The Dirt Logo - Art, Food, Music, Culture, Events
mental health
The Dirt

The Dirt

The Liminal Space

By: Emma Shandy Anway, MS LMFT

This is a funny time of year in Yolo County. We’ve got daffodils sprouting up and cherry blossoms blooming, while still experiencing morning temps that require both gloves and winter coats on the bike ride to school. Not quite spring, but no longer in the depths of winter.

This season is a literal representation of liminal space—a time of in-between.

This in-between time doesn’t just happen in nature, we regularly pass through many of these liminal spaces in different seasons of our lives. When we find ourselves in our own experiences of liminality—the time between what was and what’s next—it’s easy to become agitated and restless. We are so eager to hurry up to what may be on the horizon that it becomes difficult to stay in the present.

Brene Brown, arguably the world’s leading expert on concepts such as shame and vulnerability, has her own term for the concept of liminal space, calling it “day 2”. “Day 2 is when you’re ‘in the dark’—the door has closed behind you,” Brown said. “You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.”

During this time, it’s not uncommon for experiences of anxiety and depression to spike. Feelings of hopelessness, despair and overwhelm, too. If you are reading all of this and nodding your head, you are not alone.

It could be that you are a senior in college, having completed so much work and yet not quite to graduation month, a professor, this close to tenure but still slightly out of reach, or an expectant parent, through the intensity of the first trimester but still not at the birth of your baby.

As a parent myself, I am constantly moving in and out of liminal spaces. One day I was crying at 2 a.m. holding my newborn wondering if I’d ever sleep again, and now I am finding myself waving goodbye to him as he happily walks into nursery school (after a full night’s sleep!).

As life carries on we can rely on the fact that it will come with chapters of liminality, and ensuring you have the right support during this time makes all the difference.

I made it through that specific “day 2” of sleeplessness and overwhelm with the support of good friends, weekly meetings with my therapist, and finding tiny moments throughout the day to pause, and take a few deep, regulating breaths.

If you find yourself in this middle space, there are many things you can try to alleviate the dissonance. Connect with people navigating the same situation as you, try cultivating a mindfulness practice through an app at home or a yoga class in town, work with a therapist, or find a nourishing way to move your body. Anything that grounds you or connects you with others will help you put one foot in front of the other as you walk toward spring.

5 Simple Ways to Ground Yourself
  1. Take a walk with a friend.
  2. Write a gratitude list.
  3. Get off social media for a day.
  4. Listen to a podcast that makes you laugh.
  5. Draw a picture.

More to explore

Scroll to Top