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  • Lara Krawchuk, LCSW, MPH

Waiting for ....

Lately it feels like much of life is about waiting. It feels a bit like being in a state of suspended animation. I feel alive, but not entirely present in my life. I can’t seem to settle. I am constantly asking myself “Wait, what I am I forgetting?”. I check around for what needed item I do not have with me, but I can’t seem to find anything. I frequently feel slightly lost. There are so many tangible things I am waiting on, but mostly I seem to be waiting for the world to return to a better version of itself. One that feels more kind, connected and hopeful. I keep waiting.

Recently, the endless waiting has been tinged with a sense of loss and dread. Winter is coming! The pandemic rages on. Politics are a mess. My children’s schools have recently warned families that we may need to return to virtual schooling. I can’t quite figure out how to visit with my mother if we can’t sit distantly on the porch. My beloved Thanksgiving holiday celebration has been cancelled and Im not sure how to make the holiday season festive. My house remains under unexpected construction. My kid’s moods have tanked as they recognize the many challenges winter will bring to their social lives. The edges of their resiliency are fraying a bit. This makes me so sad. I feel the weight of their losses most acutely. I am waiting for their lives to return to normal.

Some days the waiting is ok. Others it is really difficult. On the tough days a mix of anxiety, tension, and worry can be felt thrumming through my body. This grates on the nerves and exhausts me. My nervous system feels on constant alert. I often do not know exactly what to do with myself. I fall asleep watching calming British baking shows at 8 PM. I awake earlier then usual. I have taken up running to expel the nervous energy inside me. I used to hate running. Now I look forward to it. At least when I am running, I can chart a course that makes sense. I used to love to be spontaneous. Now I crave order and predictability.

You too may be feeling burdened by waiting. Please know you are not alone. Most Americans, including we therapist types, are right there with you. We are all stumbling around, finding our way forward in uncertain times. This is not easy. Here are a few ideas to help you navigate the burden of waiting

1) Acknowledge your truth. Do not push away the frustration, confusion or sadness that can come with long periods of waiting. Instead, admit when you are having a bad day or week. Be honest about the struggle. If, you have had a bad month or months; it might be time to seek some extra support to help you find your way. It takes wisdom and courage to ask for help.

2) Express yourself. Welcome those parts of you that are struggling to share their truths. Find a variety of creative ways to express what you are struggling with. Talking to a friend, journaling, making a playlist, collage, and movement can all be ways to express emotion. Get creative and let your truth shine through. Pushing away our truths, no matter how challenging, only makes them fight harder to be heard. This can lead to us acting out in ways we do not feel super proud of. Making take time to safely express your feelings can dial back the intensity of the emotions or even lead to create solutions to previously confounding challenges.

3) Reach out and ask for help. Just the other day a friend and I were talking about the hard time she was having. Life had been unkind to her lately. Lots of stress, much loss and sorrow. Suddenly, she apologized for sharing her woes with me. I reminded her that just two weeks before she had spent an hour listening to my litany of worries related to our uncertain world. She got quiet and then we both started laughing. We all have problems these days, but luckily, they usually do not seem to overflow on the same week. We can be there for each other. When one is down the other lifts her up and vice versa. Identify people you can share your burdens with when they feel too heavy to carry alone. Do this for others when they need extra help. This is a gift!

4) Expand your helping circle. There are so many people in the world willing to lend a helping hand or listening ear. Try to expand the people in your life who can support you when times are tough. Family, friends (near and far), friendly neighbors, social media supporters, and helping professionals may offer a safe space to lean into when you are having a tough time. Asking for support is a sign of wisdom and strength. If you do not get what you need from one person, ask another. Eventually you will get some of what you need for comfort. Getting a little bit of TLC from someone who cares can truly be a balm for a battered soul.

5) Try new things. This is a good time for exploration. Coax out your inner artist or baker. Try running. Learn a new language. Put together a puzzle. Try something new. If it does not float your boat, put it away and try something else. You may just discover previously unknown parts of yourself to nurture as you wait for more familiar parts of yourself to re-emerge.

6) Nurture HOPE. No doubt that times are tough. This winter is likely to be hard, but human beings over the ages have exhibited enormous resilience. Hope springs eternal, as they say. Find yours for this moment. The touch of someone you love, cuddling with a treasured animal companion, the beauty of a morning sky, a walk in the woods. I have said this many times before but remember to identify anything that brings you hope and connect with that each day.

Sometimes we need a little help naming, claiming and making sense of tough emotions. If you or someone you love is struggling in this time of waiting remember that help is near. Simply call 610-209-3111 or email us healingconceptsllc@gmail.com. We, at Healing Concepts, LLC would be honored to support your journey towards healing and well-being.

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