Walking with vulnerability

“Just call her,” my friend urges me.  

It is days before Christmas and an upcoming ski trip. The events being back-to-back intensifies what is already a stressful time of year. In the next few days I will be hosting family on Christmas Eve, preparing for Santa’s arrival and driving to the Tahoe to ski.  I hadn’t even made it to the slopes but was already exhausted.

“Maybe I shouldn’t go,” I suggest. I regularly lean on this friend for advice, now on whether to go skiing.  My plan is ambitious: a 6-hour+ drive to the mountains, skiing with 3 kids on my own and winding down the Christmas season in less than 48 hours. No wonder I have an avalanche of worry.  

“Lugging the skis, hoping the last of the ski gear arrives, packing up the car – it feels like a lot,” I say with doubt.  This is a departure from my normal attitude. I usually push back against living a smaller version of life – of saying no to things – simply because I’m single. 

Is skiing one of things to close the chapter on? I wonder.  I was struggling with pushing through with taking my kids skiing with a nice group of friends.  My kids would need help getting to the slopes and supervision on them, for they were still beginners. This would be a 2-person job for certain.

Just call her. Whatever you choose is fine. Just try telling her the truth,” my friend advises me.  “Maybe you end up canceling. People understand more than you think. You never know what she’ll say,” she adds.

Before, I would cancelled using an excuse that was mostly truthful.  Or, I would have covered up my stress, pushing through to be a superhero.  Yet, neither of these two strategies would solve the range of challenges I’m facing now. It’s why I want to bail.

Over text, I already begin hedging with the host – “I’m worried about this trip. Can I call you?” 

A few minutes later, we speak –

“Look, I really want to go. But, it’s SO busy right now. Christmas is in two days and now I need to pack on Christmas Eve?  I’m worried about driving and managing the kids alone on the slopes,” I say, unfolding these logical layers.

But the facts aren’t the issue – my feelings are. 

My earlier conversation rushes into my mind. So, I pause to allow the flood of reasoning in my brain to slow. I take a long breath, giving me a chance to move those thoughts down to my heart.   In that tender place, I softly add, “I worried I can’t do it all by myself.”

I feel great relief in unloading the truth, though I am unsure of what this sharing of my vulnerability will yield. I feel exposed. 

But, not for long. My boisterous, no-nonsense Argentinian friend jumps in, “Listen, I want you to do what feels right. I have 3 kids, too. I know what it is like when I’m alone with them. It isn’t easy.  But, we’ll help you. Really.  We can drive together. We’ll ski together. We’ll make it work – together.”

With every word out of her mouth, my body begins to release tension like when air escapes the mouth of a balloon – slowly and silently.  My view of the situation changes. This permission to do what feels right for me is a huge relief, as well.  I am no longer worried about her and upholding what’s right for others – just free to figure out what is right for me

Let’s caravan up the mountain together.  We can ski together and all pitch in carrying the stuff. There are so many of us.  It will be easy once you get here.  You’ll see.  But do what you feel is best. It’s ok either way,” she ends.

However illogical, I wasn’t aware that asking for help was an option.  I’m used to managing it all on my own – and have been pretty good at it most of my life. Yet, this was one scenario I couldn’t manage alone. The growth opportunity came in my willingness to reveal my reality and being open to exploring ideas. Only then, could I make a decision.

In meeting my vulnerability, she more clearly saw my challenges.  From there, we were able to create a solution from a more aligned place. It is something that could not have happened had I hidden the truth.  

Well, this is a huge relief. I can’t thank you enough.  If that’s possible, then, yes, we’d still like to come,” I reply. “Oh, and thank you SO much,” I add.

“Fanstastic!” she exclaims.  “Have a good Christmas and get ready to have the best time skiing together!” she ends. 

In a matter of minutes, the entire situation has transformed itself.  Minutes before, it was one that felt too heavy to carry alone.  Then, after a walk with vulnerability, new solutions emerged. So did a new level of closeness with this friend.

So, I went. And it was worth it.

On the last night of our trip, amongst a large group of mutual friends gathered for dinner, I shared this story of the lead-up to the trip and my appreciation for that family’s help. “You have no idea how much it means to me – to help me, to have us here,” I said.

It’s not a big deal, Shibani!” shrugging off the emotionality.  The hostess, in party mode, says buoyantly, “We have to just be honest. It is easier when we are – but it is difficult to do. Life’s too short to pretend. Now, who needs more wine?” 

And, I raised my hand.

Have you recently walked with vulnerability? How did it go?  Would love to hear from you. 

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