This stay-at-home order, it is really messing with me.
I continue to whiplash between grief and gratefulness. At any given minute of the day, I am tossed from one feeling to the next. The podcasts, news stories, books I read tell me to feel all the feelings. I am not afraid of the feelings. I am afraid of the unpredictability of the feelings. I am a high school teacher - feelings do not scare me - teenagers feel intense feelings. And their feelings are unpredictable. I don’t mind this because I am in control of my own feelings. I can support them because I am not the one getting whiplash. But now I am. And it is hard.
Brene Brown has a new podcast series out called Unlocking Us. Run, don’t walk, to listen. You will find something in there for your heart, something else for your mind. Anyway, Brene Brown interviews David Kessler, who is an author and researcher about grief. He worked with Elisabeth Kubler Ross and the model of five stages of grief. He has added a sixth stage, one about making meaning from the loss. When Brene asked him about the COVID-19 pandemic, he says, “we are all dealing with the collective loss of the life we knew.” Ok, deep breath. We have the loss of normal. And my loss is different from your loss. And the most important loss is your own. Let’s not not compare losses, instead be with one another in the feelings.
I grieve the control over my time, the routine of my day, and the connections I had at school. I miss my people. I grieve going to the gym, having drinks with friends, and giving hugs. Oh man, I am a hugger.
Normal was not working for me, however. My normal was too fast, too busy, too scattered. I wondered who I was going to disappoint that day. I had reached capacity and added more to my plate. I was trying to please everyone and forgetting what made me happy. I am grateful for the reset button. But I am not grateful for the pandemic. I am grateful for the time. I am not grateful that people are feeling scared, unsure, and frustrated. I am grateful that we have done more yard work than we would have. See the whiplash?
I am working hard on who I am going to be after the world opens again. I am … a teacher, a mom, partner, sister, aunt, and daughter. I am an athlete, I am a chef, I am a reader. I am a learner. I am a writer. I am a leader. I am a hugger.
With this list of my identities that I choose to be… wait, did you hear that? My identities are not what anyone else has chosen for me, rather what I have chosen to be. Those identities come with a set of actions. Writers, well they write. So if I want to be a writer, I write. (I just deleted the word should. It is a word I am breaking up with.) As an athlete, I move my body. As a mom, I …
As the reset button has been pushed I will be in control of who I am. I will not whiplash around that idea. I am not grieving for the person I was. I am grateful for the person I will become.