Any “first” can create a feeling of anxiety and fear, first date, first job, first time to publish a story, first day at college, etc. and usually we have some past experience we can draw on to ease those nerves and push through. In this case, we have no frame of reference and those we are turning to create more anxiety than calm.
Let’s face it, none of us have done “pandemic” before.
For many, if not most, individuals, companies and even governments COVID-19 has placed us in react mode and its impact is playing havoc on our coping mechanism.
Right now relationships are being put to the test because there are no outside distractions such as work, hobbies, sports, visits with friends etc to give us a sense of balance and the ever-increasing challenges we are placing on our partners to meet our emotional needs are, in some cases, both unrealistic and unfair. Remember, no one person can provide everything that we need in our lives on a constant and consistent basis let alone when we are in a stress-based day by day structure.
It is likely your inner child is feeling needy, feeling abandoned and basically, freaking the hell out and most likely meeting your partner’s inner child who is equally as scared, freaked out and feeling abandoned. It is a perfect storm that may result in resentment, annoyance, blame, feelings of not good enough, abandoned and uncared for.
If you are in a relationship and at home in quarantine, which many of us are, I invite you to be cognizant of the unusual framework from which your relationship is operating under right now. Let’s give each other a break and have fair expectations of one another. Be kind. It will definitely decrease resentment if we are kinder with our thoughts and hold ourselves accountable for our wellbeing.
Bear in mind “no child should be left unattended” and that includes our inner child, a lot of us have inner children who are scrambling for support and are feeling A sense of despair. Find the adult within and give her/him/them the responsibility for your inner child, make an effort to self soothe. I am not saying, “don’t support your partner” but I am inviting you to do some of the work yourself. You may find some coping strategies in my previous post useful. You have got this.
Word of caution, when turning to your adult self for support pay heed it is not your critic you tap into! It is quite possible you have heard that critical voice recently telling you that you didn’t work out enough today, that you could have done more chores, that you shouldn’t be so worried, that staying home isn’t a time to relax and watch Meg Ryan movies (guilty as charged), you know the voice right?
Your critic will be on call at the drop of a hat because we are all on high alert and our inner voice is ready to tell us that we are not good enough, not handling this as well as we should and why the hell didn’t we pick up more toilet paper two weeks ago!
We don’t have any control of the situation and that contributes to our fear!
It’s human nature to strive to control the situation and it is this need to have some control that has caused the recent panic buying and hoarding. Buying two tons of pasta and rice and, hoarding as much loo roll as one can, may have provided a sense of control, but it was short-lived. This is a time when we must have faith in our ability to cope, and let go of our need to control the outcome, that is a tough one for many of us especially all those “fix it personalities” out there, right?
What we do have control over:
Self-compassion – let us be kinder to ourselves. It isn’t a failing in you that you have to be at home right now, that you don’t have employment. Be gentle with yourself, it is a fragile time, and although it doesn’t help our particular situation, it is important to remember you are not alone, everyone is in the same boat. Having self-compassion will ease the rough waters we are treading right now. Forgive yourself for feeling at a loss, for feeling out of control, for being afraid, for not being able to “fix” it and not being everything you need to be to everyone right now. It is not just okay to have these feelings, it is human, humans are messy and even more so in our first pandemic.
For many this has interrupted important life changes, perhaps you are going through an important transition or life stage that was difficult in of itself without the flux of COVID-19. Take the time you need to be kind with your thoughts, “normal” will resume soon, you can continue the path of your transition, in the meantime be patient and self-loving.
Self-acceptance – you are doing the best you can and you are doing great. Accept that the stress You are experiencing will impact your energy levels and you will feel lethargic, you will have a sense of fear but that is okay. Meet yourself wherever and however you show up on any given day. You are exactly as you are meant to be, no “shoulds” just self-acceptance. This too shall pass.
Self-care – take time to do something you enjoy. Pick up your guitar, write your journal, take a long bath, face time with your friends. Self-care comes in many forms, it may be that for you, self-care was going out to the mall and buying a new outfit, being in groups of friends, of course, this cannot be done right now. Take the time to develop new self-care routines, if you are not in quarantine go for a walk, if you are in quarantine do some gentle yoga, again, reference my coping strategies in my last post and do your best, it is all you can do.
Be Mindful – Be mindful of the small treasures in your day. Appreciate the value of warm water in your shower, of the sunshine that may be shining in your part of the world, of how a warm cup of tea can fill your chest as it passes your throat and give a sense of comfort to your body. The small things will become moments of wonder as we become more mindful of our blessings.
This will pass, nothing is permanent and this is temporary.
If you need to talk reach out, there are resources available and I, like many therapists right now, have a sliding scale and online service available to help make therapy more affordable and accessible.
Take good care of you, be gentle with others and yourself and remember, you’ve got this.