by Iyanla Vanzant
From Chapter One
She was not looking for him. He was not looking for her. As a matter of fact, they
were both somewhat attached to other people. Yet, the minute they saw each other,
their body parts began to twitch, and their eyes began to sparkle. The meantime was
brewing. They worked their way across the room, neither aware that the other was doing the
same thing. He spoke first. No, she did. She asked him a silly question to which he
and his twitching body parts were more than willing to respond. He ducked his attachment.
She ducked hers. They needed some time to talk. They did, and they laughed, something
neither of them seemed to do very often with their attachments. They exchanged
telephone numbers to their places of employment. Although they both knew, they both acted
like they didn't. Reluctantly, they both rejoined their attachments, and together
they entered a simmering pot of meantime stew.
When you are not happy where you are and you are not quite sure if you want to leave or
how to leave, you are in the meantime. It's a state of limbo. You are hanging on, ready to
let go, afraid to fall, not wanting to hurt yourself, afraid you will hurt someone else.
In the meantime, you pray the other person will let go first so that you will not feel
The other person keeps dropping hints, letting you know that it's time to go. You deny
it! Why? You don't know why, but I can tell you that the meantime is fraught with don't
knows and can't do's. Don't know why I can't go. Don't know why I should stay. Don't
know where I'm going. Don't know how I am going to get there, wherever there is.
Ambivalence, confusion, reluctance, and paralysis are all characteristics of the meantime.
If you knew the answers to these questions you would be just fine. In the meantime, you
are many things, fine is probably not one of them!
Life would be so much easier if, when we hit a snag in a relationship, any
relationship, we would stop, address it, and move ahead smoothly. The truth is, in most
cases, we could do just that. The reality is, we don't do it! We keep moving. We allow
little insults to become raging angers, little arguments to become festering feuds, little
pains to become deep wounds, and we keep moving. In many cases, we keep hurting. When the
relationship at issue is an intimate, loving one, the attempt to move forward without
addressing the pain only complicates matters, further poisoning the relationship.
How can I stay and not get hurt? How can I go without hurting? You cannot answer these
questions if you are in pain. What you can do is make the effort to discover the truth
about love, because it is the only thing that can help you move through the experience. In
the meantime, if we can remain loving of ourselves and toward other people by staying in
conscious and honest communication, a disruption, snag, or delay in a relationship becomes
a healing process. When we cannot, we engage in meantime behaviorhurting,
fighting, not telling the truth, and moving forward in confusion. Confusion begets
Back to our meantime lovers. Two weeks later, she called him at work. He had already
called her twice, but hung up when her voice mail answered. In the meantime, they
each tried to convince themselves that they should not call each other again, but they
desperately needed to see each other. He invited her out for a drink. She set the date,
time, and place. He showed up with a rose, a single pink rose. The minute she saw it and
him, the twitching body parts began to thump. Her attachment became a blur, and she didn't
know what to do. He did. He said all the right things, in just the right tone of voice, at
the right moment, which created a corresponding thumping in his corresponding body parts.
She told him about her attachment. He told her about his. Well, not exactly. Although
there was someone, his someone knew what the deal was. That's when she realized she
was headed for trouble. Quickly, she made her excuses and took her thumping body parts
home. In the meantime, he had two more drinks and tried to figure out what he was going to
do and how he was going to do it.
Let's talk about love in the meantime.
Life is all about love. Love is the only true meaning of life. Being alive means that we
are occupants in love's house and are accountable to love's rules. Neither life nor love
requires us to give up our dignity, self-worth, career objectives, favorite television
program, or our good common sense. For some reason, we don't always understand this. We
believe in the necessity of giving up one thing in order to get something else. We
especially believe this about love. We do not understand that the highest expression of
love is the experience and realization of moremore of who you are, what you do, what
you believe, and what you have. Love has the ability to bring all of you together under
one roof, at one time, as one experience. Love is the experience of oneness, a union of
the mind and heart. Unfortunately, we believe we can establish this union with others only
if we give up something. We attempt to create this union with others before first creating
it within ourselves. This is absolutely impossible. You cannot get love from the
outside until you arelove on the inside. In the meantime, we do many things in the
name of love, for the sake of love.
