I recently met with a couple I’ve been working with for quite some time. We hadn’t met in over a month due to a number of unforeseen events, including the fact that they’d each contracted Covid within the same week. It was a shock to them considering that they’d both been vaccinated and had practiced diligent Covid safety behaviors for the past year, like mask wearing in all public places, no indoor dining, avoidance of large gatherings, etc.
As with so many of us, Covid had become the dreaded Boogeyman, especially for the husband who was immunocompromised. It had become the terrorizer, the ticket to an untimely death, if not only a protracted, lonely suffering in an over-crowded hospital. Covid was the provider of all losses:
- no more eating out
- no concerts
- no sporting events
- no presumed working in an office with all its social perks
- no safe travel requiring plane trips
- no movie theaters
- no stress-free grocery shopping
- no shield from other people’s sense of social responsibility or lack of it
- no break from one’s partner or spouse, who now had to fulfill most needs for connection.
- no more easy, safe, spontaneous visits with kids and grandkids
So what was their Covid Silver Lining?
- They thought it fortunate to have both tested positive within a few days, so no need to quarantine from each other!
- They coughed a lot, but weren’t seriously sick, and felt relieved and thankful for being mostly tired.
- They were quite tired, so they felt legitimacy about their frequent need to sleep and nap!
- They had previously stocked up on lots of supplies, so felt proud about preparedness, and relief not needing to shop!
- The end of Summer weather was lovely, so they convalesced outside, not requiring hospitalization!
- They caught up on reading, email and TV without guilt!
- They found a new patience and tenderness with each other, taking turns with nursing roles!
- They had time to talk about small, private things without the pressure of work or interacting with the outside world!
- They enjoyed “paid leave,” and discovered a new appreciation for their jobs.
- They spent a lot of lazy time in their yard, realizing how blessed they were to live in such a beautiful place.
- They spent 18 to 20 days together, getting a taste of “retirement,” and could now envision it!
- But, most of all, they no longer feared the Booogeyman Covid. They had survived. They had thrived. Together.
So, with or without testing positive, what’s your Covid Silver Lining?
It’s been a long, hard year locked up with ourselves amidst Covid 19. So many of our usual distractions and indulgences have gone by the wayside, and most of us have been starkly confined with our own neurotic shortcomings and lazy adaptations.
Millions have gained the “Quarantine 15” and as things open up, are slightly agoraphobic, clinging to the privacy of their home prisons, so people won’t see their 2020 bulge. Pants with buttons and zippers have become relics of the past. Sweatpants and leggings have become our best friends. Aerobic workouts, 5k races and strenuous strength training have become “Going for a Walk.” Needless to say, once hardbodies are now mush.
Makeup, once so sacred and mysterious, has also largely gone by the wayside, replaced with naked faces with all their spots, wrinkles and droops.
Close friends and family, previously such a source of vital warmth and connection, have been replaced by our loyal, adoring dogs, or worse – the prison of Zoom for EVERYTHING.
Haircuts, once such a luxury, have been replaced with either nothing, or DIY chop jobs. (Also, 85% of the world’s blondes have disappeared).
In sum, we all look like Hell…
A cultured life with theater, concerts, dancing and singing, has devolved into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 24/7.
Travel to glorious new places has been replaced by Couch Potato Adventure: TV day and night.
Real life experiences like weddings, parties, graduations and funerals have yielded to the voyeurism of The News, (mostly bad), also day and night.
Lusty evenings of 80 proof booze in bars have been replaced with desperate solo guzzling of 4 proof spiked seltzer.
Intellectual stimulation through conversation, clubs, meetings, and trainings have all become “Zoomified”.
Smiles, with all their compelling warmth, have made way for Eyes-Only, and sometimes contraband Rogue-Nose Faces in a mandated masked world.
And alas, sport shopping at TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Macy’s have yielded to frequent gargantuan boxes arriving from Amazon, often left outside in the rain, generating massive amounts of garbage later needing to be hauled to the curb.
So, what to do with all these charming developments? Get depressed? Go on drugs? Get a shelter dog? Take up the Ukulele? Buy an RV? Get more takeout? Chop down some trees? Get some chickens? Go back on Zoom? Run to a therapist?
Whatever you do, you gotta start laughing at it all….
In this 20 minute episode I discuss the process of losing traction and determination around commitments, why it happens, when it may be a positive thing, and when it may signal some personal or relational shortcomings.
At the time of this writing we’re all hearing about thousands of people giving up their diligence about Covid safety measures, tired of all the constraints and hassles, going back into restaurants, gyms, and planes with resignation or denial about the possibly tragic personal outcome, and the likely surge in Covid cases and deaths.
In this episode I explore how this behavior may be emblematic of other forms of getting tired and giving up, and I invite you to look at where and why you may quit things, vs. when you may be letting go in some healthy ways.
Join the conversation with questions or comments by calling into the studio at 877-497-9046. If you can’t make the live show you can stream it anytime at www.BlogtalkRadio.com/SusanLager.
If your experience of 2020 and early 2021 feels like the above image, you’re not alone! No matter what side of the political fence you’ve embraced it has been a year of loss, constraints, hopelessness, helplessness, hatred, anxieties and extreme division, often among members of the same family, or among friends. Not only have most of us faced differences which have felt toxic and relationship-breaking, but a daily onslaught of information and news about catastrophic events, happening now, or about to unfold. I think there has been a collective experience of trauma in this country, and probably in many places around the world. Covid 19 illnesses and deaths, loss of income, loss of faith in the System, violence, racism, uncertainty.
To that point I’m encouraging everyone to pause and reflect on a few things:
How have you been coping and how well has it served you?
- Over-drinking or drugging?
- Reviewing the horrors frequently with peers who get it?
- Over-eating or over-indulging in comfort foods or sugar?
- Targeting your loved ones with rage-outs?
- Overspending on Amazon?
- Denying anything unusual is happening and proceeding without any cautions or adjustments?
- Over-working and sacrificing sleep / self care rituals?
- Over-thinking and going to catastrophic conclusions?
In my psychotherapy practice I’ve seen how people’s responses to the trauma either exacerbate or alleviate some of the stress, bring people together for support and meaningful action or tear them apart. Depression and anxiety are off the charts now as people struggle with feelings and thoughts that can become runaway trains in response to such triggering events.
So, instead of going through a long list of more functional coping mechanisms I’m encouraging you all to begin by examining the strategies you’re already using and taking an honest look at how well these strategies are serving you. If they calm and energize you, at what cost to yourself or others? If they provide relief, how momentary or enduring is it? Do your coping mechanisms give you any sense of meaning, agency, or connection to others whom you respect and trust? Are you finding any joy amidst all this madness? Are you protecting your mental and physical health, or has that been one price of how you’ve tried to manage?
All meaningful change begins with Contemplation, so give that it’s due. Then, if you decide to seek out different coping tools you’ll be readier to use them intentionally, creatively and effectively.