My meditation app has phrase that describes breath as having a beginning, a middle, a space in between and an end. A space in between. A pause. I feel like I’m in that space right now. Like I’m having an outer body experience and looking at my life from afar. Looking at it from so far away that it’s blurry. It’s confusing it doesn’t make sense to me. Then that moment comes when I ask myself, “wow. Is this really me? Is this really my life?” and I feel nauseous and dizzy. Not nauseous with disdain but sick because I feel so uncentered, so lost. It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you get back news but you know the worst is yet to come. When you are just waiting for the fall out and you have no idea how anything else will unfold.
This feeling is like a panic attack – dizzying, terrifying, throat-tightening. Except that it doesn’t happen in a specific moment, but over months. Last time it happened, last time I felt that I was in that space in-between rather than cozied up to the swing of my life, was a few months after my parents divorced. Then, as now I was experiencing anxiety. Then, as now, I had no idea what the future would hold. I had been fine with their divorce when the news broke. I went into action mode – comforting both parents, readying myself for the onslaught of emotions. I was okay with my parents getting divorced because I saw it as an event with a beginning and an end. I thought that people go through divorces and then they’re over. But that’s not how families experience divorce. There’s fall out. Big fall out. It means watching your dad start dating, watching your mom develop an eating disorder. It means lonely Christmases and awkward wedding guest lists. It means curating your answer when the other asks “how’s mom?” or “how’s dad?”. Somehow though, even with that new reality, I stopped getting vertigo when I looked at my own life. It started to fit again.
Now I feel once again like I’m in the space in between. Now that we’re getting fertility help, I feel that my life-vertigo is understandable. Waiting to conceive is very clearly a time in-between. But the truth is that I had it before we even started trying. When I tried to imagine myself as a mother, when I tried to imagine kids in our apartment, when I tried to imagine happily ever after. I felt like it was something made for other people. That I couldn’t do it or it wouldn’t happen for us. And now, seeing a fertility doctor, I wonder if I jinxed myself or if it was intuition, if it really won’t happen. Is this a time in-between or is it a new reality I have to accept? Am I in the middle of something or at the start of a something new? I don’t know if I am waiting for the fall out or waiting for relief.
When I friend of mine was having trouble with her job-search, she told me that she was trying to remember that “sometimes God puts you in waiting rooms”. That’s a nice thought, God. In some ways, these painful times do feel more spiritual than happy ones. These slow times when you are waiting for the new version of your life to start making sense. Time slows down. Time doesn’t fly when you’re not having fun. I feel wiser and more worldly at times like these. I look at my happy friends with smugness. They don’t understand, they don’t know what life is really like yet. Anxiety makes you feel like you’re going to die and who could be wiser than someone on their deathbed?
My therapist asks me if I think my anxiety will last forever. I tell her no, that I don’t think it will, even if it feels that way in the moment. I don’t think I will always be looking like a seasick voyage across a choppy ocean. I think it will come back to me. My life, it will start to make sense again. At least I hope it will. I like always being at the beginning, the middle or the end. The space in between, that pause before your next breath – that part is hard.