On acceptance.

wrist with with intention tattoos

I needed help getting out of bed; I needed help opening a bottle of coconut water. The picnic was obviously not going to happen, but I was too devastated to mention it.

Listen to me read the below here:


C and I have been trying to have picnics lately, building them into our weekends as a matter of course. The picnic basket is one that we brought out of the closet, a bit dusty, after years of disuse; it was a wedding present, complete with wine glasses and cloth napkins. The picnics are simple and glorious, an affirmation of life and love as we snack on cheese and gluten-free crackers. We try not to let Daphne get into the ginger cookies. We were going to have one on Sunday, as per the standard plan.

But I woke up on Sunday and noticed that I couldn’t walk to the bathroom without weaving crazily, as though I were drunk, and by the time noon rolled around, I was flat on my back in bed and called out to C that I felt I was “out of spoons” — “spoons” being the common terminology used for people who live with chronic fatigue.

The fatigue became muscle weakness. I couldn’t walk without help, either leaning on C or grasping various pieces of furniture and propping myself up on walls. I was too weak to hold a pen to write longhand, though I could still hold a phone in one hand and tap out messages with the other. I needed help getting out of bed; I could no longer speak a complete sentence; I needed help opening a bottle of coconut water. The picnic was obviously not going to happen, but I was too devastated to mention it.

quilt in a hammock

C looked out the window in our bedroom. We have bay windows in the bedroom, letting in an abundance of light at certain hours, and we could see that the sky was pure blue and bright. “How about we set up that hammock,” he said. He’d bought a hammock last year after being inspired by his father’s hammock at his childhood home in Louisiana.

So he went down to the backyard and set up the hammock. He came back upstairs and helped me down to the backyard, holding me up so that I wouldn’t tumble down the wooden steps. He eased me into the hammock and covered me with a lightweight blue quilt. I looked up at the sky, the sky full of blue and, occasionally, sprinkled with the finches that have returned this spring—finches that warble and show off their bright red bellies, finches that come in boy/girl pairs.

Our friend E came over with hot dogs and tater tots. I ate mine, somewhat messily, in the hammock, dropping food on my sweater. I watched the #bindercon hashtag fill my Twitter feed; I’d taught a workshop at the inaugural BinderCon in New York, a symposium dedicated to women writers, and had been invited to the second one in Los Angeles, but declined for a number of reasons, the primary concern being my health. I wished I were in Los Angeles, watching Claudia Rankine talk about trauma and microaggression, attending the Buzzfeed-sponsored VIP party.

I read the hashtags. I ate my hot dog. I enjoyed the spring air and the sun and my husband and our friend and the sound of Daphne running around the yard after a little orange ball, and it was good.


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  • There is much to take from your words here, Esmé – I have often found it all-too-easy to be frustrated with the moments I have been handed, especially the ones that are in complete opposition to those I had hoped to live out. Acceptance of the situation given seems to be the way forward, and I’m comforted by that which you did here – enjoying what you found yourself doing, despite the other plans you had.

    As always, a beautifully written, and spoken, piece. It is always a pleasure to spend time here, Esmé. You have such a gift.

    • “Especially the ones that are in complete opposition to those I had hoped to live out.” Yes. So much exactly this. I’m glad this piece spoke to you. & I’m always grateful for your comments. We remind one another that we are not alone, and that’s vital. x

  • I’ve been a reader here for some months now, initially for your essays about creativity and writing. I’m commenting for the first time today to thank you for writing so openly here about the tug-and-pull of illness and wellness – I’m starting my own journey with a newly diagnosed condition, and it’s incredibly comforting to know others are out there, making what they can of it on a daily basis (literally and figuratively).

    To send some of your own words back to you: keep going, you’re doing great.

    • This comment means the world to me, absolutely, & helps me to feel as though I’m doing something right. Thank you. And please feel free to keep commenting here, if you feel inclined; I have a feeling you have a lot of wisdom to share with myself and others. x

  • acceptance is the ongoing struggle I have with my illnesses and food intolerances. What you describe here was pain but so beautifully written it took my breath away. C’s actions with the hammock and blanket are love personified. You captured perfectly the blessing among the pain. I hope you are feeling better this week and enjoy your picnic together xx

    • No picnic yet this week, and another hammock afternoon, but perhaps tomorrow? Sending light and love. Sending ease. You are marvelous. x

  • Dear Esmé,

    Thank you for this journal entry. Reading about Chris and you give me hope that maybe someday I will find somebody who will love me despite my illness (I have lupus). Oh, it sounds harsh, I know. I know that I am not my illness and I am so strong. But 5 months ago I broke up with my live-in boyfriend. We have been together for little more than 11 years. In last 2 years he was very dissapointed with me. He was angry that I don’t want to travel, to ride bike, that I am depressed and anxious. He told me that I have destroyed his life, that I am reason he is unhappy. He thought that my fatigue is just laziness, unpredictiness of lupus my excuse. I know that he is good person, that he was just tried of living with somebody who is ill. My mother also had lupus and I know that living with somebody ill is not easy task. So I am far from saying that he is bad person but I long for somebody who will understand… Maybe it is not to be, maybe I should just keep living with myself and build myself.
    There is always anxiety who will help if I will get bedridden but right now I am focusing just on living and building something new. I am trying to earn money as freelancer writer (don’t worry, not in english, this is not my native language), just got new rescue dog (I recently lost my 15-year old dog and was devastated). Sooo… sorry for such long comment. Big hugs for you, Chris and of course Daphne! I am big fan of Esmé Tribe!

    • MissKrupik: Thank you for commenting. My heart aches to read what you’ve written here. I am of the firm belief that everyone is lovable; I do not know the details of the situation you had with your ex-boyfriend, other than what you said here–but from what you said here, it seems like it was a very unfair situation, and for that I am sorry. I hope that having moved on from that situation will open up new opportunities for things such as love, discovering new things about yourself, and going on with the business of, as you said, building yourself. I wish you the best. & please keep me (us! all of us reading this!) updated. Sending big heart-hugs to you. xE