Ever feel like you are living in limbo?
The Washington Post recently ran an article about the Oakwood Apartments where Mark is staying and the many Foreign Service families who are much higher ranking — including ambassadors waiting for Congressional confirmation — who are living there. They’re not at home any more but not in their new country either. I thought, jeez, isn’t it reassuring that it’s not just us! While simultaneously thinking, it feels like it’s just us.
It reminds me of waiting on our first child and having the absurd sense that we were going through an experience that no one else had ever had. The paradox was that we were: it was our first baby. And yet what is more universal than childbirth?
I know as a therapist that “normalizing” or universalizing can really help clients feel better — yes, many people struggle with the same issues you do; you’re not alone, and you’re not crazy. Yet I also know that it’s just as important to acknowledge the feelings and experiences that are unique to each person.
At the National Association of Social Workers conference last week, for instance, former children in foster care, including an esteemed researcher with a Ph.D., were asked what social workers could do better for children in state care. They said to see them as individuals, to see their potential. My first thought was, are you kidding me? How does “the system” pull that off? With every kid? Can you give us something more concrete?
Apparently not. Apparently what we all need most is to know we are seen, we are visible, and that someone has hope for us just as we are.
Which is in a way the same as saying we are all the same — all human, all normal, all lovable, all connected.
Talk about universal — a tenet of all the world’s major religions, theories of human development, and philosophies.
So perhaps it’s something I can get more comfortable with, even during that uncomfortable limbo when it seems life hasn’t started yet. Because of course it has.