My friend forwarded me a newsletter today. She knew it would have significant meaning to me based on current circumstances. I wrote her back and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that I can identify with as much as that newsletter.” It is called “The Space Between Stories” and was written by author, Lissa Rankin, MD. She does a better job of portraying life in the void than anyone I know.
I gave my friend an update: “I am raw. I can’t work. Most of the day I stare into space praying I’m not losing my mind. I’m back in Florida where at least the energy is much gentler. I don’t socialize, other than with (my son and his girlfriend) who have been wonderful. I don’t take or return calls from anyone, because I just don’t feel I have much to report. I do exercise, kind of like Forrest Gump. Indoor cycling and a hearty walk on the beach every day remind me that I’m somewhat alive and in control. No doubt, the space between is deep, dark and painful, but like everyone else, I will survive…I hope.”
Yes, I can actually stare into space for hours. Only when I’m in the space between. As Dr. Rankin says, “when you’re in this space between stories, the only thing to do is rest.” Um, yeah, because you basically have no other choice! Forcing myself to work only triggers a lot of tears and feelings of failure, then self-loathing and more tears. Apparently that is not the best use of this time.
The fact is, I have no idea how to proceed with anything right now anyway. This void I’m in is not about the end of a significant relationship, even if I’ve expressed that in former blogs. It is the ending of everything I knew myself to be. I no longer feel like a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece. I’m no longer a romantic partner, or confidant to a man I cherished. He’s found another to fill those needs and as much as it paralyzed me, I realize the void began long before that event.
I no longer feel like an entrepreneur, as my business has gone into hibernation. I’m no longer the coach and the motivator that people sought out for direction. I can barely lift my own chin and find myself actually stepping back from others who seek emotional support from me now (so opposite the old me). I’m no longer the life of the party, the outgoing, smily, jokester. To the contrary, I prefer to avoid events if at all possible because I relish my time alone. Maybe I’ve become a philosopher?
I still train audiences occasionally, but find it increasingly difficult, as my perspective on things change so quickly that I often feel like a fake at the front of the class.
I still have writing projects, including 2 books I’m ghostwriting (1 that is wayyyy past deadline), yet I no longer feel like a writer (hard as that is to admit) and I struggle to find the words. The only writing that seems to come naturally and have meaning is my journaling.
I no longer feel that my dreams and passions mean a darn thing. My life long dream of being a published author doesn’t hold the fascination it used to. It’s not the end-all-be-all for me that it has been the majority of my life.
No. I’m not depressed (although I’ve questioned that myself many times). No, I’m not lazy. No, I’m not giving up on me nor on life. I’m in the space between. I’m in life’s transition that strips us down, all of us at one point or another. This is my time, whether I like it or not. And after fighting it for over 2 years, I put the boxing gloves down and I’m accepting it, facing it, and I’m no longer running from it.
By the way, my transition may look nothing like yours, but if it helps to makes yours a little smoother, take a peek at mine…
In my transition, I’m learning that I am required to stand naked in front of the world; of course all the while I wonder when I’ll have my clothes handed back to me, thank you very much. I sometimes think that I may never get them back! Could this be my real purpose? To stand here naked in front of the whole world for the rest of my life and explain how it feels? (The silver lining is that I’ve kept up with all those indoor cycling classes…this naked bod ain’t so bad looking anymore).
I have felt naked on and off throughout my life, but never as prominently and as continuously as I have the last 2.5 years. It was the beginning of 2014 when the first “garment” was yanked off me. I felt it happening. I saw God yank it off of me. I wasn’t completely sure what was happening so I laughed. A nervous sort of laugh. I pretended it was temporary. Just God’s way of getting my attention or directing my focus onto something I needed to do.
But deep down inside, I couldn’t lie to myself. I couldn’t deny the truth. That the yanking of that one garment was the beginning of the end for me. The end of who I knew myself to be. The end of all the silly optimistic goals I set for myself. The end of accumulating “stuff” to keep up with the Joneses. The end of squeezing into some societal mold (even if I didn’t love the mold, I often felt obligated to conform and that would drive my soul batshit crazy).
Scariest of all, I knew it was the beginning of the end of attachments that kept me feeling grounded, stable, oriented, needed, loved…human! It was the beginning of the end to security and…the end to logic! The end to a myriad of beliefs I held in high-esteem. The end of a paradigm. The end of me.
But I wasn’t about to accept that! So I laughed. I laughed in God’s face (affectionately of course). I said, “Sure God. Its okay if you take that one garment, but that’s all you get! You know how long and hard I’ve worked to get where I’m at right now! You know the obstacles I’ve overcome to get this far! You know the work I’ve done on myself to be a better person! You know how much I give to others! You know I deserve to be in a loving relationship! You know I have a purpose! I’m quite sure you’re the one who gave me that purpose to begin with! I thought you were on board with all this!?”
Then I coerced God into revisiting my plans and purpose with me. I told Him there was no point in broadsiding me financially (or otherwise) when I was soooo darn close to reaching my goals! And I assured Him of all the great things I had planned to do once those goals were achieved – saving the world, fixing broken systems, feeding the hungry, etc. etc.
After giving God a full review, I patted Him on the back and thanked Him for His continued support and for providing the things I needed to get the job done efficiently. “No more setbacks, okay?” I smiled. When my presentation was over, I basked in the false confidence that I’d gotten my point across, then I went back to living as usual.
He yanked off another garment.
One after another, after another. Until the only thing I had left to conceal my lady parts, were my own hands (and believe me, two hands don’t provide all that much coverage).
Over the last couple months (especially the last week), my hands dangle by my sides. I don’t care to cover up anymore. Its more effort than necessary. I’m also no longer waiting for my clothes to be handed back to me. That may never happen. So, I’m slowly learning to get comfortable fully exposed. As author Brené Brown put it, “I feel like a turtle without a shell in a briar patch.”
The shell is gone. The clothes are gone. The old paradigm is gone. The familiar is gone. The comfort I grew to expect – all gone. Relationships have changed dramatically. Finances have changed dramatically. Promises of growing old together (with a man I latched onto for dear life), are no longer made to me. The loss of home, community, career, finances, intimate relationship, etc. etc., I am at least grateful that God has allowed my sense of “mothering” to remain in tact, as my relationship with both my son and his sweetheart grows closer with the years.
I am most definitely in the space between. But as I understand it from others who have been there, the life that begins after the void is beyond amazing. That is, if we don’t force that life to begin before its time. That takes patience. And more importantly, it takes faith. Faith. That seems to be the #1 requirement for living, more now than ever. I often feel I signed up to be a “early adopter” of faith. To walk the path of blind faith (as much of a baby as I can be walking the path) to lead the way for the majority when their times comes to be in the space between. I may not always be the best model of faithful behavior (you should see the things I write in my journal!) but I’m getting better at it all the time.
The void can rock your world. That is what it is intended to do. To break down all the former systems and provide the foundation for the perfect system. The true purpose. In actuality, there is no greater gift. But, never the less, getting through it can be challenging.
It is the wisdom of loving souls like Lissa Rankin, MD that help a wretch like me to hold on tight through the process. She says: “If you get overwhelmed, rest in the sanctuary of your blown open heart, where you will know that this stripping down is not a punishment; it is an answer to a silent prayer for freedom that you may not even remember praying.” (Be sure to read her insightful blog!)
Hang on tight! If I can get there, anyone can!
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