Confessions of Someone Whose Skin is Being Ripped Off

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered” – GK Chesterton.

“A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.”  John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic

There is something about this adventure that is exposing parts of me I never even knew existed. There is something about removing life’s small conveniences that has stripped me of my power to subdue the darker parts of myself, while simultaneously revealing to me all the potential this life has to offer.

Why this? Why now? Frustrations with my children reach higher levels than before, yet five minutes later I find myself filled with such compassion for them, and love, and tenderness, that I’m not sure what to do about it. One moment I find myself wondering how I will make it through another 14 weeks on the road – the next moment I cannot comprehend living in one place for an extended period of time, ever again.

Don’t worry – I’m not losing my mind. I don’t think so, anyway. But I am losing something. Perhaps by heading out on an adventure such as this, freeing myself from so many of the normal constraints, a truer sort of me is coming out. That’s what it feels like anyway. Remember that part in Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Aslan confronts Eustace (who has been turned into a dragon after sleeping on dragon treasure) and gently but painfully removes his skin? Here it is

Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

The very first tear he made was so deep and I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

I’m willing now, perhaps more so than at any other point in my life, to have my calloused skin torn off. This trip has positioned me for just such a hide removal. And even though it hurts, I’m excited to see what kind of person will emerge.

What events in your life have torn off your outer hide? What were the positive things that emerged from the pain?

18 Replies to “Confessions of Someone Whose Skin is Being Ripped Off”

  1. I’ve experienced this on longer backpacking trips with groups of people. I would imagine traveling like this takes away some small “safety zones” from you. They might be a place in the house or a chore that gives you mental space. I’m sure all of you will develop new routines and ways to take care of yourselves. Keep communicating, keep loving, and enjoy the ride! ;-)

  2. Oh, my friend. This is haunting in its honesty and for that I thank you. They say life is short, but I contend it is also long. Long enough to have these marathon events, where you want to die and live at the same time. When the pain of driving one more mile seems like one more long nail before the dirt is thrown on the coffin, but you keep driving anyway. Keep driving.

  3. That scene in Voyage of the Dawn Treader is one my favorites! I’m often reminded of it. We listened to the dramatic audio version for months in the car and fell in love :)

  4. You are definitely losing your mind. This is what it is like, even for someone who actually “loses their mind.” Ernest Becker would say we create all these “comforts” in order to avoid the reality that we are creatures that die – that all our comforts of houses, and jobs, and roles, are all ways to pretend we are immortal. When people have psychotic breaks, many times the ability to “fool themselves” as we “normal” people do, breaks down and they experience life as it is.

    1. I’ve definitely lost much of my ability to fool myself. I feel that the swings of life have higher highs and lower lows when we remove the governor of normalcy. Good or bad?

  5. When I got married, both my husband and I were forced to deal with our past in order to create a stronger marriage. It was not easy nor painless. It was however the best thing we could have done for each other.

  6. If this is all happening to you now, have you thought about what it might be like 2 or 3 months from now? Aslan’s claws might get pretty deep.

    But I think it will be good.

    Though it makes me just a wee bit afraid of who I might encounter in Portland this May. :)

  7. I think I get what you’re saying here more than I might have at earlier points in my life. Also wanted to stop by because I see you’ll be at Killer Tribes. Sweet. Look forward to meeting you IRL. Enjoy the journey.

  8. This was an excellent account of personal change. Thank you for sharing it.
    In my own experience, I was diagnosed with, and had surgery to remove a renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer).
    It was caught early, but has changed my outlook on life significantly since.

    As a matter of a fact, I’m having my first 6 month follow up MRI the day before your visit. You’ll be among the first to know the results.

    However it turns out, please know that any pain I endured pales in comparison to traveling with children across the country! :^}
    You sir, are my hero!

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