Three Illusions worth Shattering

Ronna Detrick
5 min readDec 14, 2022
Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

I received an email from one of my current book coaching clients a few weeks back that included an attachment with words by poet, David Whyte. It more-than captivated and provoked me.

Whyte speaks to three illusions that keep us from fully inhabiting the pilgrimage that is our life, that keep us from living fully.

  • The first illusion is that I can somehow construct a life in which I am not vulnerable.
  • The second illusion is that I can construct a life in which I will not have my heart broken.
  • The third illusion is that I can somehow plan enough and arrange things that I will be able to see the path to the end right from where I’m standing, right to the horizon.

Let’s begin by acknowledging that David Whyte is right: these three things ARE illusions.

Let’s also acknowledge that despite our awareness of just how obvious these illusions are, we keep trying to outwit them.

We don’t want to be vulnerable. We don’t want to have our heart broken. And we do want to plan and arrange everything so that we can see the end from the beginning.


I could talk about WHY we are so determined to outwit these illusions, but I’m guessing you know the answer(s) as well as I do. Instead, what I’m curious about what it looks like, instead, to acknowledge them as true and thereby, to Whyte’s point, inhabit the pilgrimage of our own life and live fully.

I am vulnerable.

My determination to remain impervious to vulnerability has been one of the biggest sources of pain in my life. In an effort to keep a stiff upper lip, believe that “all things work together for good,” and not let anyone see me as broken or imperfect, I have kept myself from grieving, from acknowledging harm, from extending myself (and others) grace, from believing that I am enough and not too much.

It took me a long time (and lots of therapy) to trust myself enough to be vulnerable. Ironically (and of course) it was giving myself permission to cry, to feel, and to let go that invited a life that finally began to resemble something full, instead of compartmentalized, cold, and exhausting. I was, for one of the first times, whole and present and…



Ronna Detrick

I work and write on behalf of women and their re-visioned stories. These days you can find me on Substack.