2017, brave, Brene Brown, grief

A Paradox


I recently finished Brenè Brown’s latest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Once again her words spoke right to me – into the center of my being, into the light of my soul.

Her definition of true belonging:

…the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are (p.40).

This past year, and perhaps even beyond that, I’ve discovered my true belonging. I haven’t changed who I am to meet the needs of others. I haven’t changed my speech or thoughts or needs to make others more comfortable. I am standing in the wilderness fully me.

However, I’ve discovered that the wilderness can be a lonely place.

I belong to me that I know. But, beyond that, I’m not sure where else I belong these days. I often feel out of place. I belong and yet I don’t belong. I feel as though I’m living in the middle of a paradox – still in the middle of both/and.

By risking vulnerability and authenticity, I’ve set myself somewhat a part from the rest of the world around me. Because I’m still wading my way through this grief, I intentionally I have to set myself a part from certain people and places. Whether intentional or not, I very much feel like I have nowhere to land, aside from the safety and peace that our home provides. Everywhere else feels a little unsafe, a little unknown.


Last week a co-worker announced in front of a group of 15 people that her son is going to be a big brother. As everyone clapped and congratulated her, I felt the air leave the room. I could tell there was some semblance of a smile on my face, but while they kept going, everything seemed to slow down for me. I felt really out of place. I wanted to scream and cry and run out of the room. I wanted to yell at her for being so insensitive for sharing something like that, even though she has no idea what I’m going through.

I spent the rest of my energy that day (from 9 am to 9 pm) holding back my feelings. It was exhausting. By the time I got into my car and started driving home, I could feel the release coming. Soon the sobs could no longer be held back and I cried the rest of the way home. And then, when I got home, I cried some more.

A paradox: it’s so unfair and I’m happy for her.

I wonder, if I had truly been present to the wilderness, would I have allowed myself to cry? Would I have allowed myself to be present to my feelings?

It’s hard to be in the wilderness in midst of a two-day long board meeting.


I spend more time alone now than I used to. Part of that is due to Brad’s travel schedule. Part of that is because I don’t have as much time to sew, so when I have a free evening, I spend it alone sewing. Part of it, however, is because the wilderness is lonely and I haven’t come across other people out there yet.

Surely there are others who mourn the loss of a child that never was? Surely there are others who have come to terms with their body but are also really mad and sad about it too? Surely there are others who don’t see infertility and adoption as cause and effect? Surely there are others who understand?

I think I may just be on the edge of the wilderness. Maybe I haven’t walked far enough – like at a skating rink where I only stay on the wall – perhaps there’s more to find if I let go.


…when we deny our emotion, it owns us. When we own our emotion, we can rebuild and find our way through the pain (p. 67).

I own it: I’m sad and angry. I know there are many others out there that are sad and angry too. Maybe we don’t have to share the same story – maybe we just need someone who understands what it feels like to be sad and angry. Then, together, we can find ways to rebuild, not the same roads, but ones that may intersect or parallel each other for awhile.

Thankfully I do have some of those people in my life. I may come across some others that share a similar story someday. In the meantime, I will keep taking steps into the wilderness while holding onto the hands of those who are standing close by.


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