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My Denial Is Showing

(why i refuse to call this the new normal)

Like so many of us, if I hear the words corona virus or covid 19 one more time I may lose what remaining sanity I have left. We are, according to nearly every television or print ad I’ve seen or heard, adjusting to the new normal.

I am not. Nope. Not gonna do it. 

I choose to refer to this time period as the temporary abnormal. And isn’t that a more accurate depiction of this world now shockingly devoid of human touch? Of shared energy, and a heightened awareness of the fragility and uncertainty of and in our lives? 

This time has been in some ways a gift and in others a forced exercise in an essential renegotiation of my relationship with my self. Because what I know from my life, my training and mostly from mistakes and what I’ve learned from life is that in the end, as the song lyrics go, “we are how we treat each other and nothing more.” And so it follows, that when I place my head upon my pillow at night, it is how I treat others that directly influences how I feel about myself. And how I treat my “self” that influences how I treat others. Ah, the reciprocity of relationships and the circuitous relational patterns that at times can be so difficult to interrupt. 

We are in what I’ll call a crucible for the relationships in our lives – that within and to the self, and with others. A veritable hotbed for the intensification of thought life and relational patterns. There are days when my observing mind just falls flat – I cannot or perhaps will not see myself.  No stranger to denial ( Melody Beattie calls denial a buffer for the soul) it has left me feeling as though the rug has been pulled out from underneath me on more than one occasion. 

And while self examination in the time of the aforementioned dirty words ( CV, C19) might make sheltering in place even more challenging, there’s no better time to stop, breathe and take stock. 

What I’ve learned is that all roads lead to – well, these days, probably the kitchen or the living room but you get my drift. 

I’ve inhaled and exhaled more intentionally during this temporary abnormal than at any other time in my life. I have comforted and been comforted. I have NEVER in my life realized the importance of relationships more than right now, and the longing for connection. 

A friend of mine just sent me a loving, brave text. Calling me out on a few things. The reason I love her so much is that she will go out on a limb and send these psychic nudges, reminding me that so much of what I’ve been searching for is what I’ve mostly been running from – me. 

Maybe 20 years ago that would have been a little easier to digest. 

The esteemed and remarkable Buddhist nun Pema Chodren says it quite simply: start where you are.  And then keep going. I’m pretty sure the key word here is start. Sometimes, over and over again, even on the same day.

With so many facing so much, it’s never been more critical to do just that: start where you are, wherever you are…and try to do it without judgement. Give yourself and those around you a big fat break. And remember…this is the temporary abnormal. 

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