Smack dab in the middle of the meantime
'In the Meantime'
Web posted on: Friday, July 17, 1998 2:15:54 PM EDT
(CNN) -- You know where you want to be, but you have no clue how to get there. You know exactly what you want in life, but what you want is nowhere in sight. Perhaps your vision is unclear, your purpose still undefined. On top of it all, your relationships, particularly your romantic relationships, are failing. If these scenarios feel familiar way down in the deepest part of your gut, then you, my dear, are smack dab in the middle of the meantime.
FROM CHAPTER ONE
She was not looking for him. He was not looking for her. As a matter of fact, they were both somewhat attached to other people. Yet, the minute they saw each other, their body parts began to twitch, and their eyes began to sparkle. The meantime was brewing. They worked their way across the room, neither aware that the other was doing the same thing. He spoke first. No, she did. She asked him a silly question to which he and his twitching body parts were more than willing to respond. He ducked his attachment. She ducked hers. They needed some time to talk. They did, and they laughed, something neither of them seemed to do very often with their attachments. They exchanged telephone numbers to their places of employment. Although they both knew, they both acted like they didn't. Reluctantly, they both rejoined their attachments, and together they entered a simmering pot of meantime stew.
When you are not happy where you are and you are not quite sure if you want to leave or how to leave, you are in the meantime. It's a state of limbo. You are hanging on, ready to let go, afraid to fall, not wanting to hurt yourself, afraid you will hurt someone else. In the meantime, you pray the other person will let go first so that you will not feel guilty.
The other person keeps dropping hints, letting you know that it's time to go. You deny it! Why? You don't know why, but I can tell you that the meantime is fraught with don't knows and can't do's. Don't know why I can't go. Don't know why I should stay. Don't know where I'm going. Don't know how I am going to get there, wherever there is. Ambivalence, confusion, reluctance, and paralysis are all characteristics of the meantime. If you knew the answers to these questions you would be just fine. In the meantime, you are many things, fine is probably not one of them!
Life would be so much easier if, when we hit a snag in a relationship, any relationship, we would stop, address it, and move ahead smoothly. The truth is, in most cases, we could do just that. The reality is, we don't do it! We keep moving. We allow little insults to become raging angers, little arguments to become festering feuds, little pains to become deep wounds, and we keep moving. In many cases, we keep hurting. When the relationship at issue is an intimate, loving one, the attempt to move forward without addressing the pain only complicates matters, further poisoning the relationship.
How can I stay and not get hurt? How can I go without hurting? You cannot answer these questions if you are in pain. What you can do is make the effort to discover the truth about love, because it is the only thing that can help you move through the experience. In the meantime, if we can remain loving of ourselves and toward other people by staying in conscious and honest communication, a disruption, snag, or delay in a relationship becomes a healing process. When we cannot, we engage in meantime behavior -- hurting, fighting, not telling the truth, and moving forward in confusion. Confusion begets confusion.
Back to our meantime lovers. Two weeks later, she called him at work. He had already called her twice, but hung up when her voice mail answered. In the meantime, they each tried to convince themselves that they should not call each other again, but they desperately needed to see each other. He invited her out for a drink. She set the date, time, and place. He showed up with a rose, a single pink rose. The minute she saw it and him, the twitching body parts began to thump. Her attachment became a blur, and she didn't know what to do. He did. He said all the right things, in just the right tone of voice, at the right moment, which created a corresponding thumping in his corresponding body parts. She told him about her attachment. He told her about his. Well, not exactly. Although there was someone, his someone knew what the deal was. That's when she realized she was headed for trouble. Quickly, she made her excuses and took her thumping body parts home. In the meantime, he had two more drinks and tried to figure out what he was going to do and how he was going to do it.
