• Jennifer Watson

Liminal Space




The energies of liminal space, of transition, of the time in between are energies like uncertainty, lack of clarity, fear of the unknown and so on. It’s extremely challenging...if we reflect on our lives, we’ve all experienced thresholds in our lives. The only way out is through, the only way through is in.


I wonder if the invitation at this time is to pause, to discern how to be in the world.


Perhaps it is not an either/or - either I accept the time apart as a retreat of sorts from the doing of life or I fret and worry about keeping the lights on. Perhaps I am being asked to simply hold these energies in this threshold space, this liminal time and to be patient.

- Christy W., SoulCollage® Facilitator



APRIL 27, 2020


I have a fractured tooth.


A week ago my lovely new dentist informed me that I grind my teeth really hard. So hard that I fractured my #18 molar in the night.


It is ridiculously painful. I threw my back out years ago and always thought that was the worst pain ever. Doesn't even come close to this intense and excruciating pain radiating and pulsing and throbbing along the left side of my face.


This is so stupid.

Never had a dental emergency in my life and I have to get one in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

OF COURSE I do.


So here I am today reclining backwards, head down, feet up with the dentist behind her PPE plastic face shield and N-95 mask as she wiggles a needle around in my cheeks and gums trying to get my mouth all numbed up in preparation for a temporary crown. She is very kind and taking things slowly. The needle sticks hurt, but I can tell she is trying to be gentle.


I'm in so much pain that the dentist has to use extra numbing agent. Finally after multiple needle pricks, she pokes around a bit with her finger and asks if it hurts. It does, but I can tell that it's starting to go numb.


"Let's let that anesthetic work for a bit," she says and tips my chair up to an upright sitting position. "I'll be back in a few minutes."


As I sit up I notice what's right outside the windows.


Two magnolia trees in full bloom.


Seriously, Universe? Today? You give me a fractured tooth, an emergency trip to the dentist AND full-on magnolia blossoms?


The tears start leaking from my eyes. I can't stop them.


In a moment I'm really crying.


Hard.


The office manager (who also happens to be the dentist;'s husband) walks into the surgery, sees me a sobbing mess and gently asks, "Are you in a lot of pain? Can I get my wife for you?"


I'm in pain...but it's not what you think.


"I"m sorry," I sob. "My dad died a year ago. It's the anniversary tomorrow."


I take a shaky breathe and continue, "I was OK until I saw the magnolias."


And then I sob harder. "I'm so sorry. I'll pull myself together. You can't work on my mouth when I'm like this."


Even though I can't see his face, the office manager has kind eyes behind his PPE face shield and in a kind voice he says, "Oh, it's OK. We all have these things My wife's dad died nine years ago last week. It was still hard. You take your time."


After a few minutes I pull myself together. And 40 minutes after that I leave the dentist's office with a new temporary crown, minus $530 and an appointment the following week for a permanent crown.


Liminal space. More pain. More waiting.


It feels like the dentist - as gentle as she was - took a hammer to the side of my face.


I cry all the way home. Physical and emotional pain running rampant through me.


At home, before bedtime...I look at the daily numbers and I think of the families who are grieving. My face throbs, but I attempt to stop feeling sorry for myself. There is so much more to grieve than my painful tooth.


Deaths in the U.S.: 56,795

MAY 8, 2020


The few times I've been out since getting my crown, I feel like I see magnolias in blossom everywhere.


Why did I never notice these before in Rhode Island??


Since temporary crown day there is continued pain/swelling. infection. The dentist thought I would need a root canal, but I learn via the endodontist that because of the placement of the fracture that root canal is not a great option for me. And now I wait until Tuesday when I see the oral surgeon for a tooth extraction and bone graft.


Liminal space... Waiting. Breathing. Grieving.


The pandemic continues. I think of my dad when I see the magnolias, but now I think of all of the other dads and daughters and moms and everyone who has lost someone in these terrible terrifying weeks.


Deaths in the U.S.: 78,615


MAY 10, 2020


"How are you doing?" my husband asks me.


We're in the bedroom just after putting our daughter to bed.


"Eh," I reply. "It hurts. I'll be glad when Tuesday gets here and the tooth comes out."


But it's more than that.


I haven't talked to him about what else is on my mind. He's in the midst of work, writing with his writing group, and now starting a podcast. He's exhausted from his crazy full-time job, but has found renewed energy for his writing and this new podcast adventure.


I'm so happy for him. I really am. It's amazing and wonderful to see him so energized and engaged.


But I'm still feeling miserable for me no matter how hard I'm trying not to be.


It's not just the tooth.


It's not just being home all of the time as the on-call parent for my daughter during virtual school while my husband works.


It's the collective trauma of this pandemic.

It's my depression and anxiety kicking into high gear.

It's the continued grief for my dad's passing.

It's that it really hit me for the first time this weekend that the business I've worked to build over the last two years is...dying. Or that I'm letting it die because I haven't had the energy or perseverance to adapt and reconnect with "my" people. I'm so disengaged and disconnected from all that I love right now.


