On Being In-Between

Sometimes we live in limbo. It seems we are in-between steps in our journey. We are finishing one step and preparing for another step but it appears that nothing is happening in that space. Are you there? Have you ever been there? Is it possible you might be there again someday? I know this place and I’m beginning to think about it differently. I don’t think limbo is really limbo. I think it’s just a part of the process of living and as much, if not more, happens in our development during that phase.
A year ago I was temporarily living in Durham, NC while my daughter got a life-saving double lung transplant. On October 12, 2013 she received her transplant and was recovering at Duke University Hospital. That journey was full of waiting: waiting for an answer on what to do about her damaged-by-Cystic-Fibrosis lungs, waiting to be on the waiting list for donor-lungs, waiting with mixed emotions for the “right” person to die (loss for one family meant life for my daughter…hard to work through that!), waiting for her to heal after her surgery, waiting for rejection to go away, waiting for getting back to living a normal life. Now we are in a new waiting phase as she has battled lymphoma since June. Today, it’s waiting to find out if the chemo worked. We won’t have an answer until early December.
Lots of limbo. Going through this season has been one of intense growth. It isn’t about waiting for the situation to change. It’s been about growing each moment of each day while not knowing very much about the next moment. But isn’t that how every day is, really? We never know without a doubt what is going to happen in the next moment. We think we do. We have bought into the lie that we have control and things should work out the way we want them to. As time is marching on and we are less insulated from the pain and unpredictability around the world, we are beginning to understand the concept of living in the moment and not hanging on too tightly to our expectations of how we believe life should be for us.
I challenge you to accept where you are right now. You don’t have to stay there forever, but it is reality for right now. Growing has more to do with accepting reality than pretending it’s not happening. Are you thinking about ending a relationship, changing jobs or in the middle of your own health crisis? You’re not certain of the ending, but to be certain is an illusion. Do what you need to do to get through this moment. Sometimes that may be taking a breath, feeling the air come in and out while acknowledging your presence in the here and now. You may not have the answers right now, but that is ok. I believe the answers will come in their time. As you breathe, let go of the need to predict your future. You can’t predict it and hanging on to the future is sucking energy and focus that is useful for growing in this moment.
I found this quote and put it on the wall of my daughter’s hospital room while she endured her chemo treatments:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” ~Vivian Greene

Stay Grounded in Reality

I recently ventured on a potentially dangerous worry path.  I have two daughters who are in college.  One is in California, the other is in Arizona.  I live in Colorado.  We are not geographically close.  I have been talking to my daughters every few days lately as they have been getting settled in and so much is new in their lives right now.  After a few unsuccessful attempts to reach one of my daughters over the course of two days, it dawned on me that she had not texted or called…no reply.  This was unusual for her.  I was preparing to doze off for the night when a thought occurred to me: Maybe she was kidnapped.  Yeah, that’s a pretty extreme thought.  She has two suitemates and lives across the hall from the RA.  I think someone would have notified me; however, before I got to that thought I was starting to swirl in the worry zone.  Before my thoughts got out of hand, I stopped them.  I had just called her before going to bed, so I wasn’t going to call again.  I reminded myself that my daughter has roommates who would tell someone if she unexpectedly disappeared.  I decided if I still hadn’t heard from her by morning, I could contact her roommate.  There was nothing more for me to do at that point.  Then I started thinking about happy things…a meadow filled with hues of green, lush, dense growth, sunlight streaming through the trees, warmth in the air…zzzzz.
When thoughts begin spinning out of control, remind yourself of the things you know to be true.  Anchor your thoughts to facts and reality.  The more you train your brain to stay with truth, the quicker you will get there.  You have to work at it though.  Our inclination is to create stories and then our emotions follow the fiction.  I often equate creating healthier thoughts to changing our eating habits.  If we want to lose weight, we have to put down the bag of chips, walk away from the cake and get moving.  It’s the same with thought changes…put down the fiction and think about the undeniable truth in that moment.
By the way:  My daughter had left a message on the home phone which I hadn’t checked.  I discovered that bit of truth the next day when my daughter called and said, “Didn’t you get my message?”  🙂