work to show off my apartment, I insisted on making dinner (burgers, pico de gallo, the works), I cleaned the litter box, the bathroom, the hallway, and then I just about collapsed.

Why? Why didn’t I let him help?

This was the first time I actually felt vulnerable around him. And honestly, it scared the begeebies outta me.

I always have my shit together. I’m always on top of things, organized, prepared, energetic. When I’m sick, I’m just not any of those things. I feel weak and helpless and cloudy and like I just want a big giant hug.

I know it’s ok to not always be on, but it’s hard for me to think about it — I like being able to take care of myself and I’ve never been one to rely on anyone for anything. I’m beginning to realize that perhaps this intense desire to maintain independence is actually crippling.

As I stood in the kitchen, the burgers on the stove, resting my elbows on the counter and my head in my hands, my eyes filled with tears. Why can’t I just let him help? Why can’t I just be vulnerable.

It stems from a deeply rooted fear of losing this independence. The fear that with each brick he knocks out of my wall, I’m chipping away at my self-sufficiency. Each step I let him in, is a leap pushing me out. The idea of of being completely naked, void of control, is not something I’d like to test drive.

Before the boyfriend, I’d been single for almost three years, relying on no one but myself. And it’s funny — just three months before I met him, I wrote another post about how much I love my independence and how I’d comfortably settled into my singledom. I was genuinely happy and completely fulfilled, living with total autonomy.

As I wrote in the August blog post, “With this independence comes a shift in traditional gender roles. I don’t need anyone around me — I am perfectly content by myself. I don’t need to be taken care of — I can take care of myself. I don’t need someone to pay for things — I make enough money to live comfortably. I don’t need anything.”

I also sternly wrote, “That doesn’t mean that I don’t want companionship and friendship and someone to get close with. However, if that person comes into my life, I will not compromise my independence.”

Now that I’ve found that companionship and I’m slowly getting close with someone, I find myself struggling with the latter. How much is too much compromise? Where’s the happy medium? Is letting my boyfriend take care of me when I’m sick really me losing some of my independence?

This is me, getting in my own damn way.

I’ve convinced myself that being even a little vulnerable means that I will eventually (and automatically) become a LOT vulnerable. But the truth is that part of being in a relationship is opening up enough to another person — feeling comfortable being vulnerable. What scares me most is that we do this knowing it might end, that nothing is necessarily forever. But we do this because in the end, connecting and sharing yourself with someone, even for a short time, is better than not at all.

Being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing. And being myself — flaws and all — doesn’t make me any less independent or capable of being self-sufficient. It just makes me human. And even Super Woman is human. Kind of. :)

14 Comments

  1. If you are truly independent, you will always be independent. You do not lose your personality, just because you’re in a relationship.

    But as a self-professed independent gal, I feel you. It is hard to be vulnerable to MOST people and that’s okay. I think admitting it and recognizing it is part of it.

    I actually wrote a post about independence, that I think no one is truly independent. We didn’t get anywhere without the help of others and that relying on people (you let people rely on you, right?) isn’t BAD. We still do our own thing, march to our own beat and live our best life, but having people along the way shows a life well lived.

    Here’s the post: http://smallhandsbigideas.com/inspiration/are-we-ever-really-independent/ I think you might relate :)

    Reply
    • Absolutely. I wrote (and linked) to the previous article I wrote about being independent regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not. Being dependent on someone else is really never a good thing. But I do think there’s a difference between being dependent and leaning on someone.

      Your post is great and I can definitely relate! Gave me a totally different perspective on independence than I had even considered before!

      I think this incident was more about vulnerability, opening up and feeling comfortable letting my guard down after it’s been up for so long. And that, of course, spirals into “well, what am I giving up by letting this person in” instead of looking at all the positive things that can come from it. :)

      Reply
  2. Hope you feel better soon!

    Being able to let that guard down is part of how comfortable I am in my relationship.

