It felt vulnerable to write about loving and sexing my husband in my last post. Admitting that I found, to my suprise, that I really kind of like him and need him felt exposing.
It felt more vulnerable than writing about bad sex, actually. That’s something that I’ve grown good at- not the being bad at sex part, that I’ve always done very naturally, but the writing about bad sex, relationship dysfunction and peril, pain.
It takes a certain amount of lady cojones to discuss the challenges of your marriage with strangers, published for all to judge, but honestly, I think it takes more courage to describe the joy.
I feel like it’s important to push through the nerves and describe the vivid, buoyant moments of joy and relief right now, while we’re all fearing for our lives, their lives, livelihoods, and life after….it feels like a revolution to attempt to embrace joy.
JOY \ ˈjȯi \
1a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : DELIGHT
b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion : GAIETY
2: a state of happiness or felicity : BLISS
3: a source or cause of delight
Instead of feeling shame for not suffering enough or living exclusively in fear for what might be now or is to come, I’m aiming to focus on the prospect of possessing what one desires, the good, the solid, the beautiful, the funny, the remarkable, the sweet, the moments that make me smile from my toes. They’re there. Sometimes remote, in a book or a movie or a conversation with a friend. Sometimes right in front of me in how my daughter’s hair smells, or her cracky deep voice and dropped “r’s,” or my son’s gorgeous smile when he tells a “good” joke or in writing a beautiful sentence, in watching a robin trot across our yard, or in great sex with my husband. It’s all so simple and so good. It causes delight.
And that’s OK. It fortifies my mental health to notice these moments and to breathe in them for a minute or two. Furthermore, mental health and physical health are closely linked. Keeping my brain and heart healthy is good for the rest of me, for the rest of us. So, this peace is with purpose.
I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. She is an expert on shame, vulnerability, and living wholeheartedly, unmasked, daringly. I love her direct writing/speaking style and her well-researched findings. She talks about how it feels vulnerable to lean into joy because you worry it exposes who you really are or what you want, or leaves you open for hurt. Also, that you can’t live a full, realized life without being open to all of that. One thing I found especially prescient right now- she interviewed people who had lost loved ones or who they themselves were ill, injured, or traumatized and they all asked that others fully love and enjoy and cherish their lives. Acknowledge the gifts.
It is important that we SEE and KNOW each other, LOVE each other hard. But also. No one who is hurting right now will be made well by my pain and fretting. No one who is afraid and alone and hungry will be made comfortable and satisfied by my drowning in anxiety and doom. It’s not for their benefit that I stay in manic-panic-misery.
Live and love your life so that you may be wholehearted and healthy enough to love others…also because it’s just the right thing to do.
Also, we don’t have to just wring our hands. In fact, don’t. It literally helps no one. We can help those who are hurting by doing actual, tangible, non-headache and stomach ache and panic attack- inducing things like….following the recommended social distancing/self-protection guidelines to prevent spreading illness, donating money to organizations that provide food to those without access, and who are supporting first-responers and patients. Checking in on those in isolation- call, text, FaceTime, etc. Make sure your neighbors have the supplies they need. Organize. Be graceful and extra giving and loving. We can do ALL that, but only if we are mentally and physically well.
Notice your joy. It’s akin to well-being.