Sitting with a friend, who was going through a very difficult life experience, we brainstormed ways to ease some of the difficulty. Back and forth we bounced ideas around and yet nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to be the right next thing to do.
So we sat a little while longer, in silence, looking out the window. Occasionally, our eyes would meet as if to say, “There’s got to be a way through this.”
When I looked out the window again, four words came to me. Words that I had read some time ago in an article. They felt like the next right thing to say to Leslie. I looked back at her and gently said, “Les, I think it’s time to ‘stay in the unresolved.’”
With her still looking out the window her eyes welled up.
My heart was hurting for her and I deeply wanted to take it back and tell her, “I’m kidding, I have a great idea!”
But I didn’t and so I waited.
After about thirty seconds she looked at me with the tears now falling down her face and said, “Shit, this sucks so much and I know you’re right.”
I took her hand and gently squeezed it, continuing to hold onto it as we gazed out the window again. We must have sat there for at least 15 minutes saying nothing while intentionally giving permission to stay in the unresolved.
A Shift Occurs
During that time something shifted for both of us. The burden that was there no longer felt as heavy. There was space in the room that wasn’t there before.
Leslie looked at me and said, “I’m able to breathe more easily. I’m not gripped by the fear as I was even though I still don’t have a clue what’s next. I feel lighter. I’ll wait until it’s clear to me that there’s something I can do.”
I felt lighter, too, understanding I wasn’t there to bring her a miracle solution. I wasn’t there to keep her from going through what she was going to have to go through. The best I could do for my friend was to simply have her back. Give her my complete presence as needed. Be her soft landing place.
Moving Through the Muck
When life throws us something so unexpected, so painful, so shocking, the thought of staying in a place that is causing so much emotional pain and confusion can feel scarier than the event that caused the internal turmoil.
Our ego hates the unresolved. It prefers pushing our way through murky waters instead of hanging out in the muck until a clearing shows up.
Even a tiny one.
Because that tiny clearing is enough to allow us to begin moving through the muck toward a resolve.
As I share this with you, it was five months ago that I was sitting with Leslie on her couch.
It took a little over a month before she saw a tiny clearing in the muck. In that moment a way forward came to her. A way that neither of us would have thought of when this all started.
That clearing took her only so far and then she had to hang out in the muck and the unresolved again.
The difference this time was she was more comfortable in that place. She trusted it. A few days later another clearing showed up.
On and on it went – muck, clearing, muck, clearing, muck, clearing – until she was completely on the other side of it four months later.
As I watched Leslie move through those four months, a calm came over her. The more she trusted the process the more still her mind became. In that stillness, answers were revealed to her that guided her through the muck and closer to a beautiful resolution.
With all the difficulties and heartbreak that’s going on in the world it’s easy for us to be stuck in the muck.
Keeping Leslie’s journey in mind, I allow myself to hang out in the muck and stay in the unresolved during the days my heart and soul are hurting. Without the resistance of feeling what I’m feeling, my body more easily relaxes and my inner peace returns.
If you are going through a challenging time right now, I invite you to trust the muck and allow yourself to stay in the unresolved. In time, both will transform into clarity and resolve.
Please be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with others.