LOFB - MoniAre all men weak because they own a pair of super sensitive balls, that everyone knows they can kick and probably bring the dude to his knees? Of course not!

Why then do we consider ourselves weak for showing other kinds of vulnerability? We need to see the strength in setting our personal boundaries out on Front Street so that people know what they are and that kicking them will have consequences.

In my day job as a public librarian, I deal with some scary shit. You probably wouldn’t expect that, but it’s true (seriously, my fellow librarians and I are considering writing a book). The other day, some enormous, gang-member looking lady went nuts on me, for no other reason except she was crazy that she didn’t like “That face…or that walk…I mean look at her, she’s such a bitch!”

The problem was, my own depression had been talking really loud that day. Those of you who suffer from it know what I mean. It was telling me all sorts of shitty things about my own self-worth. Add that to the fact that the insults Ms. Ghetto was throwing really triggered my inner teenage girl who had always been bullied because of the way that I walk (seriously, I have so many easier traits to pick on!).

Long story short, I handled her extremely well (if I do say so myself) but her antics had taken place in front of every single staff member on duty. I was mortified and felt like everyone else was enjoying my humiliation. The minute she was out the door I turned on my heel…and burst into tears.

Public crying is not my thing. I’m normally known for being a bad-ass, loud mouth bitch. In my nearly decade-long stint at this library, nobody had ever seen me act vulnerable, even in situations way worse than this one. And you know what? The response was amazing. When I thought nobody “had my back,” I found out it was only because they didn’t realize I wanted help. Showing my vulnerability led to better communication with the entire staff about what each of us needs from each other.

Not that we all grabbed guitars and sang fucking ”Kumbaya,” but you get the picture.

The same thing happened when our fabulous Noa showed her own vulnerable side recently. With all the trolls on the Internet, that could’ve gone seriously sideways. Instead, we got to restore just a smidge of our faith in humanity.

We need to let our guard down, every once in awhile, to prove that we are still human. Like shouting tagging in a friend when we’ve had enough, or walking into cage match fights without wearing a cup. Wait, scratch that last one. That’s not good. Unless you don’t want to have babies, in which case free birth control.

You know what, though? I haven’t been completely honest: I am a bit embarrassed that people I work with every day saw me break down like that, but what is the worst that could’ve happened? Even if it hadn’t turned out well, I will borrow another quote from Noa and say: “Fuck it, I’ll do better next time.”

About Moni:

I am a mommy, writer, and librarian extraordinaire. I love reading and writing, and reading about writing, but find that numbers are hard.

When I’m not being wordy, I can usually be found with my family, which includes my daughter, Chuckles the Warrior Princess, Duke, the shiba inu/criminal mastermind, and long-suffering Hubby Joe; or rolling around on the floor with strangers under the guise of practicing Brazilian jiu jitsu. Oh, and being serenaded with the song “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol himself, which is a true story that actually happened because the connection we share is real.

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422f8eb49191dec21a36521a2ebb6618It’s not super tough for me to open up (mostly) to other people. I think I have a pretty fucked up life story and I don’t mind sharing it if people will learn from my mistakes and those others made. I don’t mind being an example. I don’t mind being the first to share if it means it gives others the courage to share as well.

Vulnerability with others is not the hard part for me.

It’s vulnerability with myself.

We’ve talked before about my OCD and anxiety that tell me I need to be working my ass off every single minute of the day or I’m worthless. I don’t feel like I’m a worthwhile person unless I’m tear-assing through my goals like someone is about to burn them down the next day.

Not…not a super way to live.

I miss a lot of stuff. I miss a lot of fun things, things that relaxed people can see and experience. I can’t relax–I don’t know how to. Some friends attempted to teach me this weekend, but it didn’t go great.

The hardest part for me about last month was the fact that for the first time, I had to admit some things to myself that I really didn’t want to. I didn’t want to face them. I didn’t want to feel them.LOFB - Noa

I didn’t want to admit that I had feelings that were anything other than anger and happiness. I had sadness. I had great fear. I had enormous depth of emotion and every time I stood at the edge of the pool, I felt like I was already drowning.

Then I realized, if I was ever going to be the person I want to be, that I’m working so hard on these goals for, I have to feel. I have to be vulnerable with myself as well. To face my imperfections, my need for relaxation, for happiness. My need to be around people, and also to be alone. My need for freedom.

It was scary. Real scary. It means a lot of big life changes.

In life though, I’d rather have the courage to face drowning in this ocean of deep feeling and experience than to live forever isolated in the void of perfection.

Have the courage to face yourself. Have the courage to be kind to that person. I love that person. You should too.

Let’s start our month off the right way by hearing from the leading expert on our theme: Brene Brown.

