No one told us that as we practiced letting go more and more we would have to learn this new way of living—different than any we’d known before.
They didn’t mention that as we leaned into the path of self-growth and transformation, there was an in-between place, one that we might find uncomfortable.
They didn’t mention that before every new stage of our lives, there was inevitably an empty space.
In this space we might ask ourselves:
“What the f*ck is this?”
“Where the heck am I?”
“Is this really what I was working toward, this no-thing-ness?”
“It seems scary…”
But more than that, this place will seem like nothing—a gap, a wide open plane where we could scream and not hear an echo for days. We’ll feel scraped clean, like an empty container, but for what we do not yet know.
I have hit this gap in my life several times.
I met the biggest one about four years ago, when my world completely fell apart. At that time I was teaching yoga daily and practicing it at least two hours every morning, solo. I meditated several times a day. I was undergoing training to be a community counselor and I was in school for social work (secretly, I may have wanted to be the next Brené Brown, but with a yogic edge).
And then something unexpected happened.
I fell instead of flew, right into the biggest gap of my life.
There I lived for almost three years. It was the most transformative and the most painful time I have experienced. I spent day after day in bed, interrupted only by doctors, specialists, healers, witches, shamans, intuitives, loved ones and psychics attempting to help me back on my feet again.
I wanted healing so badly. I wanted to be out of the suffering included in that gap—just to get out of bed, even—but it was like a cloud of exhaustion had settled over me, and the constant grinding pain in my joints would not budge.
So, as I had been learning for many years through mindfulness practices, I surrendered.
I let go of my jobs, of my schooling, of my business and eventually of my home. My partner left. Too tired to even drive my car, I let go of that too.
Eventually, the western doctors came to the conclusion that I had chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, a stomach infection picked up while traveling, and contact with Lyme’s Disease.
I came to the conclusion that I was in the gap—the empty space where everything leaves us so that we can re-create.
I came to understand that the excruciating pain I felt was me healing and transcending patterns I had been carrying and practicing for lifetimes. The fatigue kept me in one place.
It felt like the end of my life, and in many ways it was. I grieved often for the loss of my former self, the one who could do anything.
But when we lose all things familiar, we learn that there is something in us that is indestructible. For anyone who has lived in the gap, we know that this is the place where we find the solid core of ourselves. We have to, because all other things dissolve.
The gap happens in our lives on different scales too; it comes after break-ups, the loss of a job, big disappointments, deaths and most life transitions. It is the empty space in which creation takes place.
Now that I am transitioning out of my big gap, my life is completely different. I have a new career and a different partner. I live in a new home, my body has changed and my lifestyle too. I’m not a “Type A” personality anymore; I’m more a B or a C. I need to take lots of days off just to sit down by the sea and stare.
Almost every week I have a day of living in the gap where I experience the feeling of not knowing what is next, what I should be doing or who I am. It is a day in which I often feel blank, where I usually avoid people and like to be tucked safe inside my home or beside a quiet ocean.
I try to lean into it and trust the gap, instead of filling it with frantic thought, guilt or action. I understand it’s temporary—that it’s actually fertile ground for self-growth.
My gap has become a time each week where I re-create me—just a bit, or a whole lot.
So if we find ourselves in this place today, remember that before the whole universe was formed, it was just a giant, blank space. In that void lay the ingredients for all pure potential.
The gap is the place where new life begins.
It is okay to honor it. I am learning, too.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: Sodanie Chea/Flickr
Editor: Toby Israel