I enjoy my fantasy of being able to control things, it makes the world feel safer and more manageable.
My illusions of control over my life have been severely challenged by this pandemic. I think that has been true for many of us. I enjoy my fantasy of being able to control things, it makes the world feel safer and more manageable. However, I have been now been violently and repeatedly confronted with the fact that I have such little control over much of anything.
This reality we are living in right now is rapidly changing and pretty frightening. I am noticing that my reactions are all over the place. Below is my ever-evolving theory of fairly common reactions to this collective trauma.
Stages of Covid-19 Acceptance*
1. Denial: It’s not that big of a deal, more people die from the common flu every year. People are just overreacting.
2. Bargaining: Ok so it’s not great for older people but I’ll be fine, I’ll get some more toilet paper….just in case.
3. Avoidance: While sheltering in place I am going to make a strict schedule and stick to it! I’m going to get into the best shape of my life, I’ll start meditating for 45 min a day and I am going to eat only kale and chicken breast.
4. Depression: What does it matter? What day is it anyway? Showering and pants are optional while I cry and watch Tiger King, right?
There is a lot of loss right now and it’s important to feel that.
5. Grief: This is hard. There is a lot of loss right now and it’s important to feel that. Loss of many of my illusions about society and my ability to control the world around me. For many, loss of vacation plans, graduation celebrations, weddings, and being able to birth a child with a partner present. Loss of in person connectedness. The loss of a loved one. The loss of a sense of safety when I leave my house.
I don’t have to like something to accept it.
6. Acceptance: Some days I have the energy to do yoga and some days showering feels hard. We are in a scary situation and it is ok to feel scared, it is ok to cope in any way that fits, it is ok to do what works for you. I don’t have to like something to accept it. I don’t like that this is my/our new reality, but it is what it is. I can feel all my feelings about it, it’s ok. My reactions are valid and real.
Like much else in life, none of these steps are linear. I find myself indulging in moments of denial because the grief feels like too much at the moment. At other times I feel the peace of acceptance until there is something new to grieve.
A worldwide pandemic is a life changing event, let it change your life.
A worldwide pandemic is a life changing event, let it change your life. Lets lean in, grieve, and accept that the world around us is changing and we have no real control over it…the only true control we have is how we respond to our emotions and communicate our needs. Stay safe and healthy friends.
*I want to acknowledge that many people do not have the luxury to do things like “shelter in place”. This list does come from a place of privilege however steps 5 and 6 are steps all of us likely need to process through regardless of our circumstances.
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