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Dawn LOFB BadgeOnce upon a time, I was a happily married woman.  My husband, Joe, and I had reached a point in our lives where we looked around and said, “ok, we’ve got the house, the cars, the dog, the jobs, the hobby… what the hell do we do now?” Life was good.  Our relationship was not perfect, but we were good together.  He was the person I would spend my life with, grow old with, my best friend, the one I told all my secrets to.  I was more vulnerable with him than I had ever been with anyone, and it was a comfortable place to be.  Then he was diagnosed with cancer.  And then he died.
This is not a story about how he lived, or how he died.  This is a story about how I lived.  I watched the man I loved suffer for two years before his death.  I watched as I could do nothing for him but love him and be strong and joke with him (gallows humor is strange and wonderful) and hold his hand and make him dinners and cry in the car on the way to work and on the way home.  I watched as he died slowly, though I wasn’t there for his final moments, which haunts me to this day.
The greater the love, the greater the potential for destruction.  The pain of the hours, days, weeks, months after his death was utterly soul-shaking.  At times, I thought I would die from the pain, the sheer physicality of it.  I even, at times, wished it would kill me just so the pain would stop.  But it would not stop.  I endured, occasionally cursing him for leaving me (though clearly he had no choice in the matter), always loving him, always missing him.
I opened myself up with Joe and the result was this rending, ripping, wrenching pain, this seemingly unending miasma that threatened always to pull me under.  I wanted to never feel pain like that again. I wanted to avoid the thing that hurt, to shut down and hide, to stop breathing, to stop living.  I wanted to close myself off, not to avoid the pain I was feeling then (there was no avoiding that pain) but to build a shelter against future pain.
If loving someone that deeply and being that vulnerable can lead to such pain, why go back there again?  Why open up and let someone else in, when, sooner or later, that person is going to die, too?  The answer is so cliché that I’m hesitant to name it.  But here goes… Do it for love.  I truly believe that one of the things required for deep, lasting, abiding love is vulnerability and giving of one’s self completely.  My time with Joe proved that to me.  For a while after his death I was emotionally walled off from the world.  But for me, that couldn’t last.  Closing down like that isn’t living – it’s ever-so-slowly drowning.  At some point I recognized this, and after the maelstrom of emotions began to calm, I started on the long path to allowing myself to open up again.  Like someone with PTSD, I spent time flinching at the possibility of pain, not fully letting my guard down lest any attachment result in fresh wounds.  I was guarded, and tentative, but I saw that the answer was either live life again or die a slower and more lonely death than he had suffered.
Today I am, once again, a happily married woman.  My husband, Glenn, is a wonderful man, the person I choose to share my life and my secrets with, the one with whom I am open and honest and vulnerable. He has been patient and kind as I’ve learned to open up again.  I still flinch sometimes.  The pain still lives in me and rises up every now and then, and when it does, I fight the fear that comes with it.  But I’ve learned so much about myself.  I’ve learned that I am strong enough to face any storm, that I am strong enough to share myself fully, and that the good that comes from doing so with Glenn is more than worth the risk of any pain.  Fight the fear that comes from pain.

LOFB - NoaLast month was rough for me.

Real rough.

I underwent a lot of personal life changes, but more than that, I opened myself up to you guys.

I told you a story about myself that I hadn’t really shared with anyone. One that I wrote bolstered by anger, but in my right mind, probably would not have shared. The outpouring was…tremendous. I cried all day with the kind words and show of solidarity and support you guys showed to me, and to one another. It was touching in a way that I have never known.

I asked for your help when I was feeling down. You guys responded like gangbusters, and kept me laughing and smiling all day long.

I let myself be vulnerable. I let myself drop the normally perfectionistic exterior and show you who I really am.

Sometimes I’m afraid. Sometimes I’m downright terrified. I feel low sometimes. I hurt. I cry. I feel happy and sad and angry and fearful.

I feel.

It was a big moment for me, because letting yourself be vulnerable to people is terrifying. You’re allowing other people to know you deeply, truly, honestly in a way that is very disconcerting. It’s being honest with yourself to the point of brutal honesty with others about who you are and what you are going through. I hung myself out on a line.

And I learned something deep and profound:

All you motherfuckers love one another. Everyone cares. Everyone.

The world is not so cold that when you ask for help it will not be there. The world is not so cruel that when you are hurting, your friends and your family will not be there to help you, to guide you, to watch over you while you are vulnerable.

The world is so much more beautiful than I had ever thought.

So, this month, rather serendipitously, I encourage you to do the same. You don’t have to tell the internet (and as a result, friends and family all at the same time!) your secret, show them your vulnerability and your fear. You just have to show one person.

It may be your dog. Your friend. Your spouse.

It may be yourself.

But allowing yourself to feel vulnerable enables you to feel. To experience life for what it truly is instead of rushing to the imaginary finish line.

It’s so scary. It’s so worth it.

Today, share something with someone. It can even be me, if you want. Share how you’re feeling. Share what you want them to know about you. About themselves.

Just…share.