Understand that ‘I am me’, I am always ‘me’
You won’t find me pretending to impress you or to win you over. I’m opening myself to you, to be transparent with you, so be seen by you. Understand that I am being 100 percent real and 100 percent selfish. I am disappointed by where my mind takes me. But unless I am upfront about what I feel, I will never come to normalize these circumstances. I understand that my feelings are only relevant to me, and they are open to your judgment. Understand that like you, I don’t want to feel alone in what I’m feeling, and for that reason, I am here sharing my anxieties, my neurosis, and my unknowns with you.
I can’t sleep
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. More importantly, I don’t know what the next month will bring, and am absolutely terrified of one year into the future. I sometimes wake up from a nightmare only to realize that I’ve woken up to another nightmare. Weeks ago, to be exact March 16, 2020, we all fell asleep in one world and have now woken up in another. The proposed treatment plans, the prepaid holidays, and vacations have all been canceled.
The word ‘planned’ no longer applies to anything we know of the future. We can’t plan any further ahead than the next meal or past tomorrow’s webinar. And all of us, to become who we are, to have gotten where we currently are, we all have been exceptional planners. Many of us have had our futures planned from the moment we entered our undergraduate study. We have begun planning for our retirement decades ahead and maybe ever our kids’ education. And to have all of our plans scrapped, to be unable to plan is uncanny.
Shock and disbelief guide our day to day function
This physiological pain has abruptly turned into a lack of air in the room. Tears have come flowing at all the wrong times. Shock and disbelief guide our day to day function. Have you caught yourself wanting to open your eyes wider to figure out if this maybe is a bad dream after all? The strength we have to carry to bring safekeeping to our families, our children, weighs on our shoulders. We come to weekly crossroads of simply wanting to scream.
And not unlike cancer, the classic ‘why me’ experience has turned to ‘why us’. And despite the fact that we are in this together, it still doesn’t dampen the sensation of simply wanting to run. The pressure that has built from the unknowns is swallowing up our identities. It muddies our definitions, our values our hopes and dreams. What is our dream anymore? What is our hope anymore? We are forced to simply experience what is present. And with the present being so unknown we feel more lost now than ever before.
Can’t ignore the emotions
I do realize we must take time to indulge in those emotions. We must allow space for them; we cannot ignore them. Normalizing them will bring about acceptance and will allow us to move past them. Having said that, it is far more important to set aside in our daily time table, and a way grow from this experience. We must look deep within our life long experience to use the situation we are faced with and leverage it as our advantage, or as a potential advantage. Stand with me, stop with me and Refocus with me. Grab a pillow, if you must, push yourself into the smallest closet you can fit in, cover your face with the pillow and scream as loud as you can. And now we are ready to move forward.
It is the ultimate truth in a woman’s existence is that each day we face, we gain strength. I know it, you know it, even the men and children know it. We can look at our current situation and feel a sort of defeat, but we must remain fully aware that we will not be defeated in this battle, in this fight, in this war against COVID 19. In the past, it has been our pain that had fueled our fortitude. As the author, Isabel Allende has said:
“We have unsuspected reserve of strength inside when life puts us to the test.”
So, let’s pass this test. We are about to make lemonade, ladies. But how?
Let’s look back. But, not back to February or early March of 2020 when we were fulfilled with the normalcy of our lives. Use your mind to reverse back in time to your hardest days, your most difficult struggle, to your bloodiest life battle. Remember the fear? Remember slowing down our thoughts so they can only handle minute to minute emotions, hour to hour decisions. The unsettling feeling of what the future will hold? And now, move towards the solutions of those times; the ones that brought you resolution and, in turn, peace.
We, as women, have fought more battles than we can remember, personal and professional. If you remember, there were times when we were broken into pieces, and yet we had found the strength to come back to life, to rebuilt ourselves, to return stronger than ever. Therein lies your proof that we are strong enough to make it thru. NO one but us has soldiered through those times, let’s summon that energy, as confirmation that we have the strength to overcome this. No doubt about it. We will persevere.
Unless you’ve been hiding a crystal ball in your back pocket, you have never known what the future will hold. We may have had plans in our pre-COVID life, and we are well aware of the fact that many of them have had to be scrapped or altered. So how is this any different? We have known that life is hard all along. If we come to accept the fact that life is strenuous, truly accept it, truly expect it, then the level of difficulty won’t be as stark.
A lot of anxiety right now comes from not knowing what our work life will be like when we return. Which team members will come back? How our overhead will be impacted? There are so many questions and no way to determine the answers. No way to predict the outcomes. Will patients pursue necessary and recommended treatment if they don’t feel pain or discomfort? We don’t know the answers to those questions.
Let me try to illustrate this in a different way. We are all familiar with this situation: a phobic patient presents to the office shaking and sweating. After a good talk, some gentle delivery of anesthetic, a thorough explanation of the procedure, and the eventual treatment rendered, the patient gets up and says: ‘that wasn’t as bad?’ I think it may be our turn to be that patient!
Fear has big eyes; it brings about high amounts of anxiety. Don’t let it! Combat it, fight through it, break it down. Don’t create in your mind an erroneous version of the future. Just because we don’t know, doesn’t mean it’ll be ‘that bad.’
The absolute requirement in leading a good and fulfilling life is to be able to look for the good. Joy and happiness don’t always present its glory upon wishful thinking; there are many times that we have had to leverage its’ presence. It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes we are tested not to feel our weakness but to show and grow in our strength. We are women! We are built from precious clay, unlike any other. Over the years, we have come to realize that difficult moments will define us, and those very defining moments will propel us.
So, go ahead, look the COVID devil in the eye and give it a wink. We’ve got this!