    Reply
    • Thanks! I’m definitely working on it :)

      Reply
  3. A) Being sick totally blows. You’ll feel better soon. When I get sick, it’s serious but I rarely get it so it’s kind of a body thing saying “slooooow dooowwwn”

    B) Falling for someone means letting go enough that they’re there to catch you. Sometimes, you fall right smack on your face and one day, (hopefully a long time from now) you may have to learn to walk again. Letting our “better half” take us by the hand is a complete challenge and difficult if we still remember what it felt like to learn how to walk after our last “fall”

    …but falling is so worth it and one day, we won’t fall anymore and we’ll have our soul mate. No one can tell you who that person is but we keep falling until we find that one and that’s gonna be a beautiful day.

    Love you :)

    PS: Thanks for writing. MORE MORE MORE!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Adam. I agree. I like this sentence the most, “Letting our “better half” take us by the hand is a complete challenge and difficult if we still remember what it felt like to learn how to walk after our last “fall”” You nailed it. I’d finally figured out how to walk again.

      Thanks for your endless support :) LOVE YOU

      Reply
  4. I really love this…and you…and how aware you are of WHERE you are. I think you will always be independent, and confident in yourself alone…and I also think that as each day goes by you will become even more confident in your relationship and that you can let down your guard and put the burgers down and let him make you soup and take care of you because he 1. cares and 2. you deserve it.

    I’m learning this too :)

    Reply
    • Thank you, Liz. You’ve been such a big help — it’s always good to know someone else is going through something similar! You’re the best, Doll! xoxo

      Reply
  5. There is so much truth in this. I think that’s when the best things happen to us – when we’re not expecting or looking for them.

    It’s hard, to give up that control – hell, to give up that FREEDOM. Because, let’s face it, being in a relationship can be/is great, but there’s something so refreshing about not having to worry about what somebody else is going to think if you make eye contact with a cute guy, even if nothing comes of it. You know? But sometimes, those little sacrifices are just so worth it.

    Reply
    • Glad I tricked WordPress and got your comment up here :) You’re totally right — “sometimes, those little sacrifices are just so worth it.” It’s hard to always see that, but I do believe it’s true!

      Reply
  6. Oh, lordy. This sounds so much like me it’s kind of creepy. I’m all about holding on to my independence with an iron fist, not that anything has really come up to challenge the status quo as I’ve been single for, eh, five years now (yikes)… but I can only imagine how incredibly challenging it will be when/if someone comes along. I hate being vulnerable. Actually this is probably WHY I’ve been single for so long.. it’s going to take a hell of a guy to make me relinquish this comfortable life I’ve settled into. I don’t even know what my point is. I just see a lot of myself in this post, I guess. :)

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Kelly! You may just be surprised…. After being single for three years, I thought it was going to be absolutely impossible to integrate someone else into my life. It’s actually been surprisingly easy — of course, it has everything to do with it being the right person, and that’s kind of how I determined he was the right person in the first place. This was the first incident where I “freaked out,” and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But as long as he’s patient, and I’m working on it, I think it’ll be worth it!

      It’s ALWAYS good to know we’re not alone in the world :)

      Reply
  7. Haha honey, I think you’re crazy :) No, I’m teasing, you’re not crazy – you’ve worked hard to learn to cope and be fulfilled in a world where you can’t predict who will come and who will go. That’s a gift and a hard thing to do. I’m proud of you :)

    That said, I love when I have a someone. The problem is, I’m too damn picky to let anyone into my little world that I’ve become so proud of and worked so hard for. But, if you found someone that fits, by all means let him in. We all want to need and be needed. And yes, if you let him in, then it will be 1000% harder someday if he goes. But the funny thing is, it will be hard anyways. You want to build something that will be hard to lose – that takes courage.

    I’m proud of you and I love reading your writing. I hope you’re feeling better :) xox

    Reply
  8. i am also love reading this kind of articles ..

    Reply

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