Quarantine. Am I right? HA!
In the stages of grief, I believe I’ve completed the course. I’m sure there will be continuing education credits I’ll be forced to endure, but here, in week 4, I have a solid grasp on the mood swing that is Pandemic Life. We’ve all heard of the stages of grief. It is often for big losses: loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of fruit tray you dropped in the parking lot on the way to your graduate defense.
In mid-March 2020, AKA approximately 2 years ago, there was a lot of avoidance and fear. I even convinced a mom-friend that we should take our kids to IKEA one last time before we were trapped in the house with them for who knows how long. The next day parents had pulled their kids from preschool. Everything shut down. Then came the headlines. The toilet paper hoarding. The lack of fresh chicken. Fear.
Then came the anxiety and irritation. Working from home suddenly became feeding people who typically left the house during the day, entertaining those who have perfectly good friends and toys somewhere else. Don’t let them just sit on screens. Make sure they connect with their friends. Do enrichment activities with them. Don’t sabotage your marriage. Shield them from your fear. Shut the absolute hell up. From anger came bargaining.
OK so I’m stuck here, how am I going to survive. The younger kid can do some reading exercises then I can have a break while they have screen time. The older kid can complete e-learning then read for however long she wants. I’ll make sure everyone has dinner if no one gives me shit for hiding in my flower beds for an hour or so.
When these conditions aren’t met, boy howdy have I hit depression. I had a solid day where I didn’t want to get out of bed and I cried. A lot. I know depression. I call it the Dark Place. It makes me a not-nice person with a hair trigger. So I let myself have that day of darkness and the next morning I scraped my way out. Luckily I have a family that gave me the space I needed to fight that battle and get back into the light.
That’s where we are now. Acceptance
Acceptance that this may just be life for the next (literal) season. So I’ve grieved the lost vacations and trips. I’ve grieved the missing social interactions. I’ve grieved the planned outings to theater and birthday parties. We haven’t gotten this virus yet. We are doing what we have been told to help prevent the spread. Now we are looking at creating our New Normal.
I know this is a cycle. I know that a day will come soon where I’ll probably be hurled back into the Dark Place and need to fight my way out again. I’m going to lose my temper and I’m going to feel overwhelmed. But knowing that this is all natural human emotion means I can ride the waves without drowning. I may not be in control of the emotions, but they aren’t in control of me.