On Vulnerability

It was while standing on the roof of the trailer that it came to me, not a flash but a slow wave of understanding. A vulnerability that has been stewing for the last four months.

The sun was shining bright but low in the sky, midday shadows dark and long across the snow trading space with the sunlight as the world turned on its axis – as it always does – and the sun burned away on its celestial path. The barrage of change and confusion that has come with quitting my position and moving to an isolated chunk of wilderness has left a wake of unknowing, and with that has come fear. And although we have been doing well and enjoying our time in transition, there is always this little voice on my shoulder suggesting that this isn’t going to work out financially, and that our hopes of staying on our land will be undermined. And the fear can be crippling, literally. Some days I wonder how I’m going to be able to work again, even to muster the energy to get out of bed.

But if I have been aware of one thing since moving, it’s that jumping out of my old skin, all of those little things that when we’ve built a home are comfortable and safe, has created a level of vulnerability in me that I don’t know I’ve felt before. A lot of the time it makes me angry, the uncomfortable feeling of being out on the edge of what I’ve known as experience. Other times it fuels depression and melancholy, even walking through the woods on our land.

Over the last while I’ve struggled to feel a part of this place. Of course we have ownership, but my sense of belonging, of interacting with the piece of nature we now own has been at a struggle. I sharpen my chainsaw and hack away at fallen timber to feel like I have a purpose in this context, or I shovel snow, I uncover access to the septic tanks, I wander around the skeleton of our new house.

But this has started to change. I’m not sure what I read or thought that brought this on, but I realized (remembered?) that my presence alone is part of this context. I don’t need to be wielding a chainsaw or shovel to become tighter with the surroundings. I simply need to be here, quietly, and I remind myself that when I’m stepping among the trees. This is my purpose.

So now on the roof of the trailer chipping away at the snow and ice with Tricia inside working on her bookkeeping, it dawned on me. I’m being cared for by someone else, and that is allowing my vulnerability, my rawness, to fully open up. I am here fully as a blank slate, ready to be recreated or redefined into whatever is necessary. I have space right now to do this, to peel away the layers and get at the marrow of who I am.

I have given myself over to my partner. I accept that. This doesn’t place the whole burden on her, but it’s something we share. I hadn’t truly realized what having a “partner” means until now, and our relationship has become that much more unified.

My sense of self is disappearing, one step closer to knowing my place as part of this greater thing that I live in. I endeavor to accept all that is to come, and know that I simply need to be here for it to arrive. I’ll thank the trees later when I’m walking among them today.

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