Julia Harwell Segars

Julia Harwell Segars

Recently, I slipped down into the suds of my garden tub to soak in the soothing words of a podcast on “The Power of Vulnerability.” But I Suwannee, you’re never more vulnerable than when a crazed jet tub defies death and threatens to suck you into a bubble vortex.

And trust me – at that moment, you don’t hold any power.


The Incident of my Undoneness began exactly 3:08 minutes into the presenter’s profound insights on the benefits of exposing your flank. With more than 28 million views, this 20-minute jewel surely promised enlightenment. It also was about the longest time a tub of water would stay hot.

So I propped up my IPhone on the tub deck – away from any threat of water damage, but close

enough to see the video.

“By the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realize is that connection is why we’re here,” said the presenter, an author and research professor. “It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

Ooh, this is good stuff, I thought, sinking deeper into the water infused with aroma-therapeutic

essential oils and a milk-bath product. Fred was co-medicating in another room with a beer and a

recording of “Training Days: Rolling with the Alabama Crimson Tide.”

The podcast presenter went on to reveal that shame unravels connection. She defined shame as

something about a person that, if others knew it or saw it, would make that person unworthy of

connection. “The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability,” she said. “This idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.”

That was about the moment I turned on the air jets in the tub. Connection really happened exactly 5:25 into the show.

This requires a bit of background …

A few years ago, Fred and I decided to install a jet tub in the master bath. When I went to pick out a tub, the plumbing fixture saleswoman talked me into buying a model with air jets instead of water jets.

“It’s the latest thing,” she said with gusto. “Everybody loves them.” She leaned toward me, true

concern for my health furrowing her brow. “The air circulators don’t carry all those icky standing-water germs you find in water jets.” I bit – hook, line and sinker.

OK. I was an idiot. How’s that for vulnerability?

But after installing our sanitarily superior porcelain spa, we soon discovered that the jet pressure

would barely budge from all-out pelting, despite attempts to regulate it. It left you in welts and shot water into the air and over the tub edges like a geyser.

Because a long soak is meant to de-stress, I rarely fight the crashing jet waves. But the siren’s song of psycho-insights lured me back in. No reason to let the past inform the present. I was like the kid who licked the frozen flagpole.

I pushed the button to turn on the jets. The air exploded underneath the surface, erupting into two- foot water spouts and exponentially expanding the milk-bath bubbles in seconds. I pushed the button again to tamp down the pressure. Nothing.

Then I pushed the off button. Nothing.

Then I threw a towel over the phone to protect it from further water assault, and tried several more times to turn off the jets. Nothing.

With both arms outstretched, I tried to corral the foam back into the confines of the tub. Again, I

pushed the button, using a different finger, at a different angle. Nothing.

Finally, I had to allow myself to be seen – really seen. Boy, do I hate pulling out the helpless woman card. It really chaps my rear. “Fred!” I yelled, hoping he would hear me above Nick Saban and the blasting air jets. “Fred! Come here, please! I need you.”

I simultaneously began draining the tub and running clean water to wash the bubbles off my body, which by now resembled the Michelin Man’s babe, and truly expose my flank and my rear.

The killer tub quickly evoked a full-blown Fred Fit when he could not tame the beast. He made

three trips down to the basement breaker box to shut off the power, the third try finally bringing the bubble monster to a gurgling death.

We retreated, psychologically wounded, back to our respective corners.

“I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it

appears that it’s the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love,” Professor Touchy-Feely continued, totally unperturbed by The Incident of My Undoneness. Bless her heart.

The secret to fulfillment, she concluded at 19:01, is to love with our whole hearts and “to let

ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen.”

Mission accomplished.

Aunt Sister is a Southern Lady who was raised right but overcame it, bless her heart. Aunt Sister the book is available at Auntsister.com. On FB and Twitter: @auntsistersays