I feel like I am completely and utterly unraveling.
And it turns out that’s perfectly normal in these “unprecedented times.”
How are you? It feels rougher right now, doesn’t it?
We are not alone.
My kids are older, and the lockdown at the end of last school year was alright in our house. But ONLY because I didn’t have to teach my kids (I’m an introvert at heart). Lockdown was also alright because we were financially OK, even though my work all but dried up. So we muddled through the spring and, honestly, it was OK. It started to drag during the summer, but we know this is a long game, and things were good enough.
COVID won’t be “over” by the end of the year. It’s a virus – a disease. We don’t eradicate them. Well, we practically do, but then we bring them back. (Looking at you, measles.) So COVID is among us and always will be. Of course, we’ll manage it better; people will develop immunity, there will be a vaccine – I don’t think we’ll be all masked up for the rest of our lives – but it seems as if COVID is here to stay.
Fine. Whatever. We can handle it.
But GOOD. GRACIOUS.
This fall – just before the kids went back to school, actually – I started noticing I was super agitated. And if I was noticing it, it had probably been happening for a while. (My most sincere apologies to my husband, the Professor.)
I thought that when the kids went back to school (and ours are in person, five days a week with massive precautions), I would settle down. Maybe I just needed to get people out of my house because maybe there is such a thing as ‘too much time together.’ (OF COURSE THERE IS SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH TOGETHER TIME. See: 2020.)
I was feeling really unsettled, anxious, pissed off, and nothing good. I still am. I feel like I talk to everyone in my life about this and they ALL know EXACTLY what I mean. I also talk to strangers about it and they also know EXACTLY what I mean. I talk about it a lot. To the point where I fear people see me coming and think, “Oh fudge nugget, here she comes again.” (“Fudge nugget”, by the way, is an expression my 12-year-old daughter taught me and I love it and Ima make it mine, starting right now with this post.)
I was out with some of my gym friends lamenting this AGAIN. (Don’t worry – we were distanced on an outside patio.) One of them later sent me an episode of Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast. Even Brené is feeling it right now.
It’s real, y’all.
So many articles these days are talking about how hard things are and how women – moms especially – are bearing the brunt of it all. We are not crazy and we are not alone.
But back to the Unlocking Us podcast. The September 23rd episode, “Thoughts on RBG, Exhaustion, & Play as an Energy Source” explains it. We are not crazy. We’ve maxed out our “surge capacity.” She references an excellent article by Tara Haelle called “Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted – It’s Why You Feel Awful: Here’s how to pull yourself out of despair and live your life.”
This is the paragraph in the article that jumped out me:
“Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. But natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.”
Which is where are right now. We cannot sustain the surge so we feel exhausted. And anxious. And unsettled. And angry. And we’re not really sure how to refill our capacity, because we’re feeling all of these things.
The article also offers ways to address this – be kind to yourself, find new ways to energize yourself, remember that life is just different now. But that’s easier said than done.
When I realized that what I was feeling was perfectly normal, and to be expected in a situation like we’re in, I felt so validated and a wee, little bit lighter. I’m not back to my pre-pandemic self by any stretch of the imagination – but realizing that this is a real thing? It helped me take a breath and cut myself some slack.
We’ve recently bought a new 100-year old house that will need some renovations. We’ve also sold our current home and are busy getting that ready for the new owners. We’re packing up the entire life we’ve lived in Columbia so far. Our girls are dealing with some big scary things, so there’s all that on top of all this.
It’s a lot.
But in the end, please remember…
Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Find new ways to energize yourself. Know you’re not alone. Breathe deep. Get outside. Cry. Read a book. Hug someone. Know you’re doing the very best you can. Paint. Remember that ‘good enough’ is actually good enough. Go for a walk with a friend. Drink a glass of wine on the driveway (or in the bathtub). Say a prayer. Take a nap. Watch TV. Whatever you need to do to feel better, to feel restored, to get a break. DO IT.
We can do this.