It’s funny how the same themes surface over and over throughout a lifetime. For me, it’s always balancing strength with vulnerability. My tendency is to keep people at a distance until life hands me some shit storm and I have no other choice but to discover that, yes, I do have a support network.

Earlier this year I learned a lesson about surrender when I got sick and had to depend heavily on the help of others, primarily my awesome husband. It was a hard lesson, particularly because I’m so used to being able to do things for myself. But I was completely knocked down and couldn’t even do basic things like dress myself without help. For a while, it was hard to even hold a glass of water without pain.

As I recovered, I reconstituted the armor that had been stripped away. I grew determined to be independent and strong again. And while I always appreciate the support network for being there when I need them, my preference is to not need them.

The problem with armor is that it’s heavy and neither good nor bad can penetrate. This impenetrable armor makes the life of a warrior a lonely one, and for me loneliness has always been both about self-imposed isolation and closing off my heart to others.

I’m in the home stretch of my 500 hour YTT and I’ve had two trainings over the last two weekends wherein the message was for me to open my heart. When I get too stuck in my head, those old patterns reappear, but when my heart is open I can be vulnerable and follow my dharma with the support of my various tribes.

And yes, it’s good to be vulnerable and still protect myself from the wolves. In fact, this is precisely the challenge for the warrior: To be fierce and discerning, but vulnerable and lead with compassion.