Liminal space. Thresholds that I'm net yet crossing. Waiting. Afraid. Unsure. Still processing. Too much to process.


I tell him all of this and then feel even worse because I have completely rained on his excitement.


And still the pandemic rages.


Deaths in the U.S.: 80,787

MAY 12, 2020


Getting my tooth extraction is something of a horror show. The oral surgeon is running an hour and ten minutes behind schedule. When he finally arrives, he doesn't speak to me, only to his assistants (who both happen to be very kind to me. Very reassuring.) I barely finish signing the paperwork when the surgeon grabs my face and jabs a long cotton swab covered in goop into my mouth. "Bite down," he says. So I do. Then he yanks that out of my my moth, grabs my face again, and with no warning at all stabs a needle into the inside of my cheeks.


Hard.


I yell.


WTF??


He does it again. I yell again.


"You seem nervous," he says, turning away from me.


I want to shriek, "Really??? I seem nervous?? You aren't exactly calming my nerves!!!" but I don't.


With his back towards me he asks, "You want some light sedation? You seem too nervous to just do a local. You can have light sedation."


My heart is pounding so I say, "OK...?"


More paperwork.


Then the assistants quickly put an oxygen mask over my nose, put an needle in the top of my hand for the IV, and as the oral surgeon grabs my face again...blissful sleep.


Once at home I collapse in bed. My wonderful husband gets me egg drop soup from our local Chinese place. It's waiting for me when I wake up.


I go to bed early and sleep through the night plagued by uneasy dreams of oral surgery and hospitals and medical personnel in PPEs leaning over me again and again. Of others surrounding me...dying, dying, dying.


Liminal space. When will this all end?


Deaths in the U.S.: 83,425


MAY 13, 2020


I wake up feeling sore and wiped out. Between the tooth extraction, the abscess (did I mention that the tooth had abscessed?), the dreams, and the continual waiting and not knowing my body feels heavy with exhaustion.


But at least there is no more excruciating pain.


While I hope to spend the day sacked out on the couch, right before lunchtime my daughter has a meltdown over her math app. Two months of second grade virtual school and she still has a tough time with this particular app. She sobs. I suggest we take a break. "No!" she yells, "I'm going to finish this!!" I'll give it to her, she is persistent. I struggle to help her calm down. Eventually she does and we work through her math problems together.


A friend texts in the late afternoon inviting my daughter and I over for a social distancing play date in their backyard. As much as I just want to lay down on the couch, I instead accept the invitation.


It's so good to see and talk to my lovely friend...even from 8 feet away. The girls run around. They're good about maintaining social distancing. They know the "sickness" drill. My friend and I chat about unimportant things, but eventually commiserate about virtual school, what may or may not happen this summer with the local swim club, and being very tired of our messy houses. As much as we want to end on a good note, we discuss the pandemic. My friend is a hospital Occupational Therapist. She tells me about two COVID-19 patients who are recovering after being at death's door last week, but it's small comfort for her having seen more folks suffer and die than actually walk out of the hospital.


When we say goodbye, my friend says, "I can't wait until this is all over because I'm going to give you and everyone the biggest hugs ever."


Liminal space. More waiting. Disconnections waiting for reconnections.


Deaths in the U.S.: 85,197


MAY 14, 2020...2:40 a.m.


I can't sleep.


Husband and daughter are sound asleep.


My monkey mind is whirling.


So I post this sort of semi-coherent ramble on Facebook in the private SoulCollage® Facilitators group:


Hello, All,


Is anyone else here struggling with where to go next?

This weekend it really hit me hard that the business I’ve been building for the last 2 years - Soul Unfolding - is dead. Or at least on very long-term hiatus.


I had always planned to shift part of Soul Unfolding to online/virtual offerings, but not until I had built up a strong regular clientele of experienced SoulCollagers. Currently, I have a small and totally lovely crew of regulars.

I LOVE facilitating workshops. So I am totally struggling with being at home. I’m spending my days being the full-time, on-call parent for my 8.5 year-old daughter while my husband continues to work 50-70 hour weeks. (Please note that while I am feeling pitiful for myself, I am also extremely grateful that my husband still has his job...)

It’s just that I FINALLY found SoulCollage® - something I love and something that I seem to actually be good at (after many years of jobs I was good at, but really didn’t like) - and now I’m not able to do it. I’m feeling incredibly sad, lost, adrift.... I haven’t even had the energy or desire to do readings for guidance. Feeling stuck.

Is anyone else experiencing this?

Peace & creativity, Jennifer

PS It probably isn’t helping that it was just the year anniversary of my dad’s passing. I’m struggling with that, too.



