A vulnerability hangover? Not quite.

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life40 Comments

The Tale of Two Beds was one of those posts.

One that generates an awful lot of discussion. One that seemed to take on a life of its own. And I’ll admit: I wasn’t sure what direction the discussion was going to take. Suffice to say I was overwhelmed by it.

In a good way.

You’ve heard the term ‘vulnerability hangover’ yes? Dr. Brené Brown has really brought this idea into the common vernacular, that idea of opening yourself up and truly sharing something scary, or potentially shameful; something that shows you in a less than ideal or perfect light can result in a what the hell did I just do kind of moment, a.k.a., a vulnerability hangover.

That didn’t exactly happen.

What I experienced on Friday, through all of the comments and resulting discussion, was actually—and I swear I’m not trying to sound super cheesy and feel free to roll your eyes if you must—a compassion hangover.

I’m not going to lie, starting with one of the very first comments by blog reader (and guy I’d really love to drink a pint with) Paul, right through the the very last one (and they are still coming), I was a hot, sobbing mess most of the day.

Something happened. I felt less disconnected.

Connection is something I’m trying to create through the work I’m presently doing with my therapist. Connecting to reality is the first step. Part of reality is to see myself accurately: my strengths and my weaknesses.

One of my strengths is sharing stories. Combining the strength of sharing a story about my weaknesses has some real potential to do something. It could inspire you. It could piss you off. It could reveal something about yourself that you’d not previously considered. It could make you want to read my blog more. Or, less.

It could make you feel less alone.

The beauty in all of this? I could write about my weaknesses, the very things I’m wanting to change, for a very, very long time.

One of my weaknesses I’d like to cop to today? My memory.

Dan read my blog post and he said, “Honey, that’s not how it happened. Did you forget?”

He reminded me that I didn’t beg him to go to the basement; he offered it up. It was his idea. I was coming up with all sorts of crazy scenarios for poor little Cathy and her sleep problems. Instead, he stepped up and played the truly heroic victim in all of this and packed his bags for two floors down. It wasn’t just a selfless act. He got something out of it too.

He got to feel in control, just like I felt like I got to feel in control by having the room all to myself.

Feelings are a funny thing. I am learning that they aren’t based in reality. When Dan and I operate on feelings, there’s not a whole lot of connecting going on. There’s a whole lot of jockeying for control.

For us, control equals disconnection. Not the best ingredient for a happy marriage at all.

I plan to explore this a bit more regularly in this space. Definitely.

I just wanted to thank those of you who shared your personal stories, risking the judgment of all kinds of readers who instead offered up a whole heck of a lot of something else: compassion.

And that is kind of out control.



Cathy ZielskeA vulnerability hangover? Not quite.

40 Comments on “A vulnerability hangover? Not quite.”

  1. #1
    Kim H.

    You are truly awesome and your blog post does open up all sorts of vulnerability. I’m so glad to hear of all the compassion that resulted and not judgment. Have a beautiful Monday!!!!

  2. #2

    I was relieved to read comments in the previous post from so many light sleepers! Now, I would not say I suffer from insomnia or anything like that but I am a light sleeper with my own idiosyncrasies. The only time I truly slept soundly was during both of my pregnancies, oddly. Otherwise, I require complete sensory deprivation (eye mask, ear plugs) and even then cannot fall asleep til the TV is off. And all it takes is a murmur on the monitor from one of my kids (they’re both under 3, so one day I’ll turn it off) and I am wide awake. My husband is like, how did you hear that? Anyway – thank you for sharing. I feel less alone, too 🙂

  3. #3

    I LOVE that phrase, compassion hangover. I’m looking forward to more of your storytelling. 🙂 It gives me strength to connect to my reality & acknowledge my own weaknesses. Thank you!

  4. #4

    So weird that you posted that today, about jockeying for control. My husband is gone for two weeks, and my routine is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. I am currently in a major introspection…trying to figure out what it all means, and my degree of culpability. My big thing right now is owning my own shit without taking any that isn’t mine.

  5. #6
    Squeaky Connors

    Oh Cathy,you are the best!, girl! I must also say, your husband is the best, and I thank him for being open and vulnerable through your postings. The things you share are real, and real things help others. When I started blogging, I posted a cute poem about the bad day I’d had and it included a spat with my husband. Almost immediately he said, you can’t say something like that. He has a need to appear perfect to others. Perhaps if he had had a need to be perfect to others we would not have divorced after 37 years. Now… I have a new sleeping partner, with new sleeping challenges. I’ve adjusted to two cats sleeping with us in a full size bed but…sometimes his Chihuahua is with us. The Chihuahua has not adjusted to me in the bed and he makes my partner sleep on the couch with him. Little terrorist! So here’s just a little more love for you, because you have had a positive impact in my life in ways you will never know and I am sure there are many who would say the same. Thank your husband for me as well and give him a big hug.

