What to do in the space between

Feb 6, 2018


Everything is up in the air.


One deep breath.


I don’t know who I am anymore.


A glass of water.


I’m lost.


Belly to the earth, feet wide, head cradled.  Heart. Beat.


“I know honeybabe.  It’s hard to feel this way.”


The space between



That space where everything is up in the air


is called liminal space.


It’s not the space between mere changes

that night in the hotel room while you move from one house to another

or in the hospital room as you wait to take home your newborn

or airports, everywhere.


It’s the space between transitions:  the changes that change us.  Who we are.  How we identify ourselves and how we navigate the world.


We have few experiences in our oh-so-Googleable lives during which we must sit with the unknown, and many of us find it increasingly difficult to Not Know.  Being in liminal space means also you’ve left something behind:  by definition, liminal space is the place we occupy when we can’t go back to the way we were, because the person we were doesn’t exist anymore.

It’s a space where we hold the tension of what-was and what-will-be.

It’s a deeply disconcerting (okay, sometimes shitawful) time that’s also filled with possibility and excitement.  It’s the fertile ground within which the seeds of new beginnings are planted.


Most of us, when faced with the discomfort of liminality, search frantically for a way out.  We either strategize our next step so that we can do our way out of the unknowing, leaving it in our dust, or we eat enough chocolate / buy enough things / drink enough wine to make it not matter so much anymore (no?  just me?)


But what might be possible if you muster what it takes to stay in liminality?


The universe, in its wickedly ironic way of operating, always seems to deal us coaches, doulas and the like with the exact challenges we’re called to support people with.

Psychologists call it parallel processing.

I prefer the term cruel and unusual punishment.

Nevertheless, I’ve found myself in yet another liminal space in the last two months as I adjust to living in a new home in a new community; as I adjust to a new way of life, no less.

And even though I know better, my survival instincts have kicked in and I have wanted nothing more than to do my way out of the discomfort of feeling sad about leaving a life behind, wanting to feel like I belonged in my new community and wanting to make my house feel like home, wanting to create new routines (I could go on…).

I knew I would feel discombobulated for a while,

but I think my understanding of how that would feel was a little hypothetical, before it happened.


But what I’ve learned – again for the first time – is this:

doing and numbing are only temporary comforts

but being uncomfortable with liminality still sucks

and it’s really easy to forget to be self-compassionate, and to take care


I’ve re-remembered the first thing to do when you don’t know what to do or where to go or who you are:


One deep breath.

A glass of water.

Belly to the earth, feet wide, head cradled.  Heart. Beat.

“I know honeybabe.  It’s hard to feel this way.”