SPACE BETWEEN STORIES

In my previous post - the Cocoon Year - I shared a bit of Lissa Rankin with you. Her personal account of the hero's journey has resonated with my soul on many levels. As I integrate some of the truths she shares into my own reality I have noticed a pattern in my process of learning and understanding. It goes something like this:

The cocoon - a place of solace and protection for us to nurture ourselves and practice gentle self-love became a container for my old self to dissolve and die. In my growing understanding of the actual purpose of a cocoon, my understanding of my own reality greatly expanded. Suddenly there was definition for why I could feel lightness and peace in one moment and be a puddle on the floor in the next. The cocoon is a container for transformation and I'm sorry to tell you, transformation doesn't really feel good most of the time.

In Anatomy of a CallingLissa offers a second narrative regarding the cocoon and calls it the Space Between Stories. Borrowing from Charles Eisenstein, she shares this:

The old world falls apart but the new has not yet emerged. Everything that once seemed permanent and real is revealed as a kind of hallucination. You don’t know what to think, what to do; you don’t know what anything means anymore. The life trajectory you had plotted out seems absurd, and you can’t imagine another one. Everything is uncertain. Your time frame shrinks from years to this month, this week, today, maybe even this moment. Without the mirage of order that once seemed to protect you and filter reality, you feel naked and vulnerable, but also a kind of freedom. Possibilities that didn’t even exist in the old story lie before you, even if you have no idea how to get there. The challenge in our culture is to allow yourself to be in that space, to trust that the next story will emerge when the time in between has ended, and that you will recognize it.”
— The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

After reading this, I ran up our very steep stairs to find my husband. In a rush of excited energy - which he now automatically braces for - I told him, “Don’t worry! I know exactly where we are at and it’s okay! We are in the space between stories!!” He smiled, amused, and met my high five though clearly not experiencing this light bulb moment as deeply. His lackluster response did not sway my enthusiasm because I finally felt that I had landed somewhere. I had yet another handhold for my journey. Suddenly, the nagging rush of needing to figure things out, decide what is next, move forward, was hushed, quieted, stilled, because sweet little worrier - it’s not time yet. Hold tight. Soon, but not yet.

Waking up to my place in this space offered a kind of freedom and peace. So I began exploring this space that I had been in without knowing it, asking questions like:

What is this space? // How can I be in it well? // What does it look like to really wait?

I will tell you now, it's not very pretty, but here's what some of those answers have looked like in my messy space between stories:

Waiting has sometimes (and more often than not) been a desperate fretting, looking out with anxious anticipation for what is coming next so I don't accidentally miss it. It has also (less often than not) been a calm surrender to the current way of things - going to work, coming home, sharing dinner and conversation with my husband and caring for our dog. The calm surrender, I am pretty confident, is when I am finally, actually, IN the space between stories. Not drowning in sorrow for what has not come to be, not fretting about what we are doing with our lives or feeling all woe-is-me about this illness that doesn't have a treatment. I am not even angry at all of the mamas swarming about with swollen bellies and fresh little babies. I just am. And this being is beautiful. I experience freedom and joy and peace in this space. At one point, the space of calm surrender stretched for a couple of months, until one conversation uncovered all of my naked-vulnerableness and the beast of Fear awoke with a vengeance.

Driving home after retrieving our pup from daycare my husband asked if I had heard anything from the friend of a friend at U of M. I told him I hadn't because I did not actually reach out to that friend of a friend in the first place... laughing a bit as I shared this news, he did not join me. Instead he wondered in a calmed shock - why didn't I? And there it was. The slap of my true reality. The one where my body is broken and our daughter is still not here and no one has any answers for us. This shit storm of a reality rained back down and it was heavy.

I grew quiet as the hope and peace that had so recently filled my space became crowded out. I grew quiet as my heart burned and my mind darkened and my husband seemed farther away from me than ever, though he sat in the drivers seat a few inches to my left. I spoke very little as we walked into our home, as I changed clothes and got ready to cut his hair. I was consumed and isolated in my resurfacing grief until it spilled out of me in the form of tears and snot, dripping because I could not wipe them properly since my hands were wrapped around scissors and comb, covered in hair. Trying as hard as I could to keep it silent and contained, my sweet husband noticed my dripping sobs, he grabbed hold of my hand and brought me around to face him. Laying down my tools as he took off his cape, he wrapped me up in his arms. He held me tight and stopped my retreat away from him. After a few moments of standing there amongst his hair which now covered the floor, he took me into the guest room and we sat together on the rocking chair - he rocked as I wept. He held all of me. All the parts that I had set aside for a few months. The parts that still ached for motherhood, the parts that ached for our daughter. He held me and rocked until my tears slowed and my breathing calmed. 

And this is where the space gets really muddled. Just as I needed to wrestle with and expand my idea of the cocoon, the space between stories needs definition and expansion. Is this space between stories for calm surrender and peace as you let the old self fall away without resistance? Or is it for fighting and grasping at the dissolving self so the world knows that you are not walking away flippantly from those parts that are rooted so deeply inside? How do you let go of the things you still want so badly? 

I don't know, friends. But I do know this space is not for pretending. You cannot really be in the space between stories while pretending. Part of me hoped that if I dismissed the things that my heart desired most deeply I would move out of the space more quickly, nope. I am still figuring out how to let go and surrender the deepest desires of my heart without getting those things confused with denial. Although they seem so similar they are vastly different - letting go, surrendering, while trusting that something is still coming - this is what happens in the space between stories and it will not be rushed.

The main thing holding me steady in this space is the last line of the quote above: 

...to trust that the next story will emerge when the time in between has ended, and that [I] will recognize it.

and I can hardly wait... but I will.