Hi there. How you holding up? So here we are … according to my math we are in week six of our “lockdown”, surreal new life, social distancing, pandemic…. What is this anyway?
Like all of us, me too, I go a bit stir crazy from time to time. I have woken up with anxiety. I have found myself weeping at the new reality, grieving the collective loss, collective change, the loss of a way of being in the world… because what keeps coming back to me in some message or another is that nothing will ever go back to how it was.
I count myself among the fortunate, privileged, really lucky, that I am not really suffering that much. Actually, it’s not about how much suffering, I don’t want to qualify suffering. Despite what I write in the paragraph above, I have a fine home, plenty of food, and am working (certainly harder than ever), and so I can stay holed up at home and not have to worry about any kind of security. This is an enormous privilege. I am deeply grateful. And I also suffer.
I wanted to talk a bit about what we’re all going through and what’s presenting at work.
I have had too many clients now berating themselves for a lack of motivation. People are chastising themselves for not parenting well, for not doing enough, for not being better. People are saying in almost a shameful tone how exhausted they are, how they feel like zombies, have trouble focusing, just can’t get things done. Some “complain” of just sitting and staring. Some are actively anxious. Some are so anxious they can’t study or work effectively and talk about it as if there is something fundamentally flawed with themselves. We are irritable, have outbursts, withdraw, find ourselves lonely. The introverts among us are cooped up with family and not getting a break, and the extroverts among us long to touch our friends and be in a group. I’m sure there’s more. We worry about our future. We wonder about the virus .. where, how, when… there are no clear pictures about anything.
The good news about what I just wrote, is that it comes and goes. It ebbs and flows. When we succeed at being in the moment for a moment, we get some relief. When we connect with our loved ones via whatever platform, we feel better for a moment. We can share a laugh. When we go for a walk in nature and recognize plants growing or birds singing we are lifted out of the greater story for a moment and feel a bit of relief. If we get lost in a good book, if we are focused on an exercise class, if we get lost in a craft, in cooking, in talking to a friend .. all these tiny moments add up to some relief.
It’s not realistic to not feel anything at all during this crisis. And believe me this is a crisis of mass proportion the likes none of us have ever seen. So when we say to ourselves “I should be….” .. on whose authority would anyone know what the hell we should be doing, feeling, thinking… this is new. We are all, I am absolutely sure, bringing the best of ourselves to every day of this thing. And if that looks like we are anxious one day, well that’s the best I can bring today and that has to be ok.
What’s missing is compassion for ourselves. Kindness toward ourselves. Care toward ourselves. Be kind. Recognize ALL OF US are struggling in some way, shape, or form to get through this thing. No one’s getting away without a struggle. If you think you’re the only one feeling exhausted, sluggish, unmotivated, weepy, anxious…. You are not. So be kind to yourself. Give yourself a hug, give yourself a break, give yourself a pat on the back for getting to now.
And wash your hands.