This week, I experienced a trauma that collapsed my story of self, yet a new story has not yet emerged. Charles Eisenstein calls this “the space between stories.” Many of us are in this space between stories right now, when you feel lost, ungrounded, dislocated, as if your roots have been pulled up and you’re not quite sure where to land. Everything you thought you knew—about yourself and the world—is now in question. Even our systems—the medical system, our political systems, the education system, the banking system—they’re in the space between stories too. We know the old way is falling apart, yet the new way has not yet been born.
As Charles writes in The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible:
So please, if you are in the sacred space between stories, allow yourself to be there. It is frightening to lose the old structures of security, but you will find that even as you might lose things that were unthinkable to lose, you will be okay. There is a kind of grace that protects us in the space between stories. It is not that you won’t lose your marriage, your money, your job, or your health. In fact, it is very likely that you will lose one of these things. It is that you will discover that even having lost that, you are still okay. You will find yourself in closer contact to something much more precious, something that fires cannot burn and thieves cannot steal, something that no one can take and cannot be lost.
Earlier this week, I attended the memorial of the sixth person I loved who has died in the past six months. Along with others, I witnessed the deceased’s fiancé navigate her own space between stories. They were supposed to get married this year, and instead, they had to say goodbye. As she got up to speak at the memorial, she looked up at his photo on the projected screen and, with tears in her eyes, she said, “What are you doing up there?” The woman who was supposed to be the maid of honor hosted the ceremony as we all held each other in arms of grieving, celebrating, laughing, crying love. When we realize we are not in this lost space alone, we find comfort in the communion of the raw, unguarded, blown open heart.
Who Am I?
The trauma I experienced this week thrust me into a state of “Who am I?” What if I am not the person I thought I was? If I’m not who I thought I was, “Who am I?” Then down the rabbit hole you go, grasping for certainty and finding none, adrift in the question marks, yet discovering in the space between stories that grace that protects you. This space between stories is a ripe place, an empty place, a place filled with potential but also with loss. You don’t get to skip straight to the “Now I’m growing” phase without grieving the acknowledgment that you’re marking the end of something. As Charles suggests, we let go of the old story with great reluctance, clinging to any remaining threads of the unraveling tapestry as if they are life preservers. Yet at the same time, if we resist avoiding it, there is a deep knowing that all threads must be cast overboard as we rush headlong into the void, resisting the temptation to take on a new story prematurely.
We are being stripped down—all of us right now. Everything hidden is being revealed. Everything we were in denial about is coming to the surface. Everything that is not love is peeling away. This may feel painful, like dying, because in a way, we are dying. That which is not your purest essence is losing ground. Your soul is pushing through the soil like a spring bulb bumping up against frozen earth—pushing relentlessly against the resistance. You don’t have to push so hard, little bulb. Your true nature will curl its way to the surface and blossom without all that efforting.
There is much to strip away—layers and layers of cultural conditioning, limiting beliefs you learned in childhood, the programming of what your parents taught you, the way the media brainwashes you, what “the rules” tell you about how to be human. Maybe we’re even breaking age old karmic ties to free us up to be something new. It’s hard to be both human and Divine, to hold that paradox with radical openness.
This hurts, this peeling away. It feels like you’re getting stripped of your skin. As Brené Brown said, “I feel like a turtle without a shell in a briar patch.” God, give me a shell. And yet this is what we are consciously freeing ourselves from, this prison of the shell we’ve worn since childhood. We can fight it if we want. But the pull of the soul is like the ocean’s tide; it is yanking us like the lunar magnetism that makes the waves crash upon the shore. We can fight it if we wish, or we can cave early.
If you get overwhelmed, rest in the sanctuary of your blown open heart, where you will know that this stripping down is not a punishment; it is an answer to a silent prayer for freedom that you may not even remember praying.
You Can’t Rush Gestation
When you are in the space between stories, Charles writes, “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.” Or maybe there is no next story. Maybe this is how we begin to inhabit the present moment. No stories. Just NOW. And NOW. And NOW.
I don’t know much these days, but it seems to me that when you’re in this space between stories, the only thing to do is rest. Allow yourself to be comforted. Sleep a lot. Be in nature. Meditate. Bathe yourself in beauty. Create stuff for no reason. Do what you can to relax the monkey mind that is grasping for the next story. Surround yourself with the trusted beloveds who cultivate the stillness in you. Be exquisitely kind to yourself.
The space between stories is more about Being and less about Doing. There will come a time for the Doing, but it’s not right now. Remember, something new is being born inside of you. You can’t rush gestation.
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