Back in May, my mentor shared with me a lovely article on “holding space.”
Holding Space: It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.
– Heather Plett, What it Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Although I haven’t quite mastered the 8 Space Holding Tips that Heather Plett wrote about, I still feel as if I am the quintessential “Space Holder.”
The fact that I’m Aquarius just adds fuel to the fire.
I make strong emotional connections to people; instantly. I’m talking anyone and everyone. Even strangers I meet outside of 7-11. They become “my person” and I become fixated on their well-being. I commit myself 110%, showering them with love, compassion and my gentle, yet, fiery passion in hopes that my personal investment – despite the toll it may take on me- will yield a strong return for that person.
While holding space is beautiful, it can take an emotional, spiritual and physical toll on one’s well-being.
I know this from experience.
Today, my very own “Space Holders,” mastered Tip 7: Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc.
Heather Plett describes this as creating a space where “people feel safe enough to fall apart without fearing that this will leave them permanently broken or that they will be shamed by others in the room.”
My “Space Holders” let me break down, over my Turkey Club sandwich.
I cried. Cried again. And cried some more.
It felt so good to release the pain, anger, frustration and anxiety.
It felt so good to know, despite being in a crowded restaurant, it felt like it was just me and my “Space Holders.” Alone. Safe. Okay to be vulnerable. Okay to– yes, you guessed it- cry some more.
They let me vent, cry and process my emotional weekend, without feeling compelled to fix me or my situation; because, as true “Space Holders,” they knew they couldn’t fix it or me.
After a difficult weekend of holding space for my family, I took a 4.5 hour drive back to Delaware. Alone, in the car, I found myself thinking: But who holds space for me?
Obviously, earlier in the day I was sitting with two people doing just that but what I longed for was my family to hold space for me while I held space for them.
Quite frankly, it pisses me off [p.s. Sorry for the language, Grammy] that I can find the wherewithal to hold space for others while dealing with my own “stuff,” but my perception is that others [my family] can not do the same in return.
This year alone, I’ve suffered monumental losses.
- I lost the family and safety net I developed at IUP after leaving my job.
- I moved to a new state.
- I started a new job.
- My precious dog, Roset, died unexpectedly.
- I ended a six-year relationship.
- I had to give away my two cats, Black and White, who, in all fairness, I didn’t even like but after the L’s I took this year, I was content with knowing that I still had them at the very least.
On top of all of this, I struggle with, at times, crippling anxiety.
When I reach out for support, the response is typically:
- “Sorry, dude.”
- “I don’t know what to tell you.”
- “I think it’s time to get over it.”
Despite this sense of feeling alone, I still manage to hold space for others, with a genuine smile on my face.
I feel peace knowing that I can give to others what I so desperately want for myself.
The compassionate side of me holds no ill feelings towards my family for their inability to hold space for me in the way I want and/or need. As Heather Plett said, “holding space is not something that we can master overnight, or that can be adequately addressed in a list of tips like the ones I’ve just offered. It’s a complex practice that evolves as we practice it, and it is unique to each person and each situation.”
Rather than expecting something from someone that may not have the time, skill or patience to offer what I need, I realize that I must learn to hold space for myself.
Yes, that will allow me to better hold space for others, but more importantly, it will allow me to be “radical” and take care of myself for no other reason but doing what I need to do for my own inner peace.
This will be difficult to do but as a true Aquarius, I like a challenge and I will not stop until I master this skill.
Until then, I’m going to enjoy the “Space Holders” that I do have, work with my family to understand my needs and focus on building my individual capacity to be “radical” and hold space for my damn self [p.s. Sorry for the language, Grammy].