Connection Means Getting Dirty with Me

I was certain yesterday that the weight of life’s stresses would crush me. Nothing serious is happening; just normal life stuff had seemed to gather momentum and formed into a giant ball of worry. I crawled into bed after work and pulled the covers up over my head.

Jared crawled into bed beside me and put his arm around me.

We lay there like that in silence for several minutes before he asked me what was wrong. I mumbled a bit about what was making me anxious, and we fell back into silence. I drifted off to sleep, and he got up and did the laundry that I’d been planning to do. It was only after I woke up that he put his face close to mine and promised everything would be OK.

This, I think, is the heart of connection.

My friend Amber recently taught me a pidgin phrase, “Yumi wan bel”, that means we have the same stomach. She says it reminds her of the Greek word splachnizomai, which is the origin of compassion and means to be moved to the bowels. “To me it means: I’m not afraid of your shit,” she says.

I’m not afraid of your shit.

I’ll crawl into the cave with you.

I’ll lie in your pity bed and put my arm around you while you wallow in worry.

And only after you’ve had a chance to sleep and stink and stew will I assure you that everything will be fine.

This type of compassion is a rare gift, and one that we can only receive when we have the courage to be vulnerable. Knowing it exists inspires me to be brave. Knowing it is rare reminds me to be grateful and to treasure those who have earned the right to hear my worries.

I used to think that having lots of friends to invite to a party would make me feel like I belonged. I’m learning now that having a handful of people in my life who aren’t afraid of my shit is what makes me feel like I’m not alone.

At any given moment, I know I can call Jared, Lisa, or my mom and share my shame with them, and they will get down into the muck with me. I have no fear of judgment from them, and they aren’t afraid to hear about the problems without solutions. When they say, “I get it”, I know they do.

I think we all need that.

To have it, we have to be less afraid of our own garbage. We have to be willing to get messy if we’re to ever have someone else step into it with us. And we have to, I think, be willing to get into the bowels for someone else, and resist the urge to say it will be OK.

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  1. Megan says:

    Yes. :)
    Megan’s most recent post: Drafting

  2. Lisa says:

    Thank you for getting in my muck too. My muck is really dirty right now.

    I love yer face.
    Lisa’s most recent post: On the Upside of a Downward Spiral

  3. Nanna says:

    This is really wonderful. A rare and beautiful gift and honestly, you express it exquisitely.
    Nanna’s most recent post: Home Sweet Home

  4. Couldn’t agree more! Great post.
    Corey Feldman’s most recent post: Reviews that made me warm and fuzzy

  5. daniel says:

    It is hard to wallow, to dive in to that cave of muck. It is even harder for some to allow people to do that, to dive into their cave. Sometimes it takes patience, and if you can’t dive in, if the person suffering pushes back, doesn’t allow you in, if you can, you need to sit patiently at the entrance to the “muck cave” and be there, simply be there. Sometimes that is enough.
    daniel’s most recent post: Aquarium Trip – Phamily Foto Phriday 2-22-13

    • Miss Britt says:

      So true. Jared, for example, does not like me running into his cave (so to speak.) I’ve had to learn to sit around and wait until he feels safe enough to let me in.

  6. interesting. i’m totally different. when i am truly in the muck i don’t want to talk about it. i hate when people say they know how i feel. they don’t. they know how they feel in a similar situation, but no one knows how i feel and it pisses me off when they say they do. so for me, i just want to breathe in and breathe out alone. or i want someone to distract me. but i don’t want anyone to share my guts.

    on the other hand, i like to be there to share the guts of those that i love. i can listen or problem solve or do a variety of things for the person going through their experience for as long as it takes.

    incredible the differences in people and how they handle things. pretty cool.
    hello haha narf’s most recent post: Adventure in Tahn

    • Miss Britt says:

      Hm. I think the intimacy and connection that comes from vulnerability is universal. Some people are more open to it than others, but I think everyone can benefit from it in varying doses.

      That doesn’t mean that everyone has to talk about all of their stuff all of the time, but at some point letting someone get belly to belly with you is, I think, the only way to have intimacy.

  7. Deborah says:

    Yes! You have beautifully put my thoughts on paper… thank you!
    Deborah’s most recent post: “Bring Out The Best”

  8. Kristin says:

    BTW, I will always be here to listen. I am not afraid of your shit either! :) Love ya!

    • Miss Britt says:

      I know you’re not. You’re a great listener – not always super willing to share your real shit though, are you? ;-)

  9. lately, with changes on my horizon, and a desire of my heart that is NOT to BE, I have felt more tender toward myself. I have just BEEN THERE and NOT tried to fix or analyse the $#!+ out of things.

    so refreshing, really.

    I am thinking if anybody is “watching” I must just BE teaching them how to treat me. I like that idea…
    Currie Silver’s most recent post: Currie’s Gratitude 4 March 2013

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