Little Fox, Cynthia Stehl, 2012

There once was a fox who lived in a forest with lots of other foxes. This little fox was born feeling disconnected from the others around her. A deep sense of loneliness was always with her. She had a strong sense of empathy and felt deeply the emotions of both herself and others. As she grew older, and never found a place to belong, she grew tired of carrying around this lonesomeness, and decided to find a mate. The only mate she could find (she was not a particularly patient fox), she didn’t truly love, but since she adored his large extended family (she only had one brother and one cousin in her family) and they seemed to equally adore her, she decided to make him her mate for life. Now, this little fox knew that once she dedicated herself to something, she gave all of herself over to her decision completely. So, she knew that if she was dedicated and her mate was equally dedicated, then she would come to love and cherish her mate and all would be well. She would no longer be alone. And little fox was very, very afraid of being alone.

Alas, little fox was very naïve about the world. She had a litter of kits and settled into her life, adopting her mate’s views and trying very hard to be a good helpmate. She was an excellent mother to her four little kits, even with some of her young having very trying characteristics. As the years past, the little fox grew stressed and worn out from trying so hard. Everything was slowly unraveling in her life, and though she tried so very hard to repair the broken threads, it unraveled faster than she could mend it. Finally, little fox was forced to admit that for her health, and to be able to continue to care for her young, she had to leave her mate. Little fox had always felt that if she tried hard enough, a solution would always present itself, and everything would work out. She was a very intelligent fox, but was not able to continue in the life she had dedicated herself to.

Then, soon after she left her mate, she fell gravely ill. The great shamans thought she wouldn’t survive. But, little fox had a very strong spirit, and she came through her illness, extremely weak. It was many, many months of recovery. But even as she recovered, she found she wasn’t able to care for her young and also provide food and shelter for them, all by herself. Little fox became so sad she thought it might be better if she were to die. She would lie there and a big black hole would consume her, and the feelings of despair, the like of which she’d never felt before, would overwhelm her. She realized that no one in the forest really cared about her or her young. She was truly all alone, and no one could help her. She had gone around to all the dens she could find, asking for help but she found none. Finally, she came to the decision that it would be better for her kits to live with their father. Little fox was profoundly sad at this, because her life had been all about her young, but she knew that it was the best decision for them, even if it was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do. Unfortunately, her old mate held a grudge against her for leaving, and managed to convince the elders that he should have the kits for good. He replaced her with a new mate and a new mom for the young.

Little Fox was devastated. She wasn’t allowed to participate in her kits’ lives. Her motherhood had defined who she was, and it was now gone. She cast around for what to do with her life. She was now more alone than she’d ever been in her life, and all that she had held dear had been taken away from her. Slowly, little fox learned to look within and get to know herself. She had lived in fear for so long and had never really loved herself, believing that there was something wrong with her because she had never felt she belonged anywhere. She had very few friends and her family lived very far away. She turned away from the Great Spirit because she felt that he wasn’t there for her when she was almost overcome by her trials.

Eventually, she learned to love herself, and with the help of a very supportive fox she met, she slowly learned the value in herself, and that she was someone special. She is still a rather jaded fox, and her optimism has taken a severe beating, but her fox friend is there to help her when she stumbles and to steady her. She is now searching for a community to belong to and a new vocation. She sees her young and is learning to create a new life for herself. Her journey is still continuing, but she has learned that it’s ok to be alone, and that she is a pretty good fox afterall.

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