Out on a Vulnerable Limb (A Conversation with Me)

the first duty of love is to listen - Paul Tillich

This quote has stayed with me since I was a teen. I hope it stays with you.


Here is my truth: I have been in bed, in pain, suffering for two days.

Here is my truth that is easy for you to hear because it doesn’t push buttons or point fingers: I have been in bed, in pain, suffering for two days.

Let me say that one more time for the cheap seats in the back: I have been in bed, in pain, suffering for two days.

And I say this knowing, with confidence, that the majority of you have paused and taken a moment to empathize with my life living with two chronic, degenerative, incurable diseases, because you are my friends, my fam, my circle of like-minded individuals, but even for those of you who don’t know me I am confident you are compassionately reading (thank you).

Now, humor me.

Imagine if I stepped out on that limb, vulnerable and isolated, and said the same thing, “I have been in bed, in pain, suffering for two days,” knowing I wasn’t alone, knowing full well thousands upon thousands of people are in my same situation and some of those people need me to be their voice and so I spoke my truth with the intention to raise awareness for a CURE to my diseases, but was met with this:

“What exactly did you do to get yourself in that position?”
“As a healthy person, I can see both sides to this argument. I mean, it’s understandable how your admission of suffering makes other people look bad, but isn’t it selfish to say that you suffer and we don’t?”
“Is it really suffering? I mean you have a bed when so many people suffer and they don’t even have a bed.”
“Buck up, buttercup. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
“Always trying to be a victim.”
“What is your agenda?”
“Hey, don’t vilify the well! We can’t help that YOU are sick.”
“People like you give modern medicine a bad name.”
“Just because you aren’t having a good time doesn’t mean you need to ruin it for the rest of us.”
“Is it really that bad?”
“Clearly, you’re exaggerating for attention.”
“You aren’t doing enough.”
“Your lifestyle choices contribute to your suffering, therefore you shouldn’t force your suffering on us.”
“Stop whining, at least it isn’t cancer. You won’t die.”
“You should be grateful. Use your suffering to make better art and write better stories.”
“You could have said you were suffering in a different way to make it more easy for us to understand. How were we supposed to know you were suffering if you didn’t communicate with us more clearly? We would have helped you if we knew. We aren’t mind readers.”
“Pain is subjective.”

We as a culture are in a period of great awakening and have the opportunity to acknowledge, reconcile, change and evolve. There are so many brave men and women out there ON THE VULNERABLE LIMB doing their best, speaking their truth and changing the world so even if you don’t understand (yet) the significance of what they’re doing and saying and the truth they are living out loud for MILLIONS of people that change will still happen eventually and that is amazing.

WAIT, before you say anything think about it: someone stepping out on the vulnerable limb even before YOU are ready is amazing, full stop, so when you see someone’s truth do me a favor and stop to simply listen.

There are some moments when you don’t have to be a vigilante and can trust that if there is malicious intent that truth will also come to light, because those of us who identify with the people out on the vulnerable limb are listening. We are listening to them and we are also listening to you and learning, every single day, how very much alone we are and truly how much work needs to be done for us to feel safe.

I am so very grateful to all people of color, minorities and those who have survived sexual abuse/harassment volunteering their safety and time through out history to awaken the world to evil abuse of power and domination.

The daily education of the privileged is so exhausting, as so many trailblazing pioneers of justice and equality already know, but y’all, the blowback, the knee-jerk reactions, the judgment, the hyper defensiveness, the white-knuckle hold on comfortable ignorance NEEDS TO END. They do this work so we can do our work.

So I am stepping out on the vulnerable limb, on this tiny platform I own who’s ethos is about communication to say those who step out on that vulnerable limb knowing they will be attacked, their character will be assassinated, do so because their integrity does not allow them to remain silent, the safety of other’s does not allow them to remain silent and your comfort does not justify their silence.

This conversation isn’t just for the next generation, for my kids, for our teens and your kids to solve, apply and implement. This is a now issue, this was a then issue, this needs to be a part of the past.

I learned a long time ago when you want someone to listen make it about you, so this conversation is about me, the Aziz conversation is about me, “Grab um by the pussy” is about me, #yesallwomen is about me, #metoo is about me, but really it is about us.

I didn’t learn how to “properly” say no well enough for “people to understand me” until I was 30.

Please, just listen.
Please, just listen.
Please, just listen and do better and I promise to do the same for you.

Thank you.