If you’re lucky, you will reach a moment, when you realize, that the life you’ve been living isn’t working. Where you will finally have the eyes to see your own unhappiness and your lack of fulfillment and it will matter a great deal to you.
If you’re very lucky, you will have had a long list of relationships and events, in your life, that have been complete andutter failures. When you are okay with the way things are, you’re complacent and not motivated to make the changes you know you should. When getting up everyday hurts, when your thoughts hurt, when your heart hurts – when staying where you becomes more painful than your fear of something different, that’s the moment everything changes. It is the place where failure and dissatisfaction meet, that magic happens.
The Space In Between
What does it mean to do your work? We hear that a lot in self-help literature. Doing the work means that you set aside the time you need to get yourself healthy and on track, that you resolve the inner conflicts and the outer ones, if you can. That you find self-love, that you give yourself the respect, compassion and love that you so easily give to others, that you become the best version of yourself and that you live your life with integrity, purpose and joy.
The space between is the time between your past, that you’ve left behind, and the future you are creating for yourself. It’s the present moment and in the now, you become committed to the process of doing your work. At times it will feel so difficult, so lonely, so heartbreaking that you may want to turn back, but if you’re brave enough, you will carry on. It’s at the hardest moment that you find what you’ve been looking for – your true self.
Here are some Truths you will find in the Space Between:
I’m Awesome: When you really start to see yourself, you will be able to see all of those unique qualities, characteristics and abilities that make you unique and that you bring to the table. These things make you stand out and they only belong to you. You will stop feeling shame or discomfort in your uniqueness and you will learn to celebrate these things and nurture them. You will never again tolerate anyone that expects you to dim your light, so that they can shine. In the space between you will learn how to take center stage and how to shine.
Your Unresolved Issues Have No Bearing on Me: Whether you are referring to your parents, partners, friends or coworkers, you will no longer absorb the dysfunction and toxicity of people, who have not done their work. In fact, you will be able to easily point out those, who have not done their work and you’ll want no part of them. You will practice the pass back and easily leave their problems with them and you will have no stomach for their drama.
I’m the Master of My Own Domain: When you are in this self-imposed time-out, you will realize that people may come and go, but you are always here for yourself and that you will learn to trust and depend on yourself. If you have had a history of being your own worst enemy and you’re a master of self-sabotage, you will find and isolate the problem, use mindfulness and be aware when you’re engaging in the behavior, find the right behavior or coping mechanism and practice behaving and thinking in the right way, over and over again, until that becomes habitual and your new way of being.
I Don’t Need Anybody Else: If you are afraid to be alone, if you feel like you’re incomplete without a mate, if you’ve never been able to fend for yourself, then the space in between is for you. Necessity is the mother of invention and it trumps fear and laziness every time. There’s a great Cher quote I came across recently that explains this perfectly.
“You said a man is not a necessity, a man is luxury,” Jane Pauley asks Cher in an interview, to which Cher replies, “Like desert, yeah. A man is absolutely not a necessity.”
She explains, “I adore desert. I love men. I think men are the coolest, but you don’t really need them to live. My mom said to me, ‘You know, sweetheart, you should settle down and marry a rich man,’ she continued, “I said, ‘Mom, I am a rich man.'”
You will realize in the now, that you are not defined by your relationships, you are defined by your character.
My Main Priority is Me: In the space in between, you flip the switch from being other person focused, to self-focused. That doesn’t mean selfish. It means that you value yourself, your time and your wants and needs above all things and that you understand that it’s no one else’s job to meet those needs but you. You love and respect yourself enough to fill you up and make you feel whole.
I am in Full Control of My Life: As I take a time out, I start to dream and plan the life I want to be living. I figure out what I want, what makes me feel good, what my purpose is and I draw the map to that future. I put my plans into motion. I don’t lose focus. I don’t get distracted. I follow through and with each success, I gain more and more confidence and momentum.