In the SoulCollage® world we say, "All of the answers we need are already inside ourselves." But sometimes, when I am feeling low, adrift and like I just don't have the wherewithal to look within for help...I should know to reach out to the lovely and kind folks of the SoulCollage® Facilitator community. Here is some of the wisdom they were kind enough to take the time to share with me:


Using the words I was given earlier today for all the times the reins of my life were taken away from me - This may be a derailment, but it doesn’t have to be a train wreck- I’ve been derailed before and each time it feels this way. Free falling without a parachute. Something will come to you, but this time in between is so aggravating and it’s hard to not be upset by the need to do something about it.

- Janine K


[S]ounds like grieving is an important step in this process. you/we have a lot of loss to face. sometimes feeling it and giving it room or a card in our case can get our energy flowing again.

- Sarita B.


I do understand. I was full of enthusiasm and energy prior to this. Had programs organised and was stepping out to provide kids groups in school holidays. I agree that some grieving may be necessary as you give up (at least for now) some aspects of your SoulCollage business.

- Nanoya B.


In these strange times, we need more self-compassion than ever. If your focus is on ‘where to go next’ in the current climate, you are inviting frustration to be your companion. Can you look for the gift in these uncertain times? Can you slow down and trust the process of living each day one at a time? SoulCollage®️is a powerful tool when you want it, it will be there for you.

- Carla S.


Love the name of your business “soul unfolding”! I would not call your business dead, perhaps dormant...

-Elise C.


I hear and honor your frustration, your fear, your sadness, your grief. I also read and honor your gratitude for some of the good things of the moment. If you need it/want it, I give you permission to have a good ol' fashion pity-party. This is an unprecedented, topsy-turvy time. None of us have to know how to do this gracefully, it's never happened in our lifetime before. What I see is you having the courage and know-how to reach out for support.

- JJ L.


It feels like a really stuck/hard/sad time in many ways. I just hope you know you are not alone in how you feel. And I hope you will hang on to the tail of your dream! Don't let it go. You can do it! Just in a bit different form than you originally imagined. If you want you could make some cards on exactly what you are feeling right now.

- Missy I.


I’m going through the same thing! I bought an office condo and converted it into an art studio for Art Heals the Soul . It’s empty now and there’s no telling when I’ll be able to resume group or individual sessions. Processing the grief.

- Anne B.


Maybe this hiatus is creating space for you to continue to build your business in ways not originally anticipated...It could be a time of creative fermentation...

- Meri A.


I've been teaching online since 2003...first by phone (yes dinosaur times) now by zoom. It can be done...and here's what I can offer... sit with the spirit of your business, ask it to show you it's vitality + Joy. That hasn't left, it's shifted.

- Michelle L.


I am going through this as well...

- Rhonda M.


From my perspective and what I am noticing myself each of us is moving through tremendous disorientation and most are experiencing the aftershocks of global trauma - that can sap energy. Reorganizing offerings around themes and tapping into your gifts, perspectives or client needs might be an important shift. It is a challenging time of not knowing.

- Cat C.


Discomfort is a funny friend, change sometimes takes a bigger fear...

- Cynthia T.


PLEASE don't stop!...Allow the anger and sadness, as Cat C. said, and activate your innate creativity and curiosity as to how to move forward for now...I believe in YOU.

- Anne Marie B.


Everyone of us must process these changes and come up with alternatives...As in BC (Before Covid) one solution did not fit us all. The same will be true PC. Each of us, our unique gifts and talents, will be designers of PC SoulCollage®...Each one of us will bring something to the table...So grieve, yes. Rail and rant. Then settle in to help us all find ways deliver the wisdom of SoulCollage to a World that desperately needs us.

- Lora D.


Maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity to grieve and the blogs, the cards, the letters, the developed yet not facilitated programming becomes a BOOK in response to our loss?

- Elizabeth G.


[M]ay I gently invite you to think of SoulCollage® EVOLVING... What it meant to Seena Frost [Creator of SoulCollage®] as a title to describe "Next..." or "Part II...", is probably different to each of us who have traveled our own journey of SoulCollage® discovery...no virus stops our energy for good. Do you have an EVOLVE card in your deck? I wonder what answers it might bring, or additions to the list of choices such questions might bring to light.

- Kate S.


I’m feeling the ups and downs of this time too. At times excited about the vast potential and the next moment unsure and grieving. I try to let myself feel it all and reach out to my cards for support and ideas. I’m glad to be part of this community where we can go through this together.

- Marcia C.


Thank you so much to all of the SoulCollage® Facilitators whose words are now healing my spirit and helping me move forward.


This post - like this time we are living through - doesn't seem to have a a true end. It seems most appropriate to close with the same words from it's beginning. Thank you, Christy, for your words, which helped shape my words...


I wonder if the invitation at this time is to pause, to discern how to be in the world.


Perhaps it is not an either/or - either I accept the time apart as a retreat of sorts from the doing of life or I fret and worry about keeping the lights on. Perhaps I am being asked to simply hold these energies in this threshold space, this liminal time and to be patient.








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SoulCollage® is a trademarked process created by Seena B. Frost, LMFT. For more information on Seena, the process, or Facilitator Training please visit her website.

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