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.
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.