The woman who’s in the midst of a divorce is no longer married, but not yet single. You’ve left your career; you’re no longer identified by your job title, but you’re not anything you can describe. Your kids leave home; your role as mother is permanently changed. A loved one dies suddenly, permanently altering your reality. Your foundation has shifted or altogether disappeared. And this is life, you’re just supposed to adjust.
When You’re No Longer What You Used to Be, But Not Yet What You Will Be
These are liminal spaces. Periods of time where one is no longer what they used to be and not yet what they’re going to be. The space can be terrifying and incredibly freeing.
Anything That Alters Your Current State of Existence.
Transitions like these trigger our primitive survival mechanisms. The very first instinct is to try to control the uncontrollable. Usually that involves an unrealistic attempt to keep things the way they were. We try desperately to go back in time and act as if what has happened is not permanently altering. Once that wears off, we go into the stages of grief, allowing the change and/or loss to permeate our awareness. Then we attempt to escape what’s happened by forcing ourselves to act as if we’re fine and valiantly soldier forward. All these strategies eventually wear us out physically, bringing us to the best, most recommended course of action, and that is stay still, observe and wait.
Stay Still, Observe and Wait
Precisely what an animal in the wild does when its habitat has been violated, or when it’s been wounded or when a predator is near—it lays low. It finds a safe place to hunker down. It only goes out to get food and water when there are no threats near by and then immediately returns to its place of safety. It spends hours resting and observing. When it is certain that it understands the new lay of the land, it goes about creating its new habitat and routine.
The same thing works for us. Staying still. Taking extreme care of our basic needs. Moving only when certainty is restored. This, of course, is excruciatingly hard for those of us who are used to being always on the move and believe we make things happen. When waiting, we doubt that we’ll ever be sure of anything again so we mistakenly create things that won’t last because they are built on fear and uncertainty.
Trust That a Path Will Show Itself
When and only when we allow time to do it’s work of re-adjusting us to our new reality, will a desire, an idea or a knowing arise and give us the necessary momentum to move forward. It might start as simply as wanting to paint one room a different colour or change our hairstyle. If we follow up on the small desire, other, larger desires, ideas or certainties will emerge; such as applying for a job that before seemed out of reach, or joining a class you’ve always been interested in which introduces you to people who are your ‘tribe.’You are now on your path to your new normal.
Rest. Take good care of yourself. Allow your inner world to adjust. Trust me, you'll know when it's ready.