NOTE: In this post, I’m going to talk about therapy and my personal experience. I share these thoughts today with this caveat and also to remind you this is my perspective, and in no way do I have all of the answers. We can think differently and still share pieces of our humanity. But it might help someone out there. And it might help me.
I realize this photo looks like it’s just me, sitting across from you, savoring a fine cup of Columbian crystals, preparing to have a warm little chat about life.
But if you look a bit closer, you might just miss a human being on this same wild ride as you… the COVID-19 swing is what I’m calling it. But let’s lay out some of the groundwork first, okay?
- Me and my family are presently healthy and doing our part to the best of our ability to flatten the curve in the great state of Minnesota. We are
stucksafe at home. We are limiting our trips to the grocery store to just one a week for me and one a week for Dan, so we can both share in the hunting and gathering, so to speak.
- Three out of four of us still have jobs this month. Cole has an excuse as a college sophomore, and Dan actually has more job security than either Aidan or myself, as he’s now a tenured elementary school teacher. In other words, we have income coming in and it is not lost on me for a minute how many people out there presently do not.
- We are managing the space in this house to the best of our abilities. Since Cole came home from college (and honestly? I don’t even remember what day that was now), we’ve been successfully managing the shared spaces for work and school. It’s good to have space when you need to be away from other humans, even in your own home.
Those things notwithstanding, this COVID-19 pandemic is still not an easy event to manage. It’s just not.
I spoke with my therapist last week. You may or may not know this, but I’ve done therapy socially-distant style since Day 1. She lives in Southern California. Me and my husband have always spoken to her—separately, mind you—on the phone. After a decade of working with her, we’re pros at it. (Pros at talking on the phone, not necessarily at personal development.)
She told me last week that based on what I was telling her, it seemed that I’d regressed in my personal development. She said it wasn’t surprising, as she was seeing this across the board with her clients.
Yeah, like I need a therapist to tell me that. Ba dum bum!
One of the things she has talked to me about for a really long time is human beings’ inability to take in what she calls the brutal facts of life. Things like: We are born. We have a life span. We do not know how long that life span will be. We are fragile. Safety and security are illusions.
Now before you click away and say, “WELL, THAT’S JUST DEPRESSING! HARD PASS, FELICIA!” I’ll tell you why I’m telling you this.
She has been telling me this for years to get me to connect with reality. What does life really offer to humans? If you are checked out of reality, you do all manner of destructive things to maintain the ability to feel good and feel in control. Humans like to feel good and feel in control. But life is completely out of control. And for some of us, that’s another brutal fact that is really hard to take in.
For me personally, it has been damned near impossible at times.
So for years, I’ve poked around in my personal development and yes, I’ve made some progress. I’ve learned some things about why I am the way I am. And I’ve grown in places that have benefitted me and everyone around me. But I still have a lot of shit to figure out. Apparently there is no end to the work. I learn and grow by degrees. Or I unlearn and regress by degrees. It really depends on the day and my attitude on that day.
The brutal facts of life, for me, have often seemed theoretical. I have looked at them and thought about them and what my response could be to them, but they have always seemed to be more of an idea and less of a tangible experience.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the brutal facts of life into the experiential—into that tangible—and it’s really messing with a lot of people right now, myself included.
Our ideas about safety and security are being challenged in a very real way.
And so, there have been swings.
Some days I’m up and I am BEYOND grateful for my health, my family and my work. Work takes me out of my head and puts me into a space where I can focus solely on the tasks at hand.
When I wake up early, say 4 a.m. or so, and my mind starts to race, I just get up, make coffee and just start to work. It’s the only way I know how to keep anxiety in check and feel like I have a clear purpose for the day.
Some days I feel incredibly lonely, and that’s really strange to say as a card carrying introvert who really does not require a lot of social interaction to feel full on any given day. The loneliness comes from realizing how alone you can feel in your response to what is happening. Not every family member experiences stress in the same way. We all have ways of processing and they rarely, if ever, line up in perfect symmetry.
All days I avoid the televised news. I had to stop watching a few weeks ago and now I stick with local and national public news outlets that I read online. I limit myself to what I need to know daily, maybe 30 minutes in the morning, and move on.
And the reality is that also on all days, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. Or even in the next minute. And that means there are some days when that will feel overwhelming and I need to work really hard at staying in the present and remembering I can only influence how I respond.
That, and work on cultivating a positive attitude.
I’m beyond grateful for my two socially-distanced best friends to whom I speak with nearly every day. They let me get my shit out so I can keep my shit together for my family. I’m grateful and honored that I can offer a safe ear for them, as well.
I do believe in the whole “this too shall pass” idea, but it’s more like “this too shall pass, but you have no freaking clue as to when.”
But really, that’s just life.
That’s what I have today. It’s only my perspective, of course, and I just want you to know that swings are okay and unavoidable, even for people who seem like they have their shit together.
Love to you all.