Doing the Things that Scare Us

Right now I’m scared to stay positive. I mean, I am feeling positive but I’m scared to share that. I’m scared to show that in the faces of those who are struggling right now and want to see validation of their pain.

I guess I’m positive now because I just wasn’t. These past two months, really starting around the time Kobe died and my mother had pending bladder surgery, the sky started to fall.

Yesterday I read in Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons that there’s a day called “Blue Monday.” It’s approximately one month after Christmas and is supposedly the saddest time of the the year. She went on to write about Seasonal Affective Disorder and how it affected her during that period of her life.

Wow. Bullseye. Nailed it. That’s almost exactly when it hit me, too.

My life and emotions felt heavy prior to COVID-19 becoming a household name. Yesterday I mentioned to a friend that she should join WHO or the EPA because she was warning me about this virus months ago. In fact my response to her worry upon hearing its name was, “I don’t know what that is…”. She couldn’t believe that was only two months ago.

Yes, I can live under a rock. I like it there sometimes. The other day my daughter learned that bugs live under rocks. We were outside playing grocery store with found objects and she lifted a rock and saw a pill bug. Then yesterday she asked to play ‘Chase our shadows’ again. I’ve been running at the park with the kids in the stroller. When finished, we venture into the middle of the field–no people, no play structures, just open air to ourselves. And sun, lots and lots of sun. Did I mention the sun?!

Vancouver has had a weather break this week where spring blew in and landed. I just couldn’t miss these chances to get out.

Which brings me back to why I am feeling positive and stable now.

I am getting out. I know that many cannot do that right now. And that’s hard. I know for myself if I don’t, I’ll be back where I was in January and that’s scary. I know that’s scary for a lot of parents right now–the balance of your own mental health against the needs of the world.

. . .

I take solace in knowing the next season will still arrive. More flowers are still coming. I’m ready to bloom, too. Life is returning for me as well.

On Tuesday we did a Facetime call with some friends. They mentioned they went on a flower hunt in their neighborhood and tallied the different colors observed. I was thankful for my returned presence. Earlier that same morning I was reminded of my teacher life. On St. Patrick’s Day I went to our storage shed and pulled out my spring items–shamrocks, green paper, rainbow works, and flower sorting, and my favorite: butterfly matching.

I feel fortunate to have these at my disposal.

Yesterday morning I sat with the girls and watched them complete these activities. It brought such joy to see how much they’re learning. I also couldn’t resist appreciating the moment for what it provided knowing that just a few months ago it all felt so impossible. I planned to do all this at-home Montessori in the fall after our move and I was not ready. Far from ready. Too much was happening in our transition and I wasn’t ready to let go of my perfectionism to just start.

But today, here we were–doing that thing that felt oh so hard two moons ago.

So I get it. It’s hard. You may want to do all these things with your kids right now but your own mental health is sitting in the way. Or maybe you have no interest in that at all. I see you, too. I can’t tell you something I don’t know. But I know this, it’ll probably be hard until you find your groove. And only you can do that.

For me I had to weed through weeks of yo-yo emotions and personal tantrums. I saw resentment build a wall between my husband and me. And underneath that all, I also clung to a desire to look at the shadow parts of myself–to keep looking even when it was scary. I’ve had a lot going on.

And perhaps, now you do, too. I get it.

There is so much on your plate right now and while we are going through this together the trouble is that your situation is still unique to you. Your responsibilities have not gone away, they’ve only grown–maybe tenfold! Just because we are going through this together doesn’t mean that we’re magically relieved of the stress that comes with it.

So I don’t want to offer advice. There’s enough of that going around right now. As soon as one parent says they need structure, another is quick to chime in that we should cherish this time together instead. A new post sends and a tweet comes in telling us all to slow down; That it’s OK to do nothing–neither write book nor count blessings.

Wherever you are is OK. There is nowhere you need to be right now.

But I get it. Oh, I especially get it if you don’t want to be here right now. That sentiment resonates so deeply in my body. I can feel your resistance. Yes, I feel it. I know it. I know exactly what it tastes like, too. It’s bitter and awful. I get it–you don’t want this thing, this fucking thing, to be in your life right now. UGHH. You’re so pissed that it’s even here. You were doing so great before it. And now, fuck, it’s here and what the hell are you supposed to do?!

Oh, I get it.

You just want it to go away so you can go back to the life you had. The life that was good before this thing entered.

I see you looking at it in contempt. I feel the tension in your fingers and the clench in your teeth.

I get it.

I was there. I’ve been there many times before. Ughhhhh.

My thing wasn’t a virus, or a pandemic, but it still plagued me. And it was only when I was ready to face it did it start to go away. Only when I was ready to stop resisting did I begin to heal.

