The Space Between

June 23, 2009

in Mindfulness

I got the message loud and clear that I need to learn to deal with suspense.

If I were more dramatic, I might have titled this post, “My son does not have a brain tumor.” Now YOU have to deal with suspense.

The lesson started benignly enough. A company asked to put a product link on my blogs for a fee. We negotiated a price and I put up the link. I gave the company my PayPal information to collect payment.

It didn’t come.

It didn’t come.

It didn’t come.

Hmmmm. I thought. What could be going on? My mind then went to all the things that could have happened. The company backed out. They were fooling me. I messed up the negotiations. The CEO was arrested as part of a scam and now my blog would be implicated.

Hmmmm. I thought. What was really going on? Not with the situation, but with me. I was hurtling to conclusions. I was projecting. I was, perhaps, creating realities I didn’t want simply with the power of my thoughts.

I decided to be more conscious about it. I really don’t know anything became my mantra whenever I began to feel unsettled about the missing funds. An even deeper inner voice also told me to learn to be in the in between place. And that this is very important.

The next day, I had another chance. An article I’d submitted has been accepted to a magazine I read and respect. In fact, the editor wanted me to ADD to the piece. She asked via email if the piece was still available and if I would consider lengthening it. If so, she would send additional questions.

I responded immediately. Yes! Please send questions and I’ll rework.

A day went by.

No response.

Another day.

The mind-chatter began: The editor changed her mind. She found a better article. The magazine folded. I had a typo in my response and the editor vowed not to work with anyone who doesn’t proof their emails.

The calming voice kicked in. I really don’t know anything. Except that I am in the in-between place. I’d better get comfy here. I will keep being presented with this lesson until I master it.

The email arrived. We are on track.

Time for the SAT of cosmic lessons (there’s a reason I’m shying away from the more obvious metaphor of a “final exam”).

Reed complained of headache Friday night. Intense, “stabbing” headaches in the back. No other symptoms, no fever. Just a headache that woke him from a deep sleep that night. Twice.

Early Saturday morning I got an on-call nurse on the line who told us to bring Reed in as soon as Urgent Care opened. Roger did that while I stayed home with a sleeping Tessa.

I did the stupid Dr Google thing (why can we not refrain from doing so?) and thus commenced the mind-chatter, which sounded like this:

  • it’s-not-a-sinus-infection-because-if-it-were-it-would-be-in-the-front
  • it’s-not-any-other-infections-because-if-it-were-he-would-have-a-fever
  • it’s-not-dehydration-because-we-had-him-drink-water
  • it’s-not-sunstroke-because-he-wasn’t-in-the-sun
  • it-must-be-something-really-really-truly-truly-bad-that-will-change-my-life
  • i-remember-that-one-guy-whose-daughter-died-of-a-brain-tumor-within-days-of-diagnosis
  • i-would-want-to-die-kill-me-now
  • i-don’t-want-to-become-a-cause-celebre-in-BlogWorld-because-i-have-tragedy-in-my-life
  • and-how-could-I-have-tweeted-just-yesterday-that-my-life-was-so-wonderful?
  • haha-the-gods-are-laughing-at-my-hubris

I began to quell the voice, repeating my mantra, I really don’t know anything. I had some success; I found some mind silence.

Then Tessa woke up. And the voice INside my head became a voice OUTside my head.

“What will happen, Mama? Will he get a shot? Will he die? What will we do if he dies?”

This was actually good for me. For I said, out loud, “We really don’t know anything. Let’s just sit with what is and we will handle what comes.”

And, I breathed. I stayed present. Right at this moment — the only moment there really is — I was breathing and loving and aware of my family. I really don’t know anything.

After about 2 hours of being in the space between, Roger called to tell me that the doctor said that sinus pain sometimes telegraphs to the back of the head. Motrin and some allergy medication is all that was called for.

My boys came home and I gave them both the biggest hugs of my life.

I don’t think the outcome was good just because I passed the test; I don’t believe it works that way. Rather, I think that I had, at a soul level, asked for opportunities to play in the space between, to get a little familiar with it so that I won’t freak out every time I find myself there.

And I got my wish.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

becomingwhole April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

This was amazing for me to read. My mind does this ALL THE TIME, and has, as far back as I can remember. Someone’s late? No, they’re not stuck at the store or at work, they’ve died in a car accident. It is a very anxiety-producing way to function. Thank you for this. So much.

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niobe April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Phew. Good to hear.

It’s funny, but my own experience has been — and I don’t claim to be particularly inituitive — that most of the times* when I’ve worried that something was really, really wrong, that, in fact, the bad thing I was worried about was exactly what happened.

*Though, thank goodness, not always.

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Pamela April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Glad to know that your little man is fine! I know those allergies well.

You and I are exactly the same on this score. I love to fill up the spaces with mind-chatter of the most extraordinary kind!

p.s. I voted ;-)

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Kristin April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

That is truly a hard lesson to learn. And, stay away from Dr. Google.

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battynurse April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

I’m glad that I’m not the only one whose mind takes unplanned detours. Glad that Reed is ok. And I’m with Chicklet, Google can be scary. Of course for me when my brain takes a detour it can often come up with something worse than google. Crap.