We live in the meantime while we are learning about love. We flounder around,
involving ourselves in strange alliances, making up rules as we go along, in the name of
what we think love is, or should be. We watch and listen to others, believing they know
all there is to know about love and relationships. The truth is that they, like the rest
of us, are learning by trial and error. At best, we pick and choose who to love and how we
will love them. At worst, we discover that it is virtually impossible to do enough, fast
enough, for enough people, in enough situations to receive from them the love, admiration,
or acceptance we seem to need. In the meantime, while we are learning the truth about
love, we can make a pretty big mess of most things. Nowhere do we make a bigger mess
than in our so-called loving relationships.
They were at it again! He and she both knew that they needed to make a swift but loving
departure from the relationships they were in. Neither of them had the courage, strength,
or presence of mind to do so. He didn't leave because his attachment had been so good to
him. In the three-plus years they had been together, they had really been through a
lota lot of hysteria about whether or not they should stay together! In the end,
they stayed together because they had nowhere else to go. She stayed with her attachment
to avoid facing the fear of spending time alone. She had been there and done that so many
times before. It was not a very pleasant possibility to look forward to, and she surely
did not want to subject herself to it voluntarily. In the meantime, she kept hoping
against hope that somehow, some way, her attachment would miraculously disappear or become
the love man of her dreams, meaning that she would live happily ever after. That's how she
convinced herself, time and time again, to stay. In the meantime, she kept looking
elsewhere for something else, although she was not quite sure what it was she was looking
Love is the only thing we need. Love is our peace. Love is our joy, health, and wealth.
Love is our identity. We go into a relationship looking for love, not realizing that we
must bring love with us. We must bring a strong sense of self and purpose into a
relationship. We must bring a sense of value, of who we are. We must bring an excitement
about ourselves, our lives, and the vision we have for these two essential elements. We
must bring a respect for wealth and abundance. Having achieved it to some satisfactory
degree on our own, we must move into relationships willing to share what we have,
rather than being afraid of someone taking it. Joyful sharing and excitement. Value,
purpose, and vision. That's what love is about. When we bring these things to the
relationship, love becomes a great multiplier and enhances the experience of life. When we
do not have these things in place, the search to find love sets up the experiences we need
to discover what is true about love and what is not. The discovery process is called the meantime.
We enter relationships looking for love, expecting someone to love us or accept us
lovingly. This makes perfectly good sense if you consider that we are each born to express
and receive love. In some unfortunate situations, we can want love or acceptance so badly
that we will do almost anything to get it. We break love's rules. We disregard love's
house. We forget to set love boundaries. We allow people to step in, be in, move in, live
in our lives in ways that have nothing to do with love. Even when we have boundaries or
standards clearly defining what we will do, how we will do it in the name of love, and
what we expect in return, there never seems to be enough love to fill the void we have
all, at one time or another, felt in our hearts. When we believe we do not have enough
love in our lives, we enter the meantime. What we fail to understand is that we are
the love we seek. Until, however, we can recognize ourselves as love and live in harmony
with our true identity, the void grows deeper, wider, and more painful.
They just didn't get it! He called several times during the next several weeks. At
first, she refused to return his calls. She was struggling to shake and break her
attachment. He had already shaken his, although he had forgotten to tell her that she had
been shook! "Surely she knows!" he thought. "She has to
know!" In the meantime, people often forget to say what they mean or mean what
they say because they assume you already know. He did not assume that he would pass her on
the street, but he did. The moment they saw each other, the thumping startedhis
mind, her heart, and their body parts. They spoke. Actually, she spoke first. He responded
by talking to her about the calls. Feeling guilty, as we often do in the meantime, she
agreed to call him later. She did, and they agreed to meet.
When you're in the meantime you want an escape route! You want something to do other
than all that meantime stuff. They wanted to do something about their thumping body parts.
They wanted to be attached to one another. They thought it was love. It had to be love!
Why else would it keep showing up, thumping and giving them the perfect excuse to break
all other attachments. The meantime is not about breaking up attachments. It is about
creating attachments honestly and lovingly. However, in the meantime, the thumping body
parts are completely unaware of this little tidbit of information. He made the offer. She
accepted. On opposite sides of town, both of their other attachments were fed up with
excuses and ready to do another kind of thumping of body parts!
Copyright © 1998 by Iyanla Vanzant