And you will, too. Once you go through the process of it. Once you get into your new rhythm. Once the resistance stops. There is no rush. But know this:

It’ll stop.
It’ll stop.
It’ll stop.
It’ll stop.

And then it’ll get better. It’ll get better ’cause you’ll be ready to get better. The only reason you’re resisting it now is because you’re not ready to get better. And that’s ok. It’s ok to not be ready to get better. Because your day will come where it does get better and the sun is shining and the birds are out and it’s spring and things are blooming.

That’s the season I find myself in now. But I know what it feels like to be in yours. It just so happens I’m not feeling the anxiety right now because I felt it for the last two months and counting. /sigh/. I was there with you. I was there in that absolutely.not.wanting.this thing.right now. As I said, my thing wasn’t a virus but it still plagued me. It still kept me under. That’s what an unchecked mental health will do to you. And the only reason I can speak this right now is because earlier I sat at the park, which thankfully I’m permitted to do, and I saw the cherry blossoms. I felt the warm breeze and heard chatter stream around me. The words I wanted to tell you started to come to me.

I am able to tell you this now, in a new light, because I remembered my needs. I remembered what I needed for my mental health and I did that thing (as best I could in this social distancing period). Getting outside, of course, isn’t my only need but something magical started to happen when I remembered to take care of myself and prioritize those needs again. I could handle the world. I could take care of the world, including the one that lives within me.

When I started to take care of myself again my crises started to lessen.

When you’re ready you will get out of this– but only when you’re ready. And when you’re ready, you will. You will.

Right now I am grounded and I couldn’t be more thankful. I know where I am at. And while I am still slow to admit it, I am doing well. I can see why flowers bloom from mud and bounties grow from fertilizer. They remind us we can, too.

I am letting this carry me through what I imagine are going to be some tricky new few weeks (months?!).

I am reminding myself that I am my own energy. I needn’t take on another’s, particularly if that induces fear and anxiety.

I am allowed to be where I am.

Right now that’s sitting in my morning chair, scribing these words, and sipping now luke-warm coffee. My toes are cold because I didn’t put on socks or slippers but the coolness of the floor is a welcome feel. I see our chalk designs we made this week on the pavement outside. I’m still thinking about yesterday’s spontaneous dance party, which started as a party of three but ended with just me bustin’ away.

Because I needed movement. I desperately need movement and outlets to express myself. Although I feel the temptation to abandon these habits in the face of uncertainty I actually need them more than ever.

They ground me.

Yesterday after five plays of “Move It,” four renditions of “Let it Go” (yes, again!), and three selections from The Jungle Book soundtrack, my feet began to signal they were done. They grew sore from the rapid tapping and touching of the ground. By lunchtime I learned I probably should have conserved my energy, but then I remembered how it felt. How I felt. Within 30 seconds of my grooving I swelled with exuberance and tears. All this latent emotion was bubbling to the surface.

I was actually being me.

I was letting it all go.

I was letting it all out.

It was the best god-damn feeling in the world.

. . .

It may not be today or tomorrow or even next week but I trust if you stay your course, if you bunker into your heart and listen to yourself, you, too, will be set free.

I walked down the stairs this morning remembering yesterday’s call. This time it was not a sobriety focused meeting, but a coming together of mothers. I’m proud to be part of Jamina Bone’s, Momming with Truth, community. We met yesterday to share our feelings, to update each other on our mental states in response to Coronovirus and the impact it’s had on us personally. This is a community where you get to say it’s hard. It’s nuts. It’s foolish. It’s mind-numbing. It’s great. Wherever you are these parents, these mothers, meet you.

This is where I got a chance to hear the hard parts from the mothers who were willing–or perhaps just desperately needing to–admit this new period is tough as hell. They were looking for support. I’ll be honest, this is partly what prompted me to write today. I noticed my own apprehensiveness in my own share. It can be hard to share the joy when we feel guilty others are going through a tough time. Nonetheless, I felt honored to be able to share that space with them. They and you are in my heart.

As I met the landing at the bottom of the stairs I remembered my favorite quote. Interestingly, I’ve had it pinned for years and had never really paid attention to its author until this summer. The name was always there but it never caught my eye. Funny how things change. Marianne Williamson’s words have gone on to guide more than I would have ever expected.

Ego says, “Once everything falls into place I’ll feel peace. Spirit says, “Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.”

Marianne Williamson

These words have gotten me through many an anxious-time. And I leave you with them because I’ve lived them. I’ve experienced their power. I’ll continue to come back to them as needed.

With abundance and love,
<3 Christina

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