  6. #7

    We are familiar with doing things for appearances and approval in this house. Thats not really my problem, surprisingly. But we are working through that for sure.

  7. #8
    Paige S.

    I’m not really clever with words or stories, but I wanted you to know that I appreciate you and your vulnerability, your humor, your stories; in other words, your style. 🙂 You’ve made a difference in my life for the better. Thank you.
    I think about you every time I drive down Hwy 77 here in ‘Hachie and say a little prayer for you.

  8. #9

    One of the best things I love about you and your blog is how refreshingly REAL you are. Don’t stop being you. And thank you for sharing your stories – it makes me feel a little less alone. 🙂

  9. #10

    You may not know me, well of course you don’t! lol but when I read you, I feel totally connected to you. You’re the ‘girlfriend’ you trust with your secrets because you know she gets it. Her insides match her outsides.

    I was on vacation when the bed post came out and boy did it hit home. Vacations can be pure hell for me at times. In lovely Milan, I ended up on the marble bathroom floor with all the duvets just to get a night’s partial sleep. By the time we got to our rental apartment in another city, I was so exhausted I only wanted to go home and say the hell with Italy. Once again.

    Home means two rooms and two beds. It amazes me that he still thinks that in a foreign country I will be able to handle what I can’t handle at home. I turn 70 in Sept and I said I am not about to subject my body to this kind of abuse any more. I want and need a night’s sleep every night. It’s just that simple.

    Love you!

  10. #11

    You are one of my favourite bloggers. You are authentic, real, a different person and this is what I like to find in people. The courage you have in sharing that blog post with us was… I don´t have words to describe it. I love the way you tell your storys and the way you put them in your scrapbook. I love the way that you have awereness that you have problems and must deal with it (we all have)but they are always in different forms from the other people that are in our life wether they are our friends, family, etc. The only thing that we can do is adapt the problem the best way that we can to be happy and be happy with the persons that fill our life. Is this that make me come to your blog and I whant to thank you for your vulnerability and say you that you have a great partner for life and a real family that work the problems you have. Keep the god work and thank you for making the difference.

  11. #12

    Hmmmm very interesting. Control = disconnection. Maybe that’s our problem. I’m married to this great person yet we don’t connect. He’s great in that we are often aligned with our goals and values. But we suck as a couple because we both want control and we are also very bad at emoting.

    We are both always fighting for control. We both don’t like to be controlled. We both like to blame and we both don’t like to take blame. We don’t express our feelings and when we do, there is a huge feud. So we continue to live “happily” together by not expressing our needs. And then I feel disconnected.

    Is that what you mean?

  12. #13

    Yeah. Ive pretty much found in this process that all the shit? Its mine. His has nothing to do with mine. And that has been a hard pill to swallow. For sure.

  13. #16

    Oh Maureen… you KNOW I *know* you of course. But wow, this hits hard. Just that idea of being in a magical country and there you are, on the bathroom floor. It does mean so much to me. This is one present reason why I do not look forward to time at our lake house. Its rare that there is any extra space to sleep. Its not very restful, but I need to go and deal and just be grateful for time with my family. Sometimes, its hard to focus on that when youre full of anxiety over sleeping.

  14. #17

    I can only speak for my current state, but when control is my purpose, its impossible to have real and true connections with anyone. Theres nothing warm in control. Thats what Im figuring out. But theres another part of control that I havent written about, and plan to… soon. It has to do with trying to control pain (pain = anything that doesnt go the way I want it to go.)

  15. #18

    I watched a segment on CreativeLive last week on Functional Home Design with Tobi Fairley. She talked about how popular it has become to design separate sleeping quarters for husbands and wives so they can each get a good nights sleep and make their homes more functional. She calls the separate sleeping area the “snoratorium.” She indicated it was way more common than most people realized.

    My husband and I began sleeping separately about 3 or 4 years ago and I LOVE IT. Our grown sons were horrified when we first told them, but then when I explained that we were free to “visit” the other’s bedroom anytime we wanted, they were even more embarrassed and wanted to change the subject. For me, it was the best move we ever made. I love my husband even more when I’m well rested and not resentful over his keeping me awake all night.

    I admire your courage to open up and be real on your blog. Being vulnerable is scary, but its the only way to live a genuine life. For those folks who may judge you…. I wouldn’t want them for a friend anyway! Love you and your blog!!

  16. #19
    Leslie B

    Thank you so much for taking the step and putting yourself out there. I can appreciate the internal dialogue that had to go on prior to hitting the ‘publish’ button. I mean, it’s not like you were sharing this with the expectation that MAYBE someone, somewhere would read it some day. You knew it would be read. I don’t know that I’d have the balls to hit that button. I check your blog every day and I do love that you often times give me reason to pause & pay attention. You’ve helped me see that the everyday ‘stuff’ – including the struggles and discomfort – needs to be acknowledged and even documented. I’m having a really hard time working through feeling disconnected. It’s impacting just about every aspect of my life right now and I am not sure where or how to begin…I just know I need to. Life isn’t all “shiny shiny”. It’s just not…and that’s ok.