I Love Being In My Own Company: When you have always been dependent upon other people, being alone will feel excruciatingly painful and lonely at first. As you enter the space between your old self and your new self, you will have likely eliminated many people from your life, who you recognized as being toxic and drama inducing. You will be alone, but in this time and space, you fill it with your interests, hobbies you enjoy and planning and creating the life you want to live. When you’re ready, you can start to find like minded friends to add to your life, who add an element of fun and give you support and nourish your soul. You will have great fun when you’re with them, but you know what? Spending time alone doing what you love will become even more fun.
We all need to have moments of solitude. It’s in the space between, where we tear off the toxic skin we were in. You’ll find very soon, that you’re not the same person you once were. As you progress into your work and you open your eyes fully, the people you used to know and the activities you used to participate in, will no longer fit. You’re in a different space now. A place of growth, healing and peace. You will go through periods of loneliness, as you try to figure out where you belong, but it’s only temporary. The path to self-discovery is not easy. It’s full of bumps and twists, but if you’re brave enough to battle through it, you’ll find the greatest reward of all.
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Image courtesy of tawatchai at freedigitalphoto.net
Thank you for this comment The space in-between. It really helps to put things inperspective. I was wondering if I was missing something but I see now I’m on track. Its a process, and the loneliness gets less and less. I do have one question about children. I have 3 adult children that have been rised in disfunctional family.. and I want to make amends to what my part was in this in passing this down to them. I can see now, and I was wondering if you could talk about that. all three have life problems and I do go to al-Anon but I want them to know that I see now what has happened to and want to help them if they want it. I have just started talking to them after 4 yrs of not talking because I made a total breakdown from my family after my Mom passed. Can you talk about this please..thank you for your help
I too have spent time alone and I’m glad that what is being said here has been cleared up. I’m 62 and not convinced another relationship is on the cards. (I do know he’d have to be fantastic!) I understand that once I achieve a level of self respect, positive relationships with new friends will be on the cards. I believe a lot of older people do thrive on exactly that. I do know that I don’t feel the loneliness I once did.
I’m just in the fourth year of my healing and gave one year’s notice I would stand down from a big voluntary admin role I held. Now the year is up, I can’t believe how lighter and free that’s made me feel.
When clearing my desk I found the writing and lists from my initial recovery from the narc. It was hard to recognise the person who put up with such appalling behaviour. I’ve definitely risen.
I shredded the notes but kept the affirmations at the end of them:
I think and behave in ways that make me feel happy.
I look forward to the future with excitement and hope.
I am valuable.
I am important.
I am special.
I am strong.
I am whole and complete.
I have become kind of dependent on your posts that seem to corroborate with what is going on in my healing process every time!
This post was no exception. I have come to see that so many of us are part of a healing wave. The work we are doing is so hard at times but so necessary. Thank you for your generous insight and support in getting us through it.
As a therapist who had to study human behavior and human development, I’ve learned that humans are social animals who thrive best with meaningful relationships, love, touch, intamcy, interaction, and emotional support, from birth to old age. Like the reader who left the comment above, (Andy), I agree there seems to be abundant articles that talk about being OK with being alone. Although I agree it is healthy to be “OK” with being alone, and alone time is necessary for personal growth and learning about ourselves, I find it difficult to agree that we don’t thrive better when in a meaningful relationship, which is what we seem to seek inately with that level of intamacy a partner brings. There is reserch to support being healthier down to the cellular level when in a fulfilling intimate relationship. At this point in my life, after several relationships, failed marriages and a horrific experience with a Narcissist, I know I would be “OK” alone, but I am not convinced I would thrive alone, and be as happy and fullfilled without the level of intamacy a love relationship brings. I know I can financially support myself, make friends, and develop fun hobbies, but contemplating walking alone, never being intimately hugged, kissed, touhed, walk holding hands, and sharing a life with someone sounds like a lonely existence to me. If we do not need intimate relationships, and can function at 100% fulfilment without them, why do we inately crave them? How can we ignore scientific research that shows humans are healthier overall , body and mind, when in a fulfilling and loving intimate relationship? I want you to know I love your articles, and recommend them to clients frequently.