We live in the meantime while we are learning about love. We flounder around, involving ourselves in strange alliances, making up rules as we go along, in the name of what we think love is, or should be. We watch and listen to others, believing they know all there is to know about love and relationships. The truth is that they, like the rest of us, are learning by trial and error. At best, we pick and choose who to love and how we will love them. At worst, we discover that it is virtually impossible to do enough, fast enough, for enough people, in enough situations to receive from them the love, admiration, or acceptance we seem to need. In the meantime, while we are learning the truth about love, we can make a pretty big mess of most things. Nowhere do we make a bigger mess than in our so-called loving relationships.
They were at it again! He and she both knew that they needed to make a swift but loving departure from the relationships they were in. Neither of them had the courage, strength, or presence of mind to do so. He didn't leave because his attachment had been so good to him. In the three-plus years they had been together, they had really been through a lota lot of hysteria about whether or not they should stay together! In the end, they stayed together because they had nowhere else to go. She stayed with her attachment to avoid facing the fear of spending time alone. She had been there and done that so many times before. It was not a very pleasant possibility to look forward to, and she surely did not want to subject herself to it voluntarily. In the meantime, she kept hoping against hope that somehow, some way, her attachment would miraculously disappear or become the love man of her dreams, meaning that she would live happily ever after. That's how she convinced herself, time and time again, to stay. In the meantime, she kept looking elsewhere for something else, although she was not quite sure what it was she was looking for.
Love is the only thing we need. Love is our peace. Love is our joy, health, and wealth. Love is our identity. We go into a relationship looking for love, not realizing that we must bring love with us. We must bring a strong sense of self and purpose into a relationship. We must bring a sense of value, of who we are. We must bring an excitement about ourselves, our lives, and the vision we have for these two essential elements. We must bring a respect for wealth and abundance. Having achieved it to some satisfactory degree on our own, we must move into relationships willing to share what we have, rather than being afraid of someone taking it. Joyful sharing and excitement. Value, purpose, and vision. That's what love is about. When we bring these things to the relationship, love becomes a great multiplier and enhances the experience of life. When we do not have these things in place, the search to find love sets up the experiences we need to discover what is true about love and what is not. The discovery process is called the meantime.
We enter relationships looking for love, expecting someone to love us or accept us lovingly. This makes perfectly good sense if you consider that we are each born to express and receive love. In some unfortunate situations, we can want love or acceptance so badly that we will do almost anything to get it. We break love's rules. We disregard love's house. We forget to set love boundaries. We allow people to step in, be in, move in, live in our lives in ways that have nothing to do with love. Even when we have boundaries or standards clearly defining what we will do, how we will do it in the name of love, and what we expect in return, there never seems to be enough love to fill the void we have all, at one time or another, felt in our hearts. When we believe we do not have enough love in our lives, we enter the meantime. What we fail to understand is that we are the love we seek. Until, however, we can recognize ourselves as love and live in harmony with our true identity, the void grows deeper, wider, and more painful.
They just didn't get it! He called several times during the next several weeks. At first, she refused to return his calls. She was struggling to shake and break her attachment. He had already shaken his, although he had forgotten to tell her that she had been shook! "Surely she knows!" he thought. "She has to know!" In the meantime, people often forget to say what they mean or mean what they say because they assume you already know. He did not assume that he would pass her on the street, but he did. The moment they saw each other, the thumping startedhis mind, her heart, and their body parts. They spoke. Actually, she spoke first. He responded by talking to her about the calls. Feeling guilty, as we often do in the meantime, she agreed to call him later. She did, and they agreed to meet.
When you're in the meantime you want an escape route! You want something to do other than all that meantime stuff. They wanted to do something about their thumping body parts. They wanted to be attached to one another. They thought it was love. It had to be love! Why else would it keep showing up, thumping and giving them the perfect excuse to break all other attachments. The meantime is not about breaking up attachments. It is about creating attachments honestly and lovingly. However, in the meantime, the thumping body parts are completely unaware of this little tidbit of information. He made the offer. She accepted. On opposite sides of town, both of their other attachments were fed up with excuses and ready to do another kind of thumping of body parts!
Copyright 1998 by Iyanla Vanzant
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