  17. #20

    Barb, the architect who designed our remodel told me that he is getting more requests to create snore rooms as well. Man, if we were wealthier, I tell ya….

  18. #23

    The kids each have their own room. My husband and I have been talking about how we each need our own space. And I’m not just talking about for sleeping. A space we can each have full control over. Ours. To do with as we please. Ugggh we have control issues lol.

  19. #25

    I always appreciate your candor and willingness to share the not so perfect. I have some blogs I read and love but sometimes wonder if the person fell through some Candyland wormhole and why the hell haven’t I found that wormhole??!! Then I remember……no one or their life is perfect, even if it is on the Internet. And thank God. How boring it would be. I overheard an adolescent pediatrician I worked with once tell one of his patients who was down on himself for being angry at his parents, ” feelings aren’t good or bad. They just are.” I try to remember that when less than pretty things come up. I’m not bad. Just having a feeling. Now, what am I going to do about it.

  20. #27
    Cathie Australia

    Well I didn’t comment orginally although after years of bunking off to the spare room or seriously wanting to suffocate my “jackhammer” snoring husband I know how you feel.
    What I’m really commenting on is your “memory”. I think often you remember things differently to your partner, because you remember from your perspective and they from theirs. The fantastic TV show from many years ago “thirtysomething” did a segment once of an argument from 3 points of view, the wife’s, the husband’s, and then what actually happened and they were all different. Sometimes I joke about having everything in email form so I can prove what was really said rather than what was interpreted from what was said.
    Glad to hear your continue to communicate, and like many others your blog has made me laugh and cry over the years, not to mention think 🙂

  21. #28
    Margaret C

    ‘Connection is something I’m trying to create through the work I’m presently doing with my therapist. Connecting to reality is the first step. Part of reality is to see myself accurately: my strengths and my weaknesses’
    ‘Feelings are a funny thing. I am learning that they aren’t based in reality’

    Yes. This is EXACTLY where I am at just now. I think our generation has been lied to a lot about the importance of feelings in who we are. I am finding it hard (with both my therapist and with my church mentor)to dissolve the relationship I’ve built between how I feel and how I react/behave to how I feel, and how this has damaged my connection to how to deal with reality. Fun, isn’t it? Nice to know that I’m on the road with someone as cool as you, Cathy.

  22. #29

    Oh, I so loved that show! And I remember that episode. Yes, one of my issues is not being able to see other peoples perspectives. Just my own. Working on that. : )

  23. #30

    Wow… look how this conversation has taken off – from ‘merely’ sleeping to life introspection. That is what makes you so unique Cathy.

    By the time I read the original post, I thought it was too late to comment but you seemed to have generated an entire series ☺. It spurred a scrapbook pg for me because I’m the cause of my DH’s not sleeping well. Apparently, I’m the snorer (no proof though so it’s debatable :). However, I panic each night going to bed wondering if I’m going to wake him up. (Hence my clenched teeth & TMJ issues sometimes.) Sometimes I get that ‘gentle’ prod & wake up with the WTF & realize I might be making some noise. Ugh.

  24. #31

    Stumbled on to this post…am so glad someone else has these same sleeping issues. Just ordered the blue light…thanks so much! Know how lack of sleep can add to any other problems….just listen to a talk about how lack of sleep can make things big and bad and plenty of sleep can make things look a whole lot better.

  25. #33

    Yes. Yes! Our generation? Actually, our entire society. : ) Its all about how do I feel and what am I getting for me. Thats what my whole life has been which is why it must change.

  26. #34
    Margaret C

    Me too ☺ and I agree with you that it’s a societal thing. I’m a teacher and, although we are seeing the repercussions of this thinking in our classrooms, we are still not doing enough to educate children on how to deal with it. Or their parents. Sometimes, Parents Night is such an “oh, that explains everything!!!” experience!

  27. #35
    Gina M

    We are empty nesters now, so I do have a spare room I can go to when I wake up during the night. Half the time it’s from his snoring and half the time it is from my own night sweats! Ack. So are you going to do a post about having seperate bathrooms too?
    Thanks for your real life perspective. Love your Project Life BTW.

  28. #38

    Dear God-thank you for this !!!!!

    I sleep in the guest bedroom for the exact reasons you listed and feel guilty about it every single day!

    I keep the doors closed to both bedrooms when people come over so I don’t have to make up some crazy story about any of it, which I have done big time!

    You are incredibly brave and sharing this helped me more than you will ever know!

    Michelle (post menopause;)

  29. #39

    Thank you for continuing to blog, to have the courage to share your story about therapy-both personally and as a couple. I wish I had something more profound to share than that, but I simply want to say thank you. Please continue to write. IT is helpful. 🙂

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