Finding My Outdoors – The Struggle to Trust Others, Trust Myself and Let Go

Photo credit by author.

 “Outdoors means outside of what’s comfortable for you…The outdoors is much more this idea of being vulnerable and exposed and outdoors of what’s comfortable for you in your life.”

Those words stuck out to me yesterday as I was listening to the podcast She Explores on my drive into work. I was nursing a sore throat with a steaming fresh cup of black coffee, whizzing by barren trees languishing in the dead of fall, and I was suddenly intent on listening to this interview with traveler, backpacker, photographer, and blogger Erin Sullivan

As a runner and budding hiker, it’s no surprise that I’m interested in being outdoors. However, this interview on She Explores made me realize how much more progress I need to make in being “outdoors” in my writing and more importantly, in my personal life. This lack of progress I’m referring to in large part stems from my deeply rooted lack of trust.

As a kid, my mom was arguably my best friend. I can’t remember what exactly we talked about, but I can always remember how she made me feel. She wanted to listen to me talk, and I felt accepted. She wanted me to be heard, and I thought I could tell her anything, “No secrets Grace, remember you can tell me anything. You can trust me.”  Yeah, she said that a lot. 

I remember thinking as a kid that as I grew up I would tell my mom everything. I had a vague idea at the time of what it meant to become older. I had every intention of telling my mom about every crush, every friend; every fight and every breakup; every hope and every dream. Until one day, when all that was robbed from me. 

A child’s trust is naive. A child’s trust is innocent. But a child’s trust also runs deep, like a river channeling through the bottom of a canyon. It’s raw and unwielded and real. It’s unadulterated of expectations and fears. But my sense of trust as a child was crushed long before I even knew the wrecking ball was coming. I didn’t know when I was watching my mom take her last few breaths in her hospital bed that I would search constantly thereafter for a sense of trust in others that didn’t exist. And through that exhausted search, I grew to trust people less and less.

My relationships with people have undoubtedly been impacted from this lack of trust. I often listen to others more than I speak to others. I hold myself back, scared of how others might perceive me. I fear judgment. And when I do speak, while I share parts of my life that are real, they rarely speak to the full picture of who I really am. I’m calculated, even when I seem candid, probably more so than my dearest family and friends may even know or understand. 

In the wake of my mom’s death, I haven’t learned how to rebuild my trust in others. I haven’t built this trust in others because I tortured myself in self-doubt. And somewhere along the way, I guess I just stopped trusting myself. 

Maybe I’ll never experience the kind of trust I felt from my mom ever again. And that’s ok. I can accept that that’s ok. Or well, I can learn to accept that that’s ok. By setting the intention of accepting that that’s ok, I’m learning to trust myself through letting go. And through letting go, I can be open to trusting others, and accepting all of the messy and flawed and beautiful consequences that could arise as a result. 

With writing today’s post, I’m taking a leap of faith outdoors into the wilderness of my vulnerability. I’m ready to become more open to myself, to let go in an act of trusting myself, trusting others, and trusting the universe and I think that’s a pretty good start. 

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