As I write this on Good Friday I’m filled with so many conflicting emotions much like everyone else. I am confused but determined, content with my own situation but frustrated, prone to laughter from dark humor and on the verge of tears from touching notifications. In other words my mind is grabbing onto every little bit of encouragement that it can find but a little voice in my head is also warning me not to get too excited too soon. I’m more than ready to get back to the old routines but concerned that jumping back in right away will be dangerous.
I can tell from reading posts on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, editorials from various pundits, reports from news agencies that pretty much everyone is in the same state of mind as I am. We’re all trying to keep a smile on our faces while hoping that nobody notices the sorrow in our eyes. Everyone looks so tired of making the best of the situation and yet we all soldier on, each in our own way, and that is what keeps me feeling so hopeful.
We humans may be a bit battered right now, some worse than others, but we have a wonderful ability to pull ourselves together to do whatever we need to do in the moment. Still, we have to be careful that we don’t attempt to be superhuman. Everyone has a breaking point and it’s really alright to give into it now and again. Each of us may have a moment or several moments in which we meltdown without warning. We may see our children losing it and acting uncharacteristically bratty. That’s when it’s time to take a deep breath and find ways to get those toxic feelings out of our systems.
There are constructive and destructive ways of dealing with our feelings but the one thing that is certain is that we should never just ignore them. We should be supportive of anyone that we know who is having a particularly difficult time. Maybe all we need do is just sit quietly beside them or maybe we allow them to voice all of their anger without judgement or attempts to assuage their emotions. If we really know and love someone we will understand whether they need a good laugh or a virtual hug or the freedom to vent.
At this point we probably all know someone who is exceedingly afraid or angry or annoyingly optimistic or calm. It’s important to remember that we each process the global grief that we are feeling in very different ways. I tend to appear to be a bastion of strength in difficult moments, which is true, but few see my breakdowns once the danger has passed. The feelings that we are experiencing are very real and important and if we watch carefully we will surely note that even our youngest children are reeling from them. Enough of us may have closeted ourselves away from Covid-19 to begin to flatten the curve of contagion but the curve of our feelings is growing exponentially with each passing day.
I got a surprise FaceTime call from my niece, Lorelai, last week. She is a delightfully vibrant, bright and honest child. Our conversation began with questions about a mathematics assignment that she had to complete, but eventually became a tour of her newly organized bedroom and her feelings. It was one of the happiest and healthiest encounters that I have enjoyed of late.
I learned that Lorelai had used most of her time away from school doing lessons online and cleaning her bedroom. She had done a remarkable job with each of these endeavors but admitted that without a live audience with her teachers it was sometimes difficult to grasp concepts. She joked that she was finding out that there is an alternative way of speaking the English language that is quite foreign to talking in Texan. She mentioned that in spite of the dramatic changes in her life she was feeling closer to and more understanding of her siblings. She concluded our little chat by showing me color samples of paint that she was considering for the walls of her bedroom. We both agreed that a lovely lilac color called Opera was a magnificent choice.
I felt so uplifted after talking with Loreali mostly because she is so real about her feelings. All too often we adults tend to hide behind veils of bravery when we really just want to scream like a little nephew of mine did when his mom made him wear a pair of tight fitting shorts that were uncomfortable and not his style. We don’t have to pretend how we are feeling nor should we be upset with others who are emoting in ways that feel uncomfortable to us.
I have a friend who has the most wonderful conversations with her little boy. They sit together and address his issues as they arise. Sometimes his toddler logic is confusing, perhaps because he himself is feeling uncertain. She is a model of patience with him and as a result together they get past all of the toxic moments with love.
Reach out with an open mind. It’s perhaps the most wonderful thing that we might do for one another right now. If you are in a very bad place, don’t hide. Find someone who will listen with compassion. Allow the tears or laughter or prayers or whatever helps to cleanse the toxins from your soul. We may all be in the same boat but some around us are in yachts while others are floating on wreckage. Be aware, be kind and be above all be honest.