I Swear Because I Care: On Truth and Vulnerability

Thank goodness for beautiful friends.
This happened yesterday, too. 

I had a long talk with a friend yesterday. Actually, I had a couple of long talks with a couple of friends, and a couple of wonderful musicmaking experiences with a couple of children and with one friend. Oh, and I talked to a therapist, which I never do because I'm already perfect, which you know. Alas. All these things together brought me to Brenee Brown's TED Talk on the power of vulnerability. Because this friend, the first one, told me she was deeply worried about me because something had happened with my writing. Too much nicey nicey. Too much God. Not enough swearing. Who is dampening your flame, she wanted to know? Bring back the vulnerability! The struggle! The swears! The dirty dishes! 

Now, this is the same person who told me a year ago that I write too much about my dirty dishes. But fine; I recognize that things have changed since then. The pandemic happened, and she has had to struggle with her own messy house for a couple of months. Her cleaning lady can no longer come, and so her kitchen has devolved and she has had to evolve. (Meow. I love you, still.) Now she wants to read about my messy sink too. Good. I like writing about my messy sink and my messy house. (It's not that messy, really.) Thing is, I also like writing about "god," because often at the very bottom of our sink, right under the bits of last night's broccoli and smelly fish flakes, is exactly where god lives—the unusual god that I believe in, that is, which is not a god at all.

I stopped writing about my messy house not because someone else's "God" entered. He didn't; I'm an atheist, remember? I stopped writing about our messy house because my Inner Defender told me not to write about our messy house, and while you're at it, stop talking about your terrible parenting, too.  Please don't tell everyone that you offered your kids dinner at 9 pm on Sunday! What will the neighbors think!!! What will happen if everyone finds out that you fed your children their Sunday dinner at 9 pm???? When we grew up, Sunday dinner was at 2:00. Every Sunday. A pot roast, followed by a Sara Lee coconut cake still partially frozen, followed by a drive in the country and a visit to Grandma. Every Sunday. This really happened. It was beautiful.

A few things about that. Dinner was stony quiet. My sister was at the table, having an anxiety attack over her beef rinds, wondering if my father was going to say, again, that she better not have another slice because she might want to watch her weight. My brother was there, too, thin as a rake, taking a second slice without asking, but he was high and only the other brother knew it and no one said anything. The other brother, after putting half the stick of butter on his mashed potatoes, was seething silently about the last time he got hit in the head by someone's hand and was about to make a comment and get hit in the head again. Making sure his pipe and the keys to the van were in his pocket so he could storm out and get high the second that a-hole pissed him off. I have no idea what my mother was doing. Unwrapping the Sara Lee, probably.

These things did not happen at our Sunday 9 pm dinner here in Paradise Found. We have evolved, too, you see. We had homemade pizza. White wine. No pockets. The kids got too loud. (They always talk too freaking loud, for no apparent reason. We have a very. small. kitchen.) We were having a "who can be the quietest" contest, and we were all losing. Someone might have gotten really annoyed. But she tried. Lord, she tried. 

That's something to write about. I write about the 9 pm dinner because I know that doing the exact wrong thing is absolutely perfect. I write about the 9 pm dinner so that you know it's ok if that's when you had dinner, too. It's also ok if you have several baskets of unfolded laundry on your bedroom floor. (I don't know what sort of savage would do that, but whatever.) And for YOU, Oh Highly Structured, Tidy Person, though I am sure you do not read my blog, I write about the 9 pm dinner so you have even more to feel inherently superior about. Trust us: You ARE inherently superior. You piss us off.

Ellen will be happy to read about the 9 pm dinner. It's way more funny than God. God is actually not funny at all. Beloved church friends, I know you don't mind. Because we know this: In disbelief lies the grain of belief. In humor lies the grain of truth. In truth lies the grain of courage. And in courage lies the seed of connection and belonging: vulnerability. The more vulnerable, the more true. I sh!t you not. 

In fact, I promise to never sh!t you again. Brace yourself.