I am not that brave. I think people may confuse my inability to hold anything in for bravery. Like puke and tears. We all try, to certain degrees of success, to ignore the mouth-watering signal of impending puke. Just like we try to swallow back the lump in our throat when tears threaten to ruin a perfectly decent moment. I am not good at trying not to puke or cry, just like I am not great at not talking about things we are not supposed to talk about. I just let it out.
My partner once told me I lack conversational foreplay. If something is on my mind, I dive right in, not paying close attention to the recipient’s ability or even desire to engage in that conversation. End of life care. Their relationship with their mother. My labia. How much money they make. The mysterious concept of God, why do we need bras, and why don’t concerts start at 7pm? My partner, Dan, has been encouraging me to start slow and warm up to the big topics. Or at least ask for some consent before jumping in. I am working on it.
All of this to say, my bravery may just be inappropriate social interactions wearing the mask of fearlessness. Nevertheless, it has put in me in a position to have real dialogues about real things; my divorce; trying really fucking hard to find some compassion for myself; undergoing disfiguring vulva surgery; finding love again, or really for the first time. The only reason this bravery really matters is that it seems to be contagious. Over the past 3 years, I have gotten countless emails and texts from women asking for insights. Telling me they have told no one about how deep their sadness goes. How scared they are and how alone they feel.
Over the next few months, I am going to try to address some of the things these women ask me. Who am I to even be the person giving advice? I once read that we should write what we need to read. So, that is what I will do. I will write what I need to read, knowing that maybe you need to read it too. I will say what I can’t keep in. Answer the questions: How did you know you needed a therapist? How did you know your marriage was over? How do you talk about your vulva with such kindness? How do you survive not seeing your children every day? How did you find a job that brings you actual joy? How did you fall in love? Where did you find love? How do you talk about the things that make your stomach hurt? How did you know it would be okay? What do you do when you feel like you’re doing it all differently, too different from others? How do you have that conversation that needs to be had?
So. I am asking for your consent. Run towards discomfort. Let the tears spill out and the puke hurl through the air. We are no longer holding down what holds us down.
First up: Permission Slips