This week has been intense and overwhelming for pretty much every person on the planet. The collective grief of this whole situation is impossible to fully grasp. Reading the HBR article about naming our grief has helped me more than anything else I’ve read or heard.
The quotes below from the article resonated with me in a big way:
There is something powerful about naming this as grief. It helps us feel what’s inside of us. So many have told me in the past week, “I’m telling my coworkers I’m having a hard time,” or “I cried last night.” When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion. It’s important we acknowledge what we go through. One unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement is we’re the first generation to have feelings about our feelings. We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not victims.
Instead of pushing our feelings down, it’s important to feel them so that we can move on. Since reading that, I’ve really let myself cry when I need to cry, and then I pull it together and take care of whatever I need to take care of. Instead of pushing it down and trying to “stay strong,” feeling that feeling in the moment allows me to feel lighter for the rest of the day.
Another quote that shifted my mindset was this:
This is a temporary state. It helps to say it. The precautions we’re taking are the right ones. History tells us that. This is survivable. We will survive. This is a time to overprotect but not overreact.
No matter what, we’re stuck at home for the near future. The open-endedness of that is really overwhelming, but over the last few days I’ve decided to turn around the attitude in our house because we don’t have a choice. When I start to panic about how long this is going to last, I remind myself that this is a temporary state. Although I don’t know the end date, I know there is an end date.
You can also think about how to let go of what you can’t control. What your neighbor is doing is out of your control. What is in your control is staying six feet away from them and washing your hands. Focus on that.
We have to be quarantined right now. The only thing we can control is how we act and how we feel while we’re home. I can’t control anything going on in the world out there right now. But I can control what happens between these four walls… to a certain extent, anyway.
We can choose to make the most of a shitty situation, or we can choose to wallow in it. To resist it. I’m choosing the former. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days when I feel like garbage. Heck, I cry most days. But it’s what I do in between the tears that matters. What I do in between the tears is what will make my family feel secure and happy.
It’s easy to push back against this new normal and resist it in every way possible, but accepting it and focusing on making it the best possible scenario for yourself and anyone else you’re quarantined with is where the power lies.
My focus is on making our new normal a happy place.
What has really helped us this week is creating new daily traditions and schedules. Anel sees virtual clients every morning while I hang out with Amalia. We come together to eat lunch and then he takes over while I work at my computer in the afternoons. At 5:00 pm, I stop working and we all play soccer (or basketball, as Amalia calls it) in the driveway before dinner. Bootsie runs around as we kick the ball between us. Amalia loves it and is actually getting pretty good! It’s quickly become our favorite part of the day, and we all come back inside feeling refreshed and giddy.
Here are a few more of the daily traditions we’ve adapted:
– Every morning after breakfast, we get dressed and “go to school” in the living room. Amalia (the “mommy”) puts on her backpack, packs a pretend lunch and brings me (her kid) to school to see my friends.
– After pretend school, we do little lessons in letters and colors and shapes. If she doesn’t feel like doing it, I don’t push it, but she usually loves it.
– After lunch, she gets to watch an hour of TV. If she doesn’t listen or misbehaves in the morning, we cut that out. While we were all sick, she was glued to a screen and has since turned into a monster obsessing over it so we knew we had to nip that in the bud. We’re not super strict on the screen time right now because we have to get work done, but we try to keep it to about an hour give or take. Some days it’s a lot more though, and that’s ok.
– We cook dinner together as a family! Before all this, we never did that because things were always rushed, but now it feels like a great way to kill time and Amalia gets to see where her meals come from. She loves cooking and Anel has gotten really into it too.
– Before bed, Amalia and Anel play a game called “smooch town” where he tickles her with kisses and she laughs hysterically. I usually clean up the kitchen while they get this sweet bonding moment.
– After Amalia goes to bed, Anel and I have a glass of wine or cup of tea and connect about work, how we’re feeling, and what we can do to stay positive. These chats are lifesavers. Even though we’re all together in the same house all day, we’re not really connecting so this is a really important part of our day.
– I try to schedule Zoom calls with groups of friends or Facetime with one friend every two nights. I need and crave that social interaction and it helps to talk to the people I love and laugh with them.
These traditions are keeping us going. Keeping us on track to some extent. And as we stay home for longer and longer, they’ll evolve and change into what we need them to change into. But the most important thing we can do is accept that this is our life for now… and make the best of it.
I want to send you into the weekend with love and light from my family to yours. Stay safe. Stay home. Feel what you need to feel. And try to have some fun.
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