The Space in Between

Life exists in cycles.....conception, birth, death. The seasons follow a similar pattern: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Tides ebb and flow with the lunar cycle, which also follows a similar path: New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, Third Quarter. Nature has a pattern.

I’m here to discuss the period in between birth and death... aka your life. More specifically, I’d like to talk about the space in-between an ending ( job, relationship, other life event) and the beginning of the next phase. This is a space that I’ve inhabited many times over the course of my 50 years and it’s only been recently, during this latest go round, that I’ve really started to think about the significance of this in-between place. 

There have been countless studies done on transition and its effects. One of my favorite authors on the subject is William Bridges..check him out! (www.wmbridges.com)
So while I’m not an authority on the subject of transition, I am an expert on my own experiences, which I will share here.

I’m in the midst of my most recent journey into the space in between. From time to time, I try to remind myself that struggle is pointless. This ride is going to follow its own path and my opinions are neither welcome nor important. I’m trying to learn to relax into the unknown and have faith that the Universe is benevolent and has my best interests in mind. The ongoing mental soundtrack of “What if? What if? What if?” does not serve me.Rather than focusing on the worst that could happen, why not shift my attention to what’s the best thing that could happen? I know which one feels better. Why not give that a try?

Here’s a reality check: I have a roof over my head, I have a job, I have a full refrigerator, I have friends and family who love me, I have an education, I have my health, and that’s just the beginning! Gratitude for what I have helps to shift me back to a more productive space. A space where I can exercise my creativity, explore topics that interest me, spend time with people who inspire me, brainstorm with people who have taken risks and found success. I’ve also learned that I can be annoyed, frustrated, and angry about my current situation.....and find gratitude. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

Here’s another thing: misery loves company. Obsessing about what I don’t like, the areas of my life that aren’t working exactly how I’d like, concentrating on the ways that I find myself lacking.....well, that’s another type of cycle. Downward spiral. You know, that feeling of being stuck in quicksand, unable to pull yourself back to safety. Negative thoughts are kind of like that, for me at least. Left unchecked, one leads to another and another and another until that’s all I can see. That is the definition of unmanageability for me...and I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t hard to deal with. I’m a bit of a control freak....albeit, much better than I used to be. I pride myself on being self-sufficient and independent, so when I can’t figure something out, it makes me craaaaaazy!

But, one of the things I most grateful for is the opportunity to practice surrender and acceptance when I’m in that crazy place. Granted, it’s not always the first thing that comes to mind, but, over time, it’s moved up my list of options. Actually, I’m grateful I have options today. Back in the day, before I started doing some (much needed) interior work, I would stuff my feelings until there was no more room. What to do? Option 1: find a way to check out, usually by self-medicating with alcohol, food, or other substances. Option 2: explode. If option 2 won out, the target of my rage could be whoever was within range, but more often, it was myself. These days, I no longer drink alcohol, and option 2 happens much less often, thank goodness.

So, here are today’s thoughts on the space in-between: I can struggle or I can relax into the unknown. Choosing the former will not speed up the time spent in this ambiguous place, but it will make my stay more painful. Kind of like when you’re caught in an undertow....you can thrash around trying to make it back to shore.....or, you can keep your eye on the horizon and float or calmly tread water until you’re out of the undercurrent. A wise friend likened this space to a hammock, stretched between what was and what is to be. I like that image. 

I can take advantage of this space to rejuvenateand prepare for what’s ahead, even if I don’t know exactly what that looks like. I can grab a cool beverage (non-alcoholic, of course!) and take a load off! I imagine this hammock situated on a beautiful beach, hung between two palm trees. The warm tropical breeze is intoxicating and soothing all at once. The soft waves lull me to a state of ultimate calm and relaxation as I decide to climb into that hammock and rest. It’s a respite from my exhausting and failed attempts to control the uncontrollable. I get to breathe. I get to regroup. I get to surrender.

Sounds pretty sweet to me!