There’s a lot of “holding” going on right now.
We’re putting our usual lives on hold. We’re holding on tight, bracing, with uncertainty all around as we tune in to all the jumbled, uneasy feelings inside, yet move on within a haze of the “new normal” day. We’re holding it together on a regular basis around startling statistics and news conferences, grocery delivery, masks, homeschooling, and zoom calls with children crying and dogs barking in the background. Staying at home offers lots of possibilities for family dynamics to go awry. And, we don’t know what the future holds.
These experiences elicit an unsteady state to conquer. Our natural neurobiological wiring has adaptive patterns to provocation. Lights flashing, sirens blaring in the backgrounds of brains indicate “red alert” “red alert” “red alert.” Truly, at this time of uncertainty, the wiring may be directing responses to “RUN!” or “FIGHT!” or giving up and retreating, to “HIDE!” We saw those running frantically to get toilet paper or fighting and protesting, and literally, without much choice, we were hidden in our homes. Our nervous systems currently are in the prime place for an underlying perpetual red alert state. The collective stress is palpable, yet we have the capacity to work through these states.
In many ways, “holding” conveys a settled feeling. Holding is a word that, in and of itself, offers a sense of containment, a designated place, warmth and security. We need to raise our awareness in order to mitigate uncertainty and find that sense of security, in ourselves for those we love.
“Holding” is calm mixed with courage. We strive to embody “holding” inwardly and display “holding” outwardly for our families. Holding is the much-needed mindful presence and availability to each other in the time of distress. It’s the quiet time spent sharing around the difficult experiences or lending an ear to listen when it’s needed most. It’s the gentle nod of affirmation or soft gaze during an emotional upset. We reflect together. “Holding” offers safety in the face of danger. We hold our own brave notions as we make it through to the end of a very tough day. Holding offers warmth and availability to permeate through our relationships to those we love. We’re holding people in thought and prayer. We can’t see them, but they are recollected fondly in our minds. For those near, we hold hands and we hold each other close.
My “holding” is represented, in my mind, by a lending hand, walking beside you. At others, two full arms embracing. Sometimes I am simply holding my arms out—outstretched, ready for the catch. If you stumble, “I’ve got your back.” If you fall, “I’m here.”
Through it all, I lovingly hold my family at home and I’m holding you right now from afar as we move into a new phase.
With sincere appreciation to those who have influenced my understanding of these concepts in my life-work as an OT: Directly, my mentor Ruby Salazar LCSW, BCD. From afar, Serena Wieder, PhD., co-founder of the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Model, Mona Delahooke, PhD. and numerous DIR Profectum™ Faculty.
I’d be amiss if I did not mention the work of Stephen Porges, PhD and Dan Siegel, MD who conceptualize the neurological underpinnings of relationships and give the foundations for sensory processing to inform my work as an OT.
Author: Stacy Sue Rosello, MA, OTR/L
Founder, Embrace the Child, ® Ltd.
Editor: Grace Rosello
Photo: Courtesy Kate E. Rosello
Copyright © 2020 Stacy Sue Rosello