“We Have to Break Ourselves Open”: Navigating the Spaces of Uncertainty and Fear

Today has floated by like a dream – the kind where you can’t get quite find  your footing, and you are left feeling distant, disconnected, and drained. Earlier, I was sitting on the GO bus, crossed legged, books resting on my lap. Out the window, the world passed by in a blur – the rich soil and greenery of the farmers’ fields, old dilapidated barns, small roads snaking off the highway into the trees, the clouds dusted across the light blue expanse. My day has felt this sense of blurring, the haze of dipping in and out of consciousness – like the low sun dipping in and out of the treeline and my view.

My life is in a state of transition. I have been shaken up, split open. I find myself standing (crouching?) in a space of unknowing.

How do you define ‘space’?

I think of the space of another’s body (their hands tracing you, their weight next to you, their very presence), the space of the home you spent years building (the nest, the details, the way you shared it, the way it reflected you), the space you occupied playing certain roles (partner, lover, supporter, caregiver), the space within yourself that housed your feelings (comfort, love, stability, softness, playfulness, excitement, joy)…What happens when they all drop away? Where is ‘home’ now? (As of September, I have absolutely no idea!)

Two weeks ago, it seemed more clear (note: this does not equal easy)- but coming back into town has really triggered me. Two days ago, sitting on the grass at the farm, light and possibility filled the spaces beneath my skin – now, the spaces are clogged and bogged down with a heavy sense of fear.

Where does fear grab you? How does it sit in your body?

Fear lives in the tightness of my chest and the spaces around my heart. Fear makes me forget to breathe. Fear pulls me underwater and takes hostage my lungs. It breeds and multiplies between my ribs and travels through my muscles, radiating up past my clavicles, up through my neck. Fear clouds my vision, and dulls my dreams. Fear tells me that I’m not good enough, fear echoes those sharp words of my past that make me feel small and invisible, fear tells me that I need to suck it up and settle for whatever reality I have because it’s the best I will get. Fear taunts me, ‘who are you to make a change or make a difference?’ and other bullshit (but completely believable at the time) stories.

I am not my fear. And neither are you!

The process of grief is interesting. The intermingling of both sadness/fear and the excitement of new possibilities. Your mind oscillating between what you’ve lost and what’s yet to come. There is no right or wrong way to feel. It is okay.

In her book, Wild Mind, Natalie Goldman writes that “we have to break ourselves open” to become great writers. “A writer must be willing to sit at the bottom of the pit, commit herself to stay there, and let all the wild animals approach, even call them on, then face them, write them down, and not run away“.  We must be willing to face and to write our fears, our vulnerabilities, and our darkness. It’s okay, We are safe.

What has been an experience of transition and uncertainty for you?

So much love,


6 thoughts on ““We Have to Break Ourselves Open”: Navigating the Spaces of Uncertainty and Fear

  1. Lori DiNardi says:

    This is wonderful reflection. You’ve expressed much of what’s gone through my mind at different times in my life too. I know this doesn’t usually help at the moment, but whatever it may be … it will pass. All those times I felt worried about my future, they passed. Lately, I tend to find other reasons to fear, then I get mad at myself. Thank you for reminding me, it’s okay. ;-P. Blessings to you in this time of unknowing.

    • allthesoftplaces says:

      Aw Lori, thank you so much for your beautiful words! Instead of sulking and hiding away from the fear of uncertainty (which has always been my old methods), I am choosing this time to walk straight into the unknown and trust that everything will work out in some form or another (all the desperate-grasping-for-control does, is leave me feeling anxious and drained). Of course, I need to carve out lots of space for grief and release.

      Here’s to embracing the unknown! There are exciting possibilities ahead somewhere 🙂 xo.

    • allthesoftplaces says:

      Ellie! I know, it’s so strange. Every single person I’ve talked to is going through similar experiences. It seems like we’re all either stuck, floating, struggling for meaning and guidance in some way or another. Thanks so much for your fantastic support, and sending so much goodness your way! xo.

  2. caperpoet says:

    Hi Sharon: So much raw emotion and you are so courageous to sit with it, listen to what it has to teach you and honour you and your story. I have been there with all those fears during a great and painful change (breakup, health issues, etc.) and am sending you love for those broken places that are fertile ground for endless possibilities. xo Tanya

    • allthesoftplaces says:

      oooooh gorgeous words, Tanya! I’m grinning so much from reading them. It’s so good to know that we’re not alone in our painful experiences. Something great will emerge from this, I know. Sending you so much love and support back ❤


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