It turns out grocery shopping is an adventure in vulnerability. What on earth?! I’d never noticed until yesterday but, whoa.
I watched my checker’s face as she scanned three pairs of new undies, Sally Hansen nail fortifying treatment, Tiger Balm, a box of Pull-Ups, coffee and four tiny seasonally themed rugs.
She had these huge twinkly eyes, a wonderfully soft yet pillar-like presence and a warming smile. For the first time ever in a check-out line, I had the sense she knew me a little more deeply with each beep of the scanner.
Beep. My underwear drawer is full of holey offerings.
Beep. My nails are weak and peeling.
Beep. I have insane, out-of-nowhere tension in my upper back, neck and shoulders.
Beep. My old-enough-to-not-to kids are wetting the bed at night.
Beep. I’m so, so tired. The kids are waking up so much at night these past few weeks that I feel like I have a newborn again.
Beep. On the up side, I’m finally getting into the spirit of decorating for Halloween.
“I bet you learn a lot about the people who come through your line,” I said to the checker.
“Oh, yes. I sure do,” she said, smiling. “You learn a LOT about people by seeing what they buy.”
Why am I totally comfy with a complete stranger ringing up a book about healthy relationships (Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix, if you must know)—or even something more intimate and private—but it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors for most the people I know personally.
What if we were as willing to be vulnerable with our everyday community as we are with the grocery store checker? Here’s who I am. That’s that. Now you know.
As she made steady eye contact with me after scanning my underthings, I didn’t feel unsafe. I didn’t feel judged. She doesn’t care. She thinks I’m nice even if my nails are brittle and my husband and I have to work at staying connected in our marriage. Actually, she probably doesn’t even have an opinion about me at all.
And that’s ultimately what I’m really going for in the vulnerability game: living free of opinions about myself or about anyone else. I had a wonderful friend who always used to drive me crazy with his lack of opinions about things. When prodded, he always responded with, “It is what it is.” It’s taken me years to even acknowledge the wisdom in not making a decision about someone or something and, I’ve got to hand it to him, he knew what was UP.
I’m getting better about not judging my own feelings and behavior, but I’m still a touch too concerned about how others receive me. Maybe a few more grocery trips to practice my own vulnerability and I’ll have arrived.
Here’s who I am. That’s that. Now you know. It is what it is. Beep.