I don’t know about you, but my inbox is inundated with webinars, meditations, free talks & discounted courses on how to relax. It’s as if I am being told how anxious and fearful, how depressed and isolated I am, and my email has taken on a life of its own. Sort of like I gained 12 pounds, and someone felt compelled to tell me I gained weight even though my muffin top floweth over. Thanks, yeah, I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t see the giant pimple on my forehead, either. Did I mention edgy?
We are all out of sorts, so if you are too, that’s NORMAL. If you wake up and wonder how you are going to get through the day, yep, right now: normal. Worry, fear, insecurity, edginess? Normal, normal, normal…you get it.
It’s critical that we recognize in times of crisis that we are actually in a crisis and not judge or pathologize our feelings. I sometimes feel invaded by those “I’m just trying to be helpful” e-mail buggers. Like an overbearing worrisome mother, they imply that I am wanting skills with which to navigate all of this — and certainly, I am — but can’t I do that on my own time? I suppose knowing where to go for help and then actually bravely requesting it is what the problem for is for most folks, myself included. Myself especially? As a therapist, I tend to judge myself harshly at times for indulging in “childish” emotions and a negativity spawned by fear. We are all afraid. We are all brave. We are all afraid and brave and thank God not all at the same time. I am amazed right now by our leaders, their styles, their default modes revealed by a virus we cannot see but that surely reveals us all. Some disgust me, exploiting the virus for political gain, financial gain… and others I’d like to invite for dinner. I have a thing for New York Italians, just saying.
I was struggling in my personal life at the onset of this and told myself no way would this be an excuse to book a deluxe, no-expense paid extended stay in the rabbit hole (do rabbits carry corona?). I made and set the intent to meditate daily, eat well, stay on a schedule and remain emotionally and spiritually connected AT ALL COSTS. And guess what? That’s free. As it turns out, checking on a few people a day actually does brighten their day. And it leaves me more greatly refreshed than an online class on how to quell my negative thoughts.
If you are anxious right now, we are all anxious. If you are sad, we are all sad, grieving loved ones, friends, schools (who EVER thought kids would be sad about THAT?) weddings and — how awful — even funerals.
If we run from our feelings in an effort to avoid discomfort, we miss the point. Many will, in many ways. But it is in learning to sit through discomfort that we embrace wholeness. We experience tenderness. We learn patience, with ourselves and others. We emerge. We more honestly and gently care for one another. Because, and I know you already know this, it is in the act of reaching out and comforting others, in deeply connecting, that we fix ourselves. How ironic that in physical distancing we can learn so much about emotional and spiritual intimacy.
I have a friend who is running a literal homeschool with 4 kids, 2 dogs and a sports-deprived husband who might on any given day count for 2 people – the man withdrawing from hockey, and the man she married. In the midst of it, she remains witty, grounded and productive, sewing masks (really?) for hospitals facing a shortage. She inspires. Another, mastering virtual teaching skills while managing the emotions of her college senior, who is lamenting the loss of a well-earned senior spring semester and graduation. Add on a dog with chronic digestion issues and apparently very picky pallet. Throw in two more kids, a husband who now works at home AND the parents of her classroom kids who are all in need of hand-holding while THEY learn how to home school. Finding a moment to be heard, she called me en-route to an emergency clearance of her classroom, the school just now being closed for the remainder of the year. She apologized for being petty with her fears for her dog, given the state of the union. Nope. No apologizing. We love who and what we love, and we worry in ways we don’t get to judge. We are all everyday heroes, just showing up, doing the very best we can (sometimes in pajamas).
I watch, I listen, I learn. I am inspired. And I realize: I don’t want to be “fixed” right now. I am all right. I just want my old inbox.