June 11, 2021

Limbo Limbo Limbo

slow and low

I share about patterns. Here’s the pattern we’re in with respect to recovery (if we can call it that). More about the troublesome nature of that word – recovery – next time.

A lot of us are whispering “I’m so tired.” And we aren’t the “get a good nights sleep and all will be well” tired. We are a deeper kind of tired. We look at any task and feel a great sigh coming on. What’s the point?, we think. Life, it seems, requires too much effort.

We’re puzzled. Aren’t we supposed to be getting back to normal? Where’s our enthusiasm for all the stuff we were missing? Where’s our energy for everything we once did routinely? We just sigh.

This stage of emerging from disaster is not at all pleasant. I labeled it Limbo – because we are suspended, in transit between what we haven’t processed and what we don’t understand. Standing on a bridge and confused in both directions.

If you’ve had the feeling of a limb that has “fallen asleep” and then the prickling pain as the blood begins to flow again then you know this is that stage when we start again but it feels all prickly and wrong.

My definition of disaster is that it is significant enough in its disruption that it challenges our beliefs about what’s important and causes us to question what we thought about how the world works.
When we are compelled to question what we once did routinely, we grow tired. There’s a great efficiency to operating on autopilot. Now, we have questions about what’s necessary. What’s essential. What we really missed versus what we were secretly grateful to be relieved of. Nothing is automatic.

It’s a mistake to flog ourselves to get going again. As if jumping in is more virtuous. We are sold a Rambo, guns blazing version of resilience but most people aren’t buying that right now. We were shaken by pandemic and freezes and fires and losses and once we’ve seen that the merry go around was optional, we can’t be quickly convinced to jump back on the ride.

If we don’t rush this limbo period, if we ignore all the voices saying hurry up and get going again, those forces that want us to forget what we learned – our families, our lives, our institutions going forward will be better for it. Allow the questions. Make time for reflection so it doesn’t feel like distraction. You aren’t lazy, you’re taxed to the max. Accept that weighing is sometimes wearying and rest when you are tired.

There is no going back, no way to unknow what you learned, what you saw clearly. Don’t try. It will tear you apart.

Limbo. Slow and low. Take steps slowly to reboot. Go in with low expectations. Don’t expect anything to be the same.

We are all wiser now.

I wrote this for me and maybe for you too.

My work allows/requires me to speak with dozens of people every week. In depth. About what matters most to them in their work – and because we are not mere workplace components – their lives.

I’m big on confession and I hear a lot of them. People will tell the truth if you listen long enough. We all need someone to whom we can speak the truth. Even if we whisper it.

I don’t share individual confessions – that would be morally wrong. I’m very careful even share them “changing the names” because someone may recognize their story and wonder if I listened so I could mine them for nuggets. That also feels wrong. So if this sounds like you, just know everyone else said the same thing you did in the past week.

© Angela Blanchard

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