Being Raw & Vulnerable With The Wolf At The Door.
You’re dangling precariously.
You’re frozen and trembling. You’re gripped with uncertainty and the ominous unknown. The wolf is at the door.
The bills are piling up, but no money is coming in. Or maybe your baby left you, walked right out. Perhaps you’ve made an epic mistake, with disastrous and irrevocable consequences. You can barely breathe, suffocated by the unwieldy weight of your own broken heart.
You frantically scan the landscape, looking for clues or any kind of lifeline. But the vista is barren. You’re shredded into a million bewildering pieces. You’re hanging on for sweet life. Or maybe you don’t know what you’re hanging on to anymore, or if you even can.
This is survival mode. And it will be okay.
Raw vulnerability is the midwife to grace. Stripped of your old safety nets and certainties, you have nothing but openness and new eyes. There is a pouring in of all the things you never noticed before. Even a dew-soaked leaf takes on a fresh poignancy and buys you a nanosecond of peace and beauty.
The very light of day changes. It softens and clarifies. Your pain is not here to batter you. It’s just making passage for perspective, transcendence and rebirth.
No matter the mayhem of the present moment, your heart is still steadily pounding. Your lungs are still expanding and contracting. Oxygen is still coursing through your body. And as you flail around in your anguish, your inner warrior is hard at work behind the scenes: rendering first-aid, holding your broken soul and keeping you alive.
He or she is fighting for you, more ferociously and diligently than you can imagine.
Your mind is your best weapon and your biggest obstacle. It can spin you into infinite madness or ground you in brave resolve. Panic can make it chatter relentlessly, but you can bring it back to earth again.
Step outside. Turn your precious face upward. Breathe. The air and the sky and the sun will calm the clamor. You don’t have to figure it all out right now.
Grief is the natural and real response to loss and hardship.
Despair, however, is grief on steroids. Grief holds its own gentle resolution. Despair is resignation, a long-term forecast for gloom. Fear has an ugly snarl but limited power. Still, it rages like a lunatic, leaving you disoriented.
Courage moves through the chaos, one steady step at a time. Your heartache is like a free fall. You can scramble to fill the void, grabbing for whatever fix you can to numb the jagged edges. You can also persevere with quiet dignity. In every moment there are choices, even in survival mode.
The hardest part of survival mode is the ambiguity.
It will not budge. There is no clear pathway to relief, or even a guarantee that you’ll find it. You are at the mercy of time and forces beyond your control. Such is the nature of ambiguity. Your present circumstances merely accentuate the point.
But even within the ambiguity there is possibility.
Although you’re shaking on the edge, there is a larger view available. This current difficulty, with all its sorrow, dread and anger, is just a blip on a much greater narrative. There is spaciousness, wonder and the divine gift of impermanence.
All are there for you. There is elegant liberation in releasing your weary clutch. You have already traveled for eons. Grace is the tender seraph pulling you home, wherever that may be.
And you will be okay.
Katy Bourne is a self-described ‘basic goober making her way in the world’. A child of the Southern plains, she spent her Oklahoma childhood throwing rocks, blowing saxophone in the school band and riding horses. The youngest of four, she was often left to her own devices and entertained herself by making faces in the bathroom mirror and dressing up the family pets. Having navigated numerous life challenges over the years — addiction & recovery, the death of a child, divorce, the ups & downs of parenthood, the music business — she is particularly interested in exploring themes of survival, grit and grace in the face of ambiguity. Katy makes her home in Seattle, WA. By day, she writes promotional copy for musicians and bands. By night, she sings jazz at nightspots, festivals and private events throughout the Northwest. You could contact her via her website.