Although we are Red Sox Nation, we are also hearty Yankees.
Between winter, deep freeze, soaring gas prices, COVID, kids, schooling, aging parents, loved ones in facilities with COVID outbreaks, and let alone whatever you are personally dealing with, sometimes the stiff upper lip is not our friend. All the while, deep down inside, you’re wondering if another lurking variant comes after the letter O. If we turtle, pull inside our armor, and maintain that everything is FINE (even when it’s NOT), we deny ourselves something critically important.
The amount of significant conflict from our small communities to the big-ticket items across the planet, let alone inside the privacy of our own lives, keeps us on our tip toes as we try to navigate it all. What I keep hearing is, “I am exhausted.” End of sentence. My internal capacity for strategizing and coping is on overflow. It’s not that we don’t care; it might be that our receptor sites are all taken. Many of us feel numb. We ask… what’s next?
In my experience, particularly in decades of hospice nursing, caring for those at the end of life, and the many who are in that inner circle, being able to say, “This is not how I want it. This is NOT OK… I object” has power. I don’t suggest that we have been pretending, but we have long been working at the lemonade project from the trucks of lemons rolling down every Main Street in Anywhere, USA.
Some may be afraid to admit to the fatigue, doubts, fear, and lack of confidence in decision-makers. Yet, no matter your position, you have felt vulnerable. If not for yourself, then for your children, your elder loved ones, or those whose medical situations increase their risks. While on the outside, it’s empowering to do what we feel is right (vaccinations, masking, distancing, and social restrictions).
I suggest we consider a fly-over two-year review of where we have been.
“Keeping it in” isn’t our friend. We are seeing a record number of mental health exacerbations, lack of hospital beds, more and more medication use, and family disruption. Like survivors of other traumas, it leaves an imprint.
If you were considering some form of expression, what would that look like? You can try writing, painting, composing a piece of music, talking (to others…or yourself), primal screaming at the beach, a support group, or another new endeavor? Maybe it’s as simple as getting yourself a lovely journal book and making an entry that says, “COVID was miserable, I hate it. I hate what it has done to everything in its wake.” End of story.
Perhaps you will write much more, and it will be powerful. Maybe your painting is dark and stormy, or it could be sunny and lovely. Whatever is within can find a way out. We know we are a people of expression.
In the big life moments, births, marriages, deaths, and all the wonder in between, we express. We give toasts, write obits, and celebrate lives coming in or going out. You may think you are NOT expressive, but in truth, we are expressing what’s inside us every day, all the time. Perhaps you express with your car, the way you drive, the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, the foods you eat, and the friends you make, keep, or lose.
Find your way to express two years in retrospect.
Although I hate trite, I have to say that there has been some collateral beauty. I am surer than ever about my career choice and am more confident than ever in my team at Aberdeen. I value life and health more than ever before. I want to learn the lessons here for me and have been. I want to “get it” so that I haven’t wasted this time.
There may be little or no collateral beauty for families deeply affected by COVID. But, you know, just like I do, about the wonderful, awful truth of “both / and.” Here we are again. Perhaps it’s there, hiding like it’s in witness protection, afraid to be seen or known.
It seems as if the COVID volume is turning down, at least in our small corner of the planet. We aren’t sure what’s next, but we will gladly take the reprieve. Our many challenges are still with us. Some are resolving. Both / And. Horrible and Wonderful.