It has been an interesting six weeks (to say the least)!
We have lived through an event that will be spoken of in the history books. Upon entering 2020 we had no idea that our world would be changed so drastically in such a short amount of time, as a pandemic swept across the landscape of the world. Like so many, I have found myself trying to wrap my mind around this sudden shift in reality, while trying to carve a new normal out of a situation that is anything but normal.
Through this shift in reality we, like so many others, have gone through a grieving process of sorts as we come to grips with life suddenly changing and so many aspects of what was once predictable, becoming uncertain. I have found myself glued to the news as numbers are updated and the newest closures and policy changes are announced. I find myself riding a wave of ever-changing emotions as I am carried high on the crest of gratitude and acceptance only to be dropped suddenly into a trough of fear and despair.
Our days are reflective of that dichotomy.
In the midst of our new normalcy (Toby home from work, school activities canceled, Grace and Zach living in the bus, Molly’s MTC experience moved to home, and a stay-at-home order issued for Pennsylvania) our days are a melded mix of light and dark.
We’ve strived to establish routine and predictability in this new lifestyle, with periods of the day set aside for schoolwork, projects, chores, exercise and family fun.
And from the quarantine that has been thrust upon us many great blessings have come.
It has been a joy getting more time with Toby, Grace, Zach and Molly who normally aren’t home this often.
We have had the opportunity to work on projects that always seem to be put on the back burner in the midst of the more pressing, time-sensitive obligations.
Family connections have deepened as more time has been set aside for working, praying and playing as a family.
Life skills have been learned as the kids have worked side by side with Toby and I on family projects. Braden learned to change the car’s oil as he worked aside Toby. Planting a garden has become a family project and the kids are learning first hand the life lessons of sowing and reaping.
We have found the extra time has allowed us to more easily prioritize the important over the urgent. This adjustment in our perspective and the blessings that have come from this forced stillness would not have happened had we not all been sent home to heal..
But there is a flip side to this story. In the midst of the light that has come forth during this trying time, there is still a darkness that hangs heavy in the air. With the increase in disruption to everyday life comes big emotions and big reactions to these new stressors. Many around the world find themselves grieving for the loss of a loved one to Covid-19.
Seniors are missing out on the milestones that commemorate their last 12 years of effort. (I have two seniors grieving.) Many around the world are counting the cans in the cabinet, wondering how much longer they will last. Others are carefully watching the dwindling dollars in their bank account, uncertain of how they will care for their families if they can’t get back to work. Feelings of loneliness plague those who are social-isolating at home, while those living in violent homes would give anything for the safety of being home alone rather than living in violence..
And in the midst of all this personal angst, there is an ongoing feud playing out online and in the news, as divisions between left and right grow wider and opinions grow stronger. Discord and judgement prevail and rather than humanity coming together in support of each other against a common enemy, we instead are seeing hatred, judgement and dismissiveness take precedent over compassion and connection.
Here is the reality, friends: We are all fighting hard to survive in this circumstance that has been thrust upon us. We are all grieving the loss of things we once enjoyed and mourning the life that once was, all while struggling to come to grips with the fact that life as it was has changed.
We all need to practice kindness with ourselves and each other. Everyone is struggling in their own way, as illustrated in the excerpt below:
WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT …
“I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.
For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.
With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.
Some families of 4 just received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.
Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.
Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.
Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.
Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.
Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.
So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.
Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.
We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.” –Author unknown
I am watching this reality play out around me…
Even within my own home.
For some this forced stillness has been a great blessing, as family members have used this “time-out” to rest, renew, and refocus.
For others it has been a living hell as the threat of loss triggers past trauma, and the absence of normal coping skills and therapeutic support brings increased anxiety and anger.
For my children who have lived through the hell of being trapped at home in an abusive situation, the mandate forcing them to stay at home triggers insecurity. For my children who have known hunger, the dwindling amount of cans on the pantry shelf brings fears that hunger will come again. For my children who have known the loss of loved ones to death, the constant barage of daily death tolls brings great feelings of fear. For my children who find attachment and connection stifling, 24 hours a day of togetherness brings feelings of panic. Anger then boils over into destruction, and past hurts emerge as current hurting behaviors.
I have struggled to blog for the last two weeks as so many of these struggles have come to head. The dichotomy of quarantine life is hard for me to wrap my brain around so how do I speak my truth to others?
What has our time at home been like during this worldwide pandemic?
Well, to quote Charles Dickens:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Over the next few blogs I will be posting pictures of some of our more positive pandemic moments of life. To those looking in from the outside, know that it is but one side of our reality. Like all of you, our life is an unusual dichotomy of positive and negative, happy and sad, hopefulness and hopelessness.
Our life is a rollercoaster of high peaks and devastating drops, as the stress of uncertainty and the grieving of what has been lost, becomes too much to manage.
A family game night is followed by a fist through the television set.
A luau themed dinner comes on the heals of a visit by the police to calm a child in crisis.
A hike on a Sunday afternoon is paired with a trip to the ER.
A family drive might be just that, or it could just as easily be another frantic search for a runaway teen.
This is my reality.
We are surviving, just as you are.
We will get through this, but in the meantime let us all show a little more kindness and a little less judgement, for we are navigating this storm in different boats.