The fall created a deep sense of vulnerability. Most of us are not fond of feeling helpless. Laying head down on concrete with my legs still on the stairs, I was temporarily frozen. Everyone raced over to help and all I could say is, “Don’t touch me.” Normally I would be embarrassed and check to see who witnessed my clumsiness, but this pain was something I had not experienced. From the moment the first responders arrived until this day, I am on the receiving end. Giving help is so much easier than receiving. Asking for help is admitting your weakness and vulnerability. Those around me have been so kind and caring, and these are true gifts. But it is a choice to receive those gifts graciously and it feels awkward. I really prefer to help others, but this experience is creating new neural pathways in my brain. The impulses seem to be traveling in the wrong direction. I will be so grateful to be on the giving end again.
On a lighter note, I now have a new sensitivity to handicap bathrooms (should you use it if you are able-bodied or leave it vacant?). I waited for a mom and her two kids to exit a handicapped stall while watching their feet dance to the piped-in music, obviously having fun. There were eight other empty stalls, but I needed the safety bar to hang on to. As she exited, she squirmed when she realized I was waiting with my walker and leg boot. I smiled graciously at her and the children, but I thought to myself, “I will be sensitive to that in the future.” My realization is that although vulnerability can be experienced all through life, it becomes much more prevalent as we grow older. Needing help is part of the journey, but when you face your weakness, it creates a raw authenticity. One of the beautiful things about growing old is you have the choice to become truly authentic. I love what Brene’ Brown, sociologist and author, says, “If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Join the conversation at www.justnowoldenough.com.
Connie Mason Michaelis is a lifestyle consultant at www.justnowoldenough.com.