Lately, in my regular rotation of podcasts, on phone calls with family and friends, or in my own reflections, the feeling of unsteady ground underneath our feet is continuously repeated.
When asked, “How are you doing?” the answer is always some version of “as well as I can be.” Many things that we used to anchor our safety and security to are gone. And the initial strategy of waiting it out is simply inadequate. Like a child holding their breath to get their way, it just can’t last. As I needed to make peace with the fact that the ground is and will be about as steady as quicksand, I searched for a metaphor to get me through the tough times. Can you lean into anxiety and fear, can we create a place of rest and centered-ness with nothing but air beneath our feet?
From this yearning, it came to me. In my mind’s eye, I stepped off firm ground and onto a flying carpet. At first, this sense of insecurity was only scarier. Could the air carry me? Would a buffet of wind unbalance me and throw me off? But no. In my visualization, I found the air could carry me if I kept my own physical center still.
This really helped me when anxiety built because it pushed me to re-center, take a breath, still my mind. I could be okay, even with just air to hold me, with no certainty around. I see others doing this, too – finding ways to lean into the current state, making some peace with it, and discovering new ways of being.
As always, the youth at Nexus Family Healing give us inspiration as their worlds have often been this way. They know how to navigate the path of coming apart and coming back together again in a new reality with no certainty about what the future might look like.
At Nexus-Woodbourne Family Healing, the Medical Director held a Zoom group meeting with all the residential treatment units to educate and answer questions in the beginning of our COVID adventure. We anticipated the youths’ questions and anxieties would be the same as the staff: what are the risks; what might happen if they get it; how safe are they? After sitting politely through the education piece of the group, their questions were all about finding their place on the flying carpet: when can we see our families again in person; when can we play sports with the other units again? The youth knew that their connections to others is where they find a centered place in the middle of uncertainty and were urging us adults to help them get it wherever we could.
So, as we move to creating re-open plans and states’ situations evolve, we are finding new ways to bring in the human connection, helping our youth – and ourselves – find safety and security. We can do this. We can ride this carpet. When we feel ourselves tipping off one way or the other, we must breathe, find our center, and let others pull us back. It turns out the air beneath us can be enough.
This blog article was contributed by Margaret Vimont, Vice President of Strategy and Service Development for Nexus Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.