Sometime early this morning I recall feeling the coolness of the morning breeze, hearing the sounds of the wildlife, and smelling the fragrant scent of jasmine. I had a quite a surprise when I awoke to find the door from my bedroom to the backyard ajar. My initial reaction was, “how did that happen and how long has it been open?” My deduction is that the wind blew it open, or that mastermind feline Macie managed to open it. She manages to open another door to the patio regularly. My mind didn't rest on how the door was opened because my feelings became much more apparent: I felt extremely vulnerable. I would not be your outdoorsy type nor comfortable with various outdoor critters making their way into my home. Nor do I allow any other kind of unwelcomed critters into my bedroom.
This vulnerability has triggered something in me that has prompted my desire to write today. I recognize that this feeling has surfaced in the last few days because I recently learned that I will – for the FIRST time – be living all alone this summer. I have shared my residence with at least one family member or roommate my entire life. I have never, ever lived alone.
Living alone for many, I realize, is a welcomed - perhaps even needed - respite from an otherwise hectic and packed lifestyle. I have many friends that describe their solitude with such richness and warmth and endearment. I look at them in amazement and some disbelief. It is only in the last year that I can embrace solitude for its gift. But I can seek solitude in a number of ways; I don’t need to live alone to experience that. In contrast to solitude, loneliness brings up feelings that are not soul enriching. I have been addressing my loneliness for some time. The intensity of the loneliness has lessened as well as the duration of those intense feelings.
Another concern of mine is responsibility. I must fully recognize that I will go through an adjustment. I’m not very good at routines and the thought of remembering to take out the trash to the garbage container and then take the bins to the curb is slightly unsettling. Add to this the watering of the plants – inside and out – and the daily maintenance of the animals; the pool and the mail; and the overall well-being of the house. I recognize my shortcomings and know that this lack of taking responsibility and being a good caretaker (in this sense, it really is care-taking!) are on my list. I have some anxiety about my really taking on this responsibility. I also know I have an opportunity to show myself my fully functioning adult behavior capabilities and I believe I will rise to the occasion.
Now back to feeling vulnerable. I believe this is what is the crux of the matter to my living alone for the first time in my nearly 50 years. The security, safety, and shared responsibility will no longer be resting on my having someone living with me. It is now solely on me to provide for my own security and well-being. The image that comes to mind is a child, cold and alone, in the wilderness. Whew! That speaks vulnerability to me. The gift in expressing my feelings and exposing my thoughts is that I can now examine them. I can validate my vulnerability and acknowledge my truth, but also choose where I want to go with this information.
The truth is that I am a very capable adult. I have resources to do and hire what I need to do to care for my surroundings. I may have a bit of a challenge to get into the groove of things, but I am a responsible adult and I will care and tend to my needs. I am not a child alone in the wilderness even if there is a part of me that feels that way. The helplessness, uncertainty, confusion…not knowing what to do, if anything…all point to feelings of vulnerability that this morning’s open door exposed. What I have been reading and learning about vulnerability is that as uncomfortable as it may feel, just embrace whatever the circumstance is by daring greatly (see the quote by Theodore Roosevelt used by Brené Brown). By continuing to “show up” in my own life, I am becoming the person I envision myself to be. I am merely entering a new scenic path along my journey. It is where I find myself and what I call The Healing Lane.