Waking up to the realization of another 30 days in self-quarantine sucks. Another 30 days of social distancing and isolation. And now, a new, 30-day shelter-in-place executive order from our governor. How the hell am I supposed to get through this?
There are countless memes flying around the internet that help us make light of this crazy situation. One, in particular, says, “Hey Introverts! Check on your extrovert friends. They are not okay.”. Wow, have truer words never been more applicable!
Last week was tough enough. I really was struggling to accept this new normal, and that’s when I naively believed we were nearing the end of the restrictive guidelines placed on us by the President and CDC. But now, another 30 days… likely longer if I’m being realistic.
I hate this virus. I hate it so much I don’t even want to name it. It’s caused suffering, deeper than we have yet to comprehend.
ALL THE GOODNESS
Generally speaking, I’m a positive person, grounded in my faith with a cheery almost rose-colored outlook on life. During this virus I’ve made a point to surround myself with goodness: feel-good stories on the news, inspirational stories on social media, uplifting, faithful songs on the radio and encouraging words on podcasts.
But here’s the thing. Yes, there are amazing stories of compassion and generosity out there. Yes, the increased time spent with family over dinners, board games and bonfires has been wonderful. I have been blown away at the global unity demonstrated on the nightly news. I do believe God is still in control, and if we lean into Him through this crisis, our faith will be stronger and we’ll be filled with more hope.
So why don’t I feel good? Why am I not okay right now?
THE PIT IN MY STOMACH
There are 3 ways most people deal with particularly difficult emotions:
1. Bury Them
Sometimes we choose to bury our difficult, uncomfortable, and painful feelings. Perhaps we were taught it’s not cool to cry in front of others, or that displays of anger are irrational, or that no one wants to be around someone who is sad all the time. So, we stuff our feelings deep in the pit of our stomachs. While this may work temporarily, like a mini-ticking volcano, an eruption of great magnitude is sure to occur at the least opportune time. Probably not the best strategy.
2. Fake Them
Just “fake it till you make it”. You know, do the polite, comfortable, socially acceptable response in dealing with your feelings. We opt to plaster a fake smile on our faces while enthusiastically proclaiming to the world, “I’m fine” when in reality, we are really anything but. We use this tactic to try and convince ourselves of this falsehood, as well as our family and friends.
3. Embrace Them
In the absence of physical touch from family and close friends, our feelings are something we can embrace. This can be hard because it requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves and how we are feeling.
Right now, I feel sad and angry and lost, and alone, and scared, and stuck, and full of despair. I don’t feel like myself. I don’t feel okay, about any of this.
And it’s okay to not be okay.
But let’s acknowledge, that those are some pretty lonely places to reside. And while not only is it important, but healthy, to let yourself feel every emotion this situation stirs up, it is not okay to dwell there.
OUR BODIES AREN’T THE ONLY THING THAT NEED MOTION
I read an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review found HERE, that reminded me ‘emotions need motion’. We need to allow our anger, sadness, grief, and sorrow to enter our bodies fully, move through them, and exit.
I am most at peace when sitting at a beach with my toes dug in the warm sand and the sound of seagulls squawking overhead. The roar of waves as they powerfully crash onto the shore is representative of how I feel on any given day lately. I could be sitting at my desk, talking to a friend, or making dinner when a sudden wave of emotion starts in the pit of my stomach climbs its way into my chest, through my heart and lungs, until it finally escapes by seeping through tear ducts. A faint taste of saltwater lingers around my lips.
We are all going through some crazy shit right now. Some days are definitely easier than others. I will continue to surround myself with positive, inspiring stories, listen to uplifting worship music and laugh at way inappropriate memes. I will pray more, read more, start a hobby, watch a movie, go for a run, go for a walk, zoom with my friends, and spend even more time with my family.
But today is hard. And if it is for you too, you’re not alone.