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Deathstar April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Me and Dr. Google arelikethis. But he is very fickle. I am so glad Reed is okay (and I hope he recovers soon), it’s natural to want to figure things out. I’m like that too. It gives you a momentary sense of control, which of course, is an illusion, but it gives you something to do until you figure out that you don’t really know anything.

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annacyclopedia April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

This just gives me the shivers, Lori. I’ve been thinking lately how the fruits of my own (sporadic is putting it nicely) mindfulness practice are nonetheless cropping up all over my life. It is wonderful to experience something different from the habits of the mind, especially when you can access this peace in the midst of a crisis. I’m so glad you were able to access your wisdom this time and also that you are able to see it as practice for other times when you might really need to remember how little you know.

So glad Reed is healthy and that you came through this so beautifully as a family.

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chicklet April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

I’m so so glad he’s okay but good lord woman, DO NOT GOOGLE! Google will always say bad things:-(

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Martha April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Crazy how our mind goes places that defy most logic. Great post.
That reminds me, I never heard from the pottery lady about our giveaway, hmmm.

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The Casual Perfectionist April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

This is a great reminder to not get carried away by the unknown.

I always try to remind myself that even if I don’t know the answer, it does exist. My knowing or not knowing doesn’t really change any part of it.

:)

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Furrow April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

I’m so glad that Reed is ok. And you are just amazing. You get an A+ in cosmic message decoding. It took me years of therapy before I was able to talk myself off of a mental ledge, and I still only have a C+ average.

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Banteringblonde April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

I am the worst with the voice in my head … but I have to say your scenario with the banner ad was quite amusing!!

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Sunny April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Whew! I am so glad he’s okay! :/ Scary stuff, great job staying mindful throughout it all.

I wouldn’t say my mind is racing off track exactly, but I have our first RE appt since conceiving our son via ART two years ago (lovely secondary infertility!) and I am talking myself into every emotion in the book. Sometimes I am sure it’s not going to go well — he’s a new RE for us — and I’m going to walk away from the appt in utter disappointment. Then the next morning I wake up and think he’ll probably say injectibles + IUI again and we’ll be pregnant within two months, easy as that. It controls my whole emotional life, veering this way and that, and we haven’t even gone yet! Nothing has changed since I called to make the appt!

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Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Wow–this is an amazing post and a very important personal reminder. I have a tendency to start going down roads mentally where I don’t need to walk because the space in-between is so large and scary and unknowing. Thank you for this.

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edenland April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Oh Lori thank goodness he is ok. And thank you so much for writing this … I’m having a hard time this week, really worried that something bad has happened to my boys. It’s freaking me out.

I will practice your mindfulness around it.

(Thank GOODNESS he is ok!)

XOXOXOXOX

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Sheri April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Lori — I’m so glad Reed is OK.

And thank you for being so mindful about your experiences and so open about how you too go to the space of not knowing and jumping to conclusions.

I will remember and use your mantra, “I really don’t know anything,” the next time I go to a place of worry and focus on what I DO know.

Thank you!

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Baby Smiling In Back Seat April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

So glad Reed is okay, and that you could keep yourself relatively calm.

Learning experiences are good, even hard-won ones.

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PFM April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

I completely understand how a mind can go off the deep end at possibilities. Glad Reed is fine!

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Delenn April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Great post. I am definately in a lot of in-between places right now in my life. And I have been trying very hard to “go with the flow”. Thanks for reminding me.

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Leigh April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

Another excellent post. You always make me think!!

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areyoukiddingme April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

I think that’s what I got out of all those philosophy classes I took…You’re not wise until you realize that you don’t really know anything about anything.

Glad Reed is OK-ish. Sinus infections are the worst.

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Jamie April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

That post is so helpful to me. I tend to do the very same thing but you are right – you can’t waste energy jumping to conclusions when you don’t have all the facts.

I am so happy to hear Reed is okay – what a long day!

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MrsSpock April 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

This is a very good mantra- and one I could see myself using frequently, as I wonder if I will get to work from home, keep my job, be able to have another child….

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excavator April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I don’t know how I missed this. This is a really good post. It’s right up there with how being in an open adoption has helped your mindfulness, and vice versa. I appreciate reading this today.

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Mrs. Gamgee April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Stopping by from blogger bingo…

I am a consummate worrier. I think I keep Dr Google in business with all the symptom searches I have done in the past.

I’m glad that everything turned out ok, and I understand how easy it is to let something like that build up in your mind.

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Kristi Rieger Campbell May 25, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Wow. Thanks for the insightful history of this…I get a lot of offers for really dumb sponsors (when I type cough drops, I am not kidding). Thank you for doing an amazing job of taking it from that to the parent scare to the wonderful beautiful you. I worry, so so much. I pray that I won’t die because I know that nobody gets my son the way I do.
Lori,
your blog is amazing. I am so honored to be a friend and to have found you again. Your voice is powerful, wonderful, beautiful times a million and just, well. Right.

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Kristi Campbell August 24, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I go there every time I have an ow. My son has an ow. Every time. I about killed my husband off when he had a skin cancer melanoma removed when Tucker was born. Seriously, that @asshole voice was planning a funeral. Sigh. So glad you got there. And so glad that no matter how much I come here, there are things that are new to me because you’re awesome that way and have YEARS of being cool before I even knew that blogging was more than Perez Hilton.

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