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Jan28

The Move (Part 4): Sitting in the Gap

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The turn of this new year has felt a little strange. It came about during an in-between season of my life. Often the Christmas season ushers forth a sense of conclusion or a wrapping up of sorts to the year. Those few days between exchanging gifts and ringing in the sparkly new year typically provide the perfect opportunity to reflect on the adventures afforded and the heartaches borne. Hope usually rises as I begin to envision a new start and wonder and anticipate what lies ahead. But this year was quite different.

The unexpected move-pocalypse of 2015 has yet to be fully unpacked and understood. We are each still wrestling and sorting out how this shift in location will continue to alter the trajectory of our narratives. And the uncertainty of how or when this new place will ever begin to feel like home is evidence of the in-between nature of our current circumstances. In the past, these kinds of narrative gaps, the vowels between the consonants, the spaces between what was and what will be – these have been difficult spaces for me to find rest. I’ve often tried to hurry through them, assuming that plowing through transition as quickly as possible is what is best for all involved so that a new normal can be established. On other occasions involving transition, I’ve simply busied myself or distracted myself, or self-soothed by employing go-to addictions – all likely an unconscious effort (most of the time) to avoid feeling the stripping away effect transition can have upon one’s sense of identity, or belonging, or purpose.  

It became clear just before Christmas that none of those avoidance tactics were going to be adequate in this season of transition. There was no running away or side-stepping the ever-present sense that the losses needed to be felt and that the confusion that has ensued in the aftermath is inviting deeper levels of self-exploration. I’ve wandered into a gap between identities. I am once again living outside of the weekly rhythms of our extended families of origin. These tribes we are born into and formed out of carry so much power in the shaping and fostering of our identities (for good and for harm). We are sister or daughter or granddaughter or wise one or funny one or strong one or smart one or wounded one. Whenever we venture outside or beyond or away from our people we have a new opportunity to explore who we are separate from them. I’ve found this space to be especially terrifying. Who am I outside of the communities that have affirmed my existence, communities that have formed my own micro-world? What remains when those micro-worlds are fading into the distance?

A similar stripping away has unfolded professionally as I’ve nearly entirely walked away from my previously thriving private practice only retaining a handful of clients who wanted to continue the work via online/video sessions. When we transition vocationally we have an opportunity to explore who we are simply as human beings when we are not striving so hard to be human doings. I began working at the age of 12 generating my own income by way of babysitting thus beginning a 20+ year career in offering care to others in a whole host of different ways. This is the only substantial break I have ever been afforded aside from when I pursued my graduate degree (which I struggle to call a break given the intensity of the program I undertook while tending to three kids simultaneously). I know that this vocational pause is a luxury in our culture and in our world, but I am beginning to see why that is such a travesty. My body and brain and heart and health have been begging for some rest in the gaps all along. 

So I’m not quite at the start of a new journey like I would have typically hoped for at the turn of a new calendar year. Instead, I’m in the gap lands and I’m coming to realize that I may need to be here for a little while. It’s clear that I’ve moved too quickly through this terrain in previous transitions. At times, I am certain, survival must have required only a quick pause in the gaps. But I must confess there were others that I unapologetically pushed through quicker than the speed of light. So there is lots of unfinished business in this place, lots of rest needed, lots of recovery for this compassion-fatigued soul. Ultimately it is where a patient grief must finally be allowed. Here’s to hoping that this intentional posture of sitting and staying in the gap as long as necessary leads to restoration and an increased capacity to listen well to the voice of a more stripped-down version of myself.  

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3 Comments

  1. Sarah
    Sarah

    You are so beautiful…your words so raw. “When we transition vocationally we have an opportunity to explore who we are simply as human beings when we are not striving so hard to be human doings.” I am so guilty of trying to be a human doer. I applaud you for challenging yourself to stay in the gap land. It’s such an uncomfortable place to be. Like you, I have tried to rush through those gaps. I’m sure it served it’s purpose at some point in life, and because of that I think it almost becomes an automatic self preservation reaction. We have to be intentional about remaining in the gap lands, don’t we? I’m excited to see the lessons you will learn in the rest you will be required to take. I love you sweet friend!

  2. Krista Law
    Krista Law

    “So there is lots of unfinished business in this place, lots of rest needed, lots of recovery for this compassion-fatigued soul…” I look forward to keeping you company during this period of rest and recovery, my friend!

  3. Shannon Rullman

    Shauna,
    Just taking a moment to catch up on the blog…
    Thank you for sharing yourself and beautifully articulating your journey. Your words resonate with my own heart as I, too, am finding myself in the “gaps” of life. Staying present in the here and now, despite feeling like I am traveling a precarious tightrope between viewpoints, offers amazing perspective when I am patient enough to stop, open my eyes and look. Unfortunately, fear wants to engage me in a war of self protection too many times.
    Thanks again for being “real”…I can’t wait to hear more about what you are learning.

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