Life has changed for all of us to the extent that at times, anything before 2020 seems like a dream. I catch myself being surprised watching a movie or show where people aren’t wearing masks. These last eighteen months of pain and discomfort have changed us forever, whether by direct interaction with the pandemic and it’s repercussions, or by indirectly being affected.
My life this year has had certain struggles that I never would have expected, and pain and frustration have been frequent visitors in our household. Would it have been in another period of my life and a different time in the world, I think that I would have pushed myself to get over it. I would have said that what happened, happened, and life goes on. However, now that we all hurt together, even if it is for different reasons, and also having increasing responsibility in my life, I remain much calmer in time of distress.
First, I try to gain perspective. How big is the issue I am facing? Is it stemming out of a preference? Have I taken time to understand what is going on and communicate my position? Lifting my head from where I stand to see beyond my nose has definitely changed my mood to not being one so condemning or dangerously sulky.
Second, I do what I can. I have spoken before how a routine and a timer have supported me through draining times. When I need to get things done, I try to understand how I truly feel to determine how much I can expect of myself. Some days I can get through my whole list, and other days it’s just the bare minimum that occurs. The errands and chores are done when I am actually in a lighter mood. I might still not want to do it but I quickly analyze my schedule and goals, keeping in mind that it is okay to only invest a small amount of time, and that usually gives me the energy to move forward. Doing this again and again makes the chores feel more automated thus requiring less energy.
Finally, I let myself go when needed. In the past, shopping and food have been soothing mechanisms. Today I have a better relationship with food and money, so those don’t appeal to me as much. Watching a show helps, and even a bit of ice cream and window shopping still makes me feel a little better. It’s okay because since I have recognized those patterns, it has become easier to understand what I am really trying to do and take them not as a way to erase my mind but to help cope with the negative feelings. Even after getting the sweets or adding an item to my shopping cart, I don’t always go through with it.
It is okay to not be okay. It is okay to have uncomfortable and/or painful feelings. It is also normal to not want to have them. We still have to get through them to be free. Certain things can help you handle them better, but you should be doing the handling at all times. People, actions, or substances will not change reality; they will only serve as distractions and at times be dangerous ones. Care for yourself and have some grace to help yourself heal.