Holding Space

Holding space for someone is an act of love and trust. Sometimes, we can hold space for someone we love, right by their side. They need and want us there, as they navigate their challenge or growth. How fortunate we are to be able to stand in love and support for this person. This is the love that reveals support and commitment. The kind of love that communicates, “I’m here for you, through thick and thin.” At other times, our person needs space in another way. Real space. They need to move on. To hold space in this instance also requires love and trust and we don’t have to harden from a sense of abandonment. Instead, we can choose to stand with love for that person and trust their decision and journey. The heart and mind ache, out of pure love, and you need to understand that this ache comes from another beautiful kind of love. A love of freedom and trust. The kind of love that communicates, “I trust you and I trust this moment.”
I’m happy to share a recent story from my life, when my 14-year-old Son held space for me, right by my side. I was stressed and in a bad mood. The kitchen was a mess, I had been working many hours and I returned home with Target bags full of overdue items, to stock the home. I know that I’ve mentioned an abundance of blessings here, my Son, my home, the mess of things in my home, work and the ability to stock our shelves. Yes, abundance and gifts of a full life. I acknowledge this abundance and I am grateful. And still, I get overwhelmed. Back to the story. I walked in, exhausted and stressed and my Son sensed my mood. He asked how he could help. I barked something like, “I have so much to do, I don’t even know where to start asking for help!” He could have easily walked away and instead, he stood there, full of love and patience while I moved at a frantic pace through the kitchen, tending to my list of to do’s. About a minute later, he asked again, with a soft smile and kind eyes, “Mom, what can I do to help?” His presence and steadfastness gave me a glimmer of hope, that I could count on him and still, I was a little defensive and apprehensive. I wasn’t sure I could trust this kind of support, considering my impatient behavior (I have a history of relationships ending in hard times and feel like my behavior or way of being are responsible for the losses). I snapped an order, “Take the toothpaste and deodorant upstairs.” He did what I asked of him and I continued to work. He came back and said, “What else can I do, to help you?” More hope…cautiously, I trusted his support. I gave him another task, which he completed and then returned to stand with me again. At this point, the clutter began to clear, both in the physical space and in my mind. I stopped and hugged him. I thanked him for holding space for me. I acknowledged that my behavior gave him every right to walk away, several times…and yet, he didn’t. I told him that made me feel safe and supported. He held space for me. His love, patience and support lifted me up and created a deeper foundation of trust in our relationship. He chose to stand with me, again and again, until his love conquered my fear of failure, not enough, or whatever I was experiencing. We are stronger together and as individuals because of his love and support. I felt seen and understood. When I acknowledged and thanked him, he felt seen and understood. We held space for each other, right by each other’s side.
I have many more stories in which I am holding space from afar and I would guess there are others holding space for me in this way, too. Writing about the stories of letting go of the ones we love, while they seek their path, is considerably more difficult. There seem to be no golden nuggets of understanding great enough to outshine our ache for their presence. There are no heroes in these stories. Only those who moved on and those who are left behind, wanting. Walking away seems different than moving on. Walking away seems weak and effortless. Moving on seems courageous. Either can seem selfish. Neither is. Walking away can feel like failure and abandonment, while moving on feels like courage and freedom. In either case, when someone walks away or moves on, they’re following their heart. They’re choosing courage and growth over fitting in to something that doesn’t work. You can still hold space for them, with love and trust for your path and theirs. Our most fulfilling relationships demand our greatest risks of the heart – we don’t get one without the other. I choose to live big, love big and risk big, with an open heart. Today, I have a few relationships I can count on, in which my dearest friends and family will hold space for me, no matter the circumstance, and I return that love. If you’re holding space for someone who isn’t thinking about you, that’s okay, too. Love isn’t always a two-way street. Trust the timing of the journey, yours and theirs. Trust the rhythm of life that requires loving and letting go. Trust the space in between the beginning, the end and the new beginning and hold space for love.

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