When people reach out to me — through social media, through email, through letters, or face to face conversations — they rarely describe their experiences in terms that a clinical psychologist or certified grief counselor might use.
People don’t say to me:
“I am currently at phase one of the life re-entry process.”
They say to me:
“I feel lost.” “I feel numb.” “I feel ashamed.”
More than anything, people tell me:
“I feel stuck.”
When you feel stuck, it means that you are living inside a “waiting room” of some kind.
It might be the waiting room of grief.
It might be the waiting room of guilt.
It might be the waiting room of shame.
It might be the waiting room of bitterness.
It might be the waiting room of depression.
It might be the waiting room of fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of not being able to support yourself without financial assistance from your partner or parents, or your current job… fear of what comes next…
Sometimes, we spend so many months or years inside our own private waiting room that we don’t even realize we’re inside of it anymore. We have forgotten there’s any other place to be, any other way to live, or feel…
The waiting room becomes our permanent residence.
No moving forward. No action. No exploration.
This is the definition of stuckness.
There is only one way to break out of the waiting room.
You simply decide to do it. (Click to Tweet!)
You decide to put one foot in front of the other, make one choice at a time, and slowly… re-enter the world. Re-emerge into your own life. Not as the same person you were before. As a different person. Stronger. More compassionate. More resilient that you ever dreamed possible.
The first step?
First: you must understand what kind of waiting room you are currently living inside.
You must see your loss and give it a name.
There’s a simple way to do this.
I call this exercise: The Seer.
You close your eyes and imagine yourself inside your personal waiting room.
Maybe it’s a cold, empty room. Maybe it’s a soft, comfortable room that you don’t particularly want to leave. As you envision yourself inside your room, ask yourself:
“What is the real cause of my stuckness? What is this room I am in?”
Keep asking yourself these questions until something… comes up.
Something that makes you feel surprised, stunned, or perhaps like you want to cry.
The real cause of your stuckness might not be something “big” or “dramatic.”
It might be something quite “everyday” and “ordinary,” like: “I feel really rejected because my best friend didn’t invite me to go to Europe with her. She did last year. Not this year. She took someone else instead. I feel left out.”
Try not to “judge” your pain or label it as “big” or “small.” Don’t worry about “assessing” it. Don’t worry about how it “compares” to other people’s pain.
Just try to describe it. Give it a name.
Then find someone you trust — a friend, loved one, or a coach — and tell them, “I need to share something with you. Something I’ve never said to anyone. Will you listen? Will you witness me?”
Tell them about the real source of your stuckness. Tell them about the kind of waiting room you are currently living inside. Let them see you, hear you, witness you. Let them be The Seer for you, as you reveal your loss for the first time… maybe ever.
Allowing another human being to see you, to truly know your pain, is the first step of you leaving the waiting room that has kept you stuck and isolated.
Now, at least one other person is part of your journey.
Now, you are no longer alone or invisible, saddled with a loss that no one knows, sees or understands.
Now, you know what kind of waiting room you are living inside.
Now, you can begin to come out…
Back to freedom.
Back to life.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Starting this April 7th, I am creating a biweekly three month program (https://secondfirsts.com/coffee-with-christina/) called Coffee with Christina. The cost is $30 a month so everyone can afford it and change their life. Our first live video class will be the Seer exercise, live with me. I hope you say yes!
Sign up here today and you will immediately join the private facebook group.
“What is the real cause of my stuckness? What is this room I am in?” *Answer* – Mine is built of bricks of Guilt and Fear. Fear of not being able to take care of myself and my animals, 100% on my own, so I must grovel to others. Plus Guilt from what these “others” go through in their own lives, hence my feeling of being obligated to help.
I found you by accident and I just got your book. I’m hoping I can find my life again. I’ve been grieving for at least 10 years. I’m 59 years old. The Waiting Room I’m living in is the past. The very long ago past; the young me past. The past where the real me resides…the one whose life ambition was to be a professional ballet dancer and I accomplished that at the age of 16. But I paid a heavy price for it. I was lonely until I met Ric at the age of 17 and he was 16 and we started dating three years later, married four years after that. I gave up my career to have this relationship but I was deeply in love. It was so easy to walk away from it all. We fulfilled each other’s wants and desires…we completed each other. We were soulmates. We were married May 17, 1981 a day of all possibilities and tremendous happiness. My whole world collapsed on May 8, 2008 when I divorced Ric. I divorced the person I loved most in the world besides my children but he had been abusing me for years and it had turned physical for the last five years of our marriage but I hung on. I thought if I changed or if I did things better he would be better to me. But that never happened. The abuse become worse as time wore on. The judge declared my marriage over and my life stopped. It truly just stopped. I thought that if I got the divorce my husband would see how much he had lost and get the help he needed. I was wrong. I did the right thing for me and my children but I paid a heavy price that I’ve regretted every since and I never moved on. Like a person that has died but still inhabits the earth not able to move past the pain to the spirit world.
