Living In The In Between
I was laying in bed thinking today about how I am living in the in between. I mean really, I guess all of life could be the In Between, but this in between feels hard though, menacing and exhausting. It reminds me of several summers ago at the beach when I was swimming against rip current trying to get to the shoreline. I was at the beach with my daughters having the best vacation. The waves were large and fun to jump! We weren't out too deep, just enough to be in front of the crashing waves and enjoy them. My youngest daughter, Elise, was in an inner-tube happily trusting me to hold her and jump the waves with her. My oldest daughter, Bella, was swimming and jumping right next to me. I could touch the bottom as could Bella, and we were having a blast.
An enormous wave came and caught us all off guard crashing right on top of us! Bella dove in with it and swam to shore. I however, couldn't go with it because I didn't want to let go of Elise. I tried to touch as Elise and I both came up gasping for air, the burn of salt in our nose and mouth. I was kicking as hard as I could holding her tube to try to move back to shore, but we weren't making any progress. We were just there, in the in between. In between the crash of the next wave over us, in between the breaking line and the shore, in between breaths. It was hard not to panic. I am a strong swimmer, but without the use of my arms, I couldn't go forward. We were just surviving each crash, a little more daunted with every wave that pushed us under.
My older daughter was on the shore pacing. I waved trying to be reassuring. My little one asked if we were ever going to get back on the beach. I said yes, but was curious how I was going to make that happen with such a strong undertow. Honestly, all I could think about was kicking to stay stationary and push myself up to let the waves break over my back and offer a little shelter to Elise. I was getting tired, out of breath and while trying to appear calm, I wasn't inside. After what seemed like forever, but was really only 10-15 minutes, Bella walked over to a family and told them she thought I was caught in rip tide and asked if could they help. To her surprise, the teenage boy said he was a lifeguard. He swam out while she anxiously watched; and with all my might, I pushed Elise in her tube towards him. He grabbed her and pulled her to shore never getting caught in the undertow. With the use of my arms, I dove into a wave and swam to shore with it. I have never been so grateful to be out of the water. I thanked my rescuer and we sat on the shore, shell shocked and relieved.
This is how I feel now, like I have been kicking and kicking and kicking, but I am going nowhere. I am stationary. I am between where I was and where I want to be in what seems like a never-ending time. My daughters are scared they will never go back to "normal." They miss what was, the security and routine of school, sports and friends; and I am again reassuring them that we will get to the other side while I kick with all my might to keep my head above water and encourage them. Inside though, I wonder how much longer can I tread and where is the lifeguard disguised as a tourist?
Perhaps you can identify with the in between. Maybe yours is COVID related - in between seeing family and friends, resuming life as we knew it or working a normal day. Maybe you like me have a sick parent that you live in between scans while you wait for how to feel based on the latest report. Maybe you are in between who you are and who you want to be. Whatever your in between is, know that you are not alone. It feels so isolating to be in the in between, and we tend to think we are alone.
You are not alone. You are brave for getting up everyday and doing your best. You are surviving this; maybe not thriving as you hoped, but you are doing it. I am realizing that surviving things is winning sometimes. I think the best we can do right now is take care of ourselves, put one foot in front of another, try to care for those we love, be kind to other humans knowing they are in their own in between and keep going even if it is just treading. If you are tired, give yourself a little rest. If you are fearful, take a deep breath and reassure yourself that you have done it thus far and you can do it a bit longer.
I know that as 2020 wrapped up and 2021 is here, many of us are trying to view it as an end to the in between and that things are getting better. I believe they are; I believe we can't be in this holding pattern forever. Circumstances change, people change, health changes. While we feel that we are in between in life, really what seems constant is change. Take care, and "just keep swimming."- Dory.