Lisa the title of the article is about the space between – it’s your healing time when you shed old friends and people who no longer fit the new emerging you. During this time of healing it’s good to be alone so that you can focus on healing and doing your work. As you get healthier, you will start to gravitate towards healthier friends and relationships. I didn’t mean stay alone forever.
I can’t believe this post arrived when it did! I was thinking, ‘what do I do in the interim?’ And up came your post!!
I’m like all of you above and hide because it’s less painful but that’s not living. Thriving, I could feel the shame you were talking about, it’s such a horrible feeling but in fact as you said, ‘what’s there to be ashamed of?’ Except, I do have things I feel ashamed of. I keep trying to convince myself, that’s in the past, today is now and work towards the future. But I feel naked, as if everyone can see my inherent badness which, in turn is making me feel so vulnerable.
I will heed this advice and turn this self-imposed time-out into an awakening…hopefully…it’s taking such a long time though. Best wishes to you all.
Savannah, this is one of your best yet. I had a weird weekend in which I was very outgoing and in my new skin and having the novelty of feeling good at a party where I knew almost no one. I, like Andy, have no problem in my own company. It’s where I hide. So to go out and risk being my real self was scary. But I did so good and I was so happy that I stayed up and danced alone in my kitchen until nearly dawn. It was like I got the old before-the Narcissist-me back only better because now I am 59 and so much simply doesn’t matter anymore. Like being liked by everyone. The next day, though, I had a big shame reaction to putting myself out there. But then I thought, “You are just between the old you and the new you. Of course its going to be awkward.” And then I read your article!
“If you have had a history of being your own worst enemy and you’re a master of self-sabotage, you will find and isolate the problem, use mindfulness and be aware when you’re engaging in the behavior, find the right behavior or coping mechanism and practice behaving and thinking in the right way, over and over again, until that becomes habitual and your new way of being.”
So, I did the very thing from the quote above: I realized that beating myself up was the old behavior, a way to try to be in control of life by making me wrong. As in, if I am in control of me then its not so scary to be powerless over how people respond to me. Thoughts like, “You were too much. You shouldn’t have danced all by yourself to that one song. You are going to be made fun of for giving a younger guy your phone number.” But, really, its two steps forward and one step back. Saturday was three steps forward because I was so gutsy and authentic. Sunday was only one step back, not two because I talked myself through the shame spiral. I ended up reading a good book and just letting me BE.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Hi Andy. I am similar. I like my own company but I think its a hiding place from being hurt. If im in company I have been asked if I am ‘okay’ which is embarrassing and I cannot put a fake happiness on.x I also find I have a need for people to like me.x
The realization that I am not the same person I was before came with the time indeed. But it is a bittersweet feeling. I can’t help but have regrets that I haven’t started loving myself before. I have regrets that I was so encumbered into family of origins, religion and cultural bind. I still get mad at other people who think that living in a marriage, having children, being in a romantic relationship makes one a superior human being. I have wasted so much time and energy on pleasing others, fighting for acceptance and love, and proving that I am a worthy human being. Sometimes, I think that I wasn’t even alive, I was just a daughter, a student, a worker, a mother, a wife, a home owner and so on. I used not like assertive and people with boundaries because they intimated and scared me but now I am afraid I intimidate and scare other people.
I have always been the person who prefer being alone so, it has never need a problem for me. In fact I am the type of person who end up being alone some how while in a group, if you know what I mean.
For me I want to learn how to live in harmony with people but a lot of articles to emphasise that be ok with being alone, which is easy for me to do.
I find that I cause distress amongst group with my high expections. I have this dense energy that makes others avoid me. I want to learn how to light hearted. How not to bring the sad mood so that other do not feel the discomfort in my presence. It such a struggle because the hermit life that I have resorted especial after the abuse by narcissist is definitely not allowing me to progress in life, in my career.
May be I am missing the context, I do not know.