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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How To Make it Through the Wait

This feels impossible. 

I am waiting. Waiting for something but with each day that goes by, the wait seems more unbearable. 

It's funny how the perception of time can change when you are waiting. When you are with someone you love (a person or a pet), savoring the last moments together before they leave you, the minutes incredulously fly by but when you're waiting for the results of a test, whether it's a medical exam,  school testing results (LSAT, GMAT) or even waiting for an urgent text, time somehow stretches itself languidly to a slow crawl. Impossible.

I find myself in a state of hyper-vigilance.  Waiting.

The thing is, I don't know how to do this. I am an extremely organized person. I like order and structure. It's a challenge dealing with the unknown, things I have no control over. Every day I wake up thinking "Today is the day!" and when I slide exhausted between the sheets at midnight I close my eyes with the disbelief that today was not the day. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the next day? I don't know. 

I decided to call some of the smartest people I know, people whose emotional IQ is off the charts, including one friend who is a therapist. I asked, "How do I do this without driving myself completely crazy? How do I even DO anything while I wait? How am I supposed to focus on anything other than this one thing? This is impossible!"

And here is what they said: 

-Occupy yourself. Do something. Go to work. Life goes on. Do your nails. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Call a friend and go out to a long dinner.

-Be a blessing to someone else. Offer to take a friend's kids to the park so she can have a break. Search for a charity online that is close to your heart and make a donation. Buy pet food and donate it to your nearest no-kill shelter. Basically, be an angel in someone else's life.

-Stay off the internet. Actually, go to Pinterest. Browse all the cool house designs or pink party favors or salsa recipes or submerse yourself in Minecraft.  Browse the attractions at Walt Disney World and plan out what your best day at the parks would look like.  Whatever you do, stay away from the subject matter that is driving you crazy. Don't go there. Don't go to Web MD, or your doctor/school/results web portal or to any site that will aggravate the wait. It won't help.

-Do something physical.  Swim in the ocean, play basketball, go for a run or even play a round of miniature golf. Salute the sun. Get your endorphins going.

-Give it up to God. If you have a belief system, then now is the time to sit down and have a talk with God. There are times in life that are hard, when the only true answer at the moment is to ask God to   soothe your mind. I followed this advice and went to Mass on Sunday (I am Catholic). After Mass, I shook the priest's hand and thanked him for his inspiring homily. I then asked if he would say a prayer for me and I told him about the wait. As he placed his hands on my shoulders and prayed, I felt tears roll down my cheeks. It felt good to let go. It felt cleansing.  In that moment there was only light.

-Get out of your surroundings If you're home, get outside. Go to work. Get out of the place that makes you feel stuck.

-Write down your feelings. Ask yourself this: What is the worst thing that can happen if today is not the day? Get your feelings down on paper so you can stop thinking about them. Many people find that if they write their feelings down, their minds relax.

-Stop ruminating. Your thoughts are swirling around this one thing. Every time your mind goes to that thought, change it. Sing a song. Sing the lyrics our loud. Say a prayer out loud. Occupy your mind with something else.

-Talk with someone who has been in your situation. You are not a special snowflake. Other people have waited for something just like you. Other people have felt the agony of the wait, just like you. Reach out to them. Ask them how they got through it. 

-Take care of yourself.  Take a cool shower with some soap that smells wonderful. Wander Trader Joe's choosing good, healthy foods. Slowly savor slices of cool watermelon or pineapple or whatever healthy food that makes you happy. 

-Celebrate the moment. You can't live your life in a state of wait. Whether it's the Wait For The  Text Response, The Two Week Wait, The Nine Month Wait, The Medical Test Wait or The News is Coming Wait, don't waste the moment you have right now. Yes, your life may change when the news or event happens but right now, you have the choice of whether this moment is happy or sad, pessimistic or optimistic. As my grandmother said "Don't borrow trouble." Stay in this moment. What happens in the future, will happen and worrying doesn't change the result.

So, I am trying all of these. Every one of them and then one day, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, it will happen. until then, I've gotta run. I have waves to splash in.

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