During the course of the last seven years Ric said he was working on being a different person. He kept assuring me that we would work on our relationship..that we could get back together again at some point. We maintained a “relationship” but in separate living spaces. Still this whole time I was grieving because I wasn’t happy. I had one foot in the past and one foot in the terrible present where I didn’t want to be. He kept me there and I let him. He manipulated my pain for his personal satisfaction. Last month, he told me he was moving on with someone he used to date before me in high school. The girl before me????? How do I process that? Everything came crashing in on me. I had been living in the past for the last seven years. Remembering a person that no longer existed and hadn’t existed in decades. And now I’m mourning the death of my best friend, lover, companion, soulmate whose moved on with the one before me. But I’ve been mourning him for years already! I’ve been missing the past terribly. I want it back and I can’t go back but I don’t want to be here…not anymore. So my 20 year old self walks the beaches with my 19 year old better half, we hold hands, we make love, we get married over and over again, we conquor each other’s demons, we have our children, we build our life and then my life stops. So my Waiting Room is the past because that’s where I was happy, where life was fresh and new and full of hope and possibilities for the future and there was time….so much time to build a life together; to grow old together. I don’t get to do that now…oh I get to grow old alright but not how God promised it would be. I need a reason to live and go on and right now I don’t have a reason because I don’t live in the present. I live in the movie of my past with a big box of tissues. Tonight I start the Grief Conversation. It’s not going to be pretty but it won’t be hard because I’ve living with this pain and I know full well the depth of it.
I am just as sorry for you as I am for myself. My story is differnt but I am in the waiting room too. If you were being abused it would of continued. Love yourself more than you ever loved him. He most likely still has not received any help.
I am going to join Coffee with Christina too. I will see you there. Debra R.
I stumbled a cross your page and it hit home for me. At 51 I’ve been diagnosed bipolar and getting medication. As a child I was sexually abused by my brother and when I told my mother she said Nine out of ten men will do something like that. I was crushed being I just lost my father (I was 7). I battled depression all my life and turned seemed approval from a man for self worth. As a single mother to two kids due to my husband being on drugs, it’s been hard. I revolved my life around them, until they were grown and moved away. I must add that my older sister was like my second mother and always having to help me financially. Well I moved to be near my mother since my other sister moved her in with her in moms last years having Parkinson’s. Mom passed away at home and I (the baby) was the only one that didn’t get to say goodbye. Speeding from work to find she’d gone moments before. After that is when I had a brbreakdown, I felt like I had no one that didn’t judge me for my failures. Its taken 2 years of being on medicines that I have gotten much better. Yet I’ve never felt good enough and my 4 siblings judge me terribly cause they all have husbands. nice cars and nice homes. They say their there for me yet I they never contact me and when I’ve reached out to them they give me the feeling as tho I’m a failure. So for 2years now I have been in this waiting room and slowly have lost my joy. I feel numb. I want to figure out how to live and be happy. So I guess my reasons are grief, loss of self worth. Although my medicine has brought me along way I don’t get respect from the ones I love, only my daughter. And I don’t know how to het out of this dark hole of feeling like a failure. Any advice would be extremely appreciated.
Found your book recommended in a magazine in England. Just knew I had to get it. At last I had found someone who understood how I felt. I felt lost in a foreign land. My husband of three years died and my hopes and dreams died with him. No knight in shinning armour was going to give me the life I wanted. So after doing the Grief cleanse and sending my Survivor to the Seychelles to lie on a beach, she is just so cranky about that. Each day now I’m waking up to myself and putting together a life of new firsts. New kitchen, no job, just a seat in my sunny garden, no more condemnation, holiday on my own (it was fab). I don’t know what this new life is but its looking a lot nicer than the previous ones where I put my soul in another’s hands. I believe in God and he is still helping me through. I believe he let me find your book recommendation and so the way out of the darkness into the sunshine of my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.