Sometimes words fail us. Sometimes, the feelings are so overwhelming, that it takes every little bit of inner strength we have left, to gulp for air. Sometimes, there isn’t a right or a wrong. And it’s ok to feel disappointed. Hurt. Angry. Scared. It’s also ok to look on the bright side. To hold on to the silver lining and to hope for a better tomorrow.
I’ve experienced all of the above over the last few weeks. I was one of those that started off incredibly positive. #PositivityOverPanic. I stood firmly behind the decisions of our leaders, and was fully prepared to weather the storm. We knew it was going to be tough. We knew that it would be inconvenient, We also knew that it was going to be financially ruinous but that we would make it. We just had to hold on and hope.
We were a nation united for the first time in decades. United behind a President who inspired us. Who we respected. Who we trusted whole-heartedly to lead us. To protect our people. And to keep us safe.
I made home-made play-dough for my son. Created art and crafts. The husband set up our tent in the garden and we lay under the trees and read stories to our son. I photographed lockdown life to remember these times. Practiced gratitude for my family. My home. The food in my cupboards. And yes, the wine on my counter.
Then three weeks became five. And my old friend anxiety came to visit. This time though, she did not come alone and she brought along with her fear. Fear started to permeate the fabric of our every day. In the angry Facebook posts. In the calls for civil disobedience. In friends, turning on friends, in disagreement of “What is really going on?”, and “What’s the real agenda?”.
Fear woke me at night by showing me spreadsheets of the bills we have to pay vs the money coming in. Fear robbed me of the power to be positive, by bombarding my news feed with negativity, by filling my messages with despondence and by exploiting those who were looking for answers, by feeding them fake news and conspiracy theories. Fear left me lying on my office floor in tears. Crying. Sobbing. Hyperventilating.
How could we be living in a world where we were no longer allowed to hug? What kind of reality would it be where our children are forced to wear masks. Where we were not allowed to swim in the ocean? Where lonely people became more lonely due to isolation. And the hungry started to starve?
The thing about a good cry is, that it’s always cathartic. It didn’t fix anything. And it left me with an almighty headache. But it did lighten the emotional load.
I have realised that navigating this Coronacoaster is more about allowing all feelings their time and space. I’ve realised that we have to allow for it to be ok to be grateful for what we have, while mourning what we’ve lost. We need to be able to express our frustration of not being able to buy wine and swim in the ocean. Feeling this way doesn’t mean we are not aware of the far greater things that are at risk. It just means we are coping in the only way we know how. It’s ok to feel guilty for a warm bed and that woolies grocery run. Its ok to want to tell the teller that you’re living off three maxed-out credit cards on rotation. Its ok to feel judged for your privilege, and its ok that this makes you angry. Its ok to allow yourself to feel the frustration of seeing hungry people every day and not being able to help. It’s ok to be hopeful and hopeless, and happy and sad, all in the space of 60 minutes. It’s ok to look for answers. To think you’ve found them. And it’s ok to change your mind. It’s ok to have an unpopular opinion, and its ok to voice it. It’s also ok to be silent. To observe. Or even to completely switch off and disengage. It’s ok to be ok. And it’s ok, not to be. Every feeling is valid.
I have found myself to be far more reactive than responsive over this time. I have allowed my emotions to run wild and to lead me astray. That’s also ok. I am working on it.
What’s not ok is to turn on each other. It’s not ok to incite an uprising – remember where we come from and how quickly things can turn violent. It’s not ok to judge others when the respond differently to us. It’s not ok to disregard someone’s beliefs. It’s not ok to minimise someone’s pain. Our challenges and our pain are relative, and we can all only try to do our best.
It is not ok to turn on each other.
Times of crisis bring out the best and the worst in humanity. We have witnessed both over the past few weeks. My prayer is that at the end of this, (because it will end one day) goodness will have triumphed. That we chose kindness, and that we rise as a nation united.
Until then, I will have good days and bad days. I will have some really awful days. I will cry because I miss the ocean. I will battle to find the words to express the emptiness of not being able to see our families, or visit our friends. I will get stressed-out over how we will pay our bills. I will snap. I will shout at my child. I will feel guilty. I will wish I had a glass of wine. I will also wish we could just have our old lives back and I will rage over how much I hate Corona. BUT…
I will also circle back to hope. I will see the beauty in watching my son grow. I will watch in gratitude as I see my husband grow into the most incredible father. I will give thanks for the safety and health of my family and friends. I will snuggle my dogs. Hold my husband’s hand and keep dreaming of the day that I will run without restriction straight into that deep, blue sea.