The State of “Limbo”
Welcome to the State of Limbo – that area in the travelogue in which you seem to run around in circles, or just state a sit-down strike and don’t move at all. It may be true that your vistas are limited and your opportunities for new experiences are narrowed. You might be willing to sacrifice the ability to move forward for the security—no matter how fleeting or illusory—of holding onto the relationship, marriage, person and/or dream. It’s your trip and you can plan it any way you want.
And when you visit or move into Limbo, you will be offered incessant advice from well-meaning friends and relatives:
“Why don’t you just file for divorce?”
“Get on with your life!”
“Why can’t you let go?”
“You’ll be much better off if you just face reality and move on!”
“When are you going to wake up and let your lawyer do his job?”
And some days you will take a few steps forward, to be followed the next day by several steps back into stagnation, lethargy or the familiar territory of the State of Limbo.
WHY WE STAY IN LIMBO
Many people wonder why they can’t move on. There are several reasons:
ANGER “I'm too angry to make any decision. Let him/her take action. I’m not doing anything!”
CODEPENDENCY “If I stay nice/loving/available, he’ll love me more/again.”
DENIAL “If I don’t make any decisions or take any actions then maybe this really isn’t happening.”
HOPE “Maybe he’ll change/end the affair/give up the booze/realize what he’s missing and come home.”
FEAR “I’m afraid if I let go, I’ll be a bag lady/alone/unloved unwanted/abandoned.”
FINANCIAL “The money is too much to give up.”
GRIEF “It’s all I can do to function. I can’t do any more now.”
HEALING TIME “I’m adjusting to my loss and that’s all I can do at this time.”
LACK OF SELF ESTEEM “I would be nothing without my spouse.”
MANIPULATION “I’m waiting for the right time to make any movement. I’m going to travel and spend his money for as long as I can.”
PAIN “I hurt too much to add other things to my life now.:
SADNESS “I’m too sad to take any action.”
STRATEGIC “If he has to file first, he’ll feel more guilty and be more generous.”
HOW IT FEELS TO BE “IN LIMBO”
Sometimes limbo does offer space to heal, grieve, plan, adjust. that is why you must listen to your own inner voice to tell you what is right for you. Don’t take action for the sake of pleasing anyone else or because of what other people think. It’s your life and your future and you are the best determinate of what is in your best interest. You will know when it is time to move on, and that will be when the pain of staying where you are is greater than the fear of taking whatever is the next step for you (asking him to leave, seeing a mediator, filing for divorce, letting your lawyer do discovery, going back to school, getting a job, etc.)
From time to time, you may feel exasperated with yourself, and then you add “guilt” to the other feelings you are trying to manage:
“I know I should do something more.” (You are “shoulding” on yourself.)
“I feel so bad that I can’t seem to make any decisions.” (Deciding not to decide IS a decision.)
“I feel so weak, stupid, powerless.” (As you lower your already vulnerable self esteem quotient.)
Give yourself permission to be wherever you are. Know that you are on your path and you will move forward when you are ready, willing, and able. Don’t compound the pain of divorce with the guilt of “shoulding” on yourself. Allow yourself the time and space and peace you need to adjust before you move on to the next step, whatever that is.
You will be ready to move when you are aware that staying hurts too much. And then you might move into a different state of limbo, but at least you are moving.
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