The Horror of Uncertainty (and its Hidden Invitation)

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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As I’ve been going from therapy to therapy, trying to make room for whatever needs to be felt, trying to make room for myself instead of pushing Jorinde out of the way to make room for all the other stuff I need to do, I feel like I’m kind of caught in limbo. I have no real idea of when this situation will end. I’m actively trying to heal myself, but I notice that most things that seemed easy before are still hard. It’s still difficult to keep any sort of structure in my life, to take control over my life. I know I will need to make changes to my life going forward. I was running straight toward a vertical cliff and managed to break just in time, but it’s probably best to change directions now.

The thing is, I’m not really great at being in limbo. Uncertainty is possibly even worse than feeling depleted and depressed. At least depression gives you something to do: get out of your depression. It’s a direction. It’s a goal. It gives you a sense of purpose, even if it’s only to feel a sense of purpose again.

But this uncertainty just triggers a feeling of pure panic in me. I feel it in the pit of my stomach. And I want to fix it. I try to figure out 10 different ways of how to combine my job with my demanding family life. I talk to my partner and therapist. I look into different careers and then worry over money, my son, my own sanity. I even turn to the tarot cards hoping to find some kind of answer. Of course, the only answer they give is: right now you need to rest, the answer will come later.

This advice, not to make any big changes right now, has been coming at me from all angles as well: my therapist and doctor, the reflexologist, my partner and my sister have all told me that there’s no need to take final decisions at this point, that it’s even ill-advised. Right now, it’s just important to take time to rest, heal and find joy again.

When I do try to disentangle this anxiety knot in my stomach by going over different options, I also notice that it doesn’t do me any good. I’m not really able to think straight. I can’t see myself or my (future) situation clearly yet. If I imagine going back to work with the amount of energy I have now, I panic. If I start thinking about financial consequences, I panic. There’s just so much fear.

Yet in that uncertainty, I can also see the invitation. To stay with it, to trust despite the fear, to have faith. Not to have faith in the fairytale that everything will all be perfect in the end, but faith in knowing that things will happen the way they should happen. Faith in knowing I have people around me who will be there no matter what. Faith in knowing that I’ll be able to handle whatever comes my way.

Faith takes courage. It means acknowledging that certain things are unknowable for now, that they may always be unknowable, and still going forward head held high. You step into the dark trusting that your feet will land on something. For a control freak like me, it poses a real challenge. But in that challenge, I can also find a kind of purpose.

So my purpose, for the next weeks, is to learn to be without a clear purpose until it finally reveals itself. Until I’ve done the work that needs to be done beforehand. Until I can be with it without that ball of panic in my stomach.

The following words by Alan Watts have helped me before to stay in this state of being instead of doing. I want to share them with you here:

4 thoughts on “The Horror of Uncertainty (and its Hidden Invitation)

  1. Oh dear, there is only uncertainty in life. Anytime something can happen to me or to those I feel responsible for, anywhere. I try not to think too much about it, but it’s all we have. Absolutely no certainly or control. You can sure set up a destination, something you want to achieve, and one step at a time get closer to a situation you find to be a good compromise but getting derailed is always possible. Time does wonders though, and goes fast. Soon you are older, worry less, make less plans and have less wants.

    Liked by 1 person

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