My vulnerability is vicious.
Covered in thorns, it whips around me like a crusted bandage stroking open wounds.
Once, when I was someone else, it was buried deep where I could not go. It hid under cold black blood, waiting for me to remember. But memories are cheaply made, and mine always arrived broken.
How can you remember what never was?
And so the softness I never had remained lost to me.
You met me when I was bold, fearless, and empty.
And I was enough.
You held me when I weakened – when my voice cracked, and my words stumbled and felled by the realization that I needed substance, I found myself crawling at my own feet.
And I was enough.
No one could love me the way you do. No one could accept every sliver of broken glass trailing behind me the way you do. No one.
Not even me.
Especially not me.
And then my vulnerability rose from the dead. Birthed from loss and grief, raised on weeping pain, I filled with the fragile blood of the stranger I’m meant to be.
I walk around in my old body, pretending I am still enough.
But I am not enough for me.
And so if I am enough for you, how can you see me?
“So I watched this thing…it’s going around…”
They are looking at me, waiting, and I realize it is too late. I will say it.
“It’s called The Rabbi’s Daughter…”
My father’s eyes raise and I almost swallow the words, even though I know I can’t.
“It reminded me of you…of us.”
And then I am describing the scene, the one where the girl is baring her soul to her father, showing her a piece of him that is so raw and so full of confusion…the part where they watch her creation float across the screen…the image of him walking…her circling him in his shadow, at the end of his shadow…always, always in his shadow…and then he smiles and reaches for a book…and her face shows sorrow and acceptance…as he finds a quote…intellectualizing her experience…explaining it…his way…even though it is hers…
And my father…my teacher…my very own Rabbi…is nodding his head in a way that shows me he knows…very well…why I am telling him this…and he is sort of pulling away…wanting to leave the conversation…
We wrap it up easily. He kids a bit about how I tried to smooth my choice of topic over with a silly comment about his lack of emotional capacity…just so I wouldn’t be disappointed…and in very few words he calls my bluff.
And then the goodbye is easy, comfortable…and I am so incredibly in awe of him…of them…the only two people in my life who were willing…eager…to change…just so that we could hold a conversation where things that aren’t so nice to hear…can be said, accepted…and embraced.