I’ve been rather quiet on here lately, mainly because the thoughts in my head either were too political for the site, or because they felt too small in comparison to everything going on. Like many of you, I have dealt with fear, uncertainties, questions, and heartache over the past several months as I try to make sense of a world that seems to make little sense at all.
Today, I decided that I needed to write though. Not because I have some words of wisdom, or hope, or understanding, but because I am a writer and the easiest way to quiet the anxiety of my soul is to do what I know how to do – write.
I have been working primarily from home since mid-March. I watched the world go crazy, saw an early end to my son’s junior year of high school, and my college girls finish their semester from the comfort of home. Things didn’t seem so bad, unless I made a trip to the store, that was always when reality would hit like an airbag in the face. But even then, I pressed on, doing my best to be optimistic.
Slowly, the world began to be set in motion again. Stores began opening, more cars were on the road, and even traveling resumed. I was excited by the prospect of being able to go to a different store, or have somebody else fix a meal, but with the opening of businesses came new concerns.
I felt anxious about the rekindling of the virus, afraid of what affect it would have on the following school year. I stressed over the changes that would be implemented at work and if personnel would be let go because of these changes. I worried that the newfound liberties that came with a schedule free life would be stolen away by the return of hectic schedules and never ending demands on time. My ability to stay positive was quickly slipping as I realized more changes would soon be on the way; I felt the slippery slope of depression hugging at the corner of my spirit.
While I was processing these concerns from the pandemic, the country exploded seemingly over night in riots and protests. The tentative plans to go out of town for a day on the beach and to do some hiking were quickly canceled for fear of our safety. Once again, I was faced with questions and concerns. Horrific images of societal unrest pulled at my heart, and frustration that humans could be so violent towards each other left me feeling depleted. Can’t we all just get along? I asked, pointing out the fact that we are all human beings. What seems obvious to me, however, I know isn’t so obvious to others. In an attempt to salvage some peace of spirit, I turned off FaceBook and silenced the radio. I didn’t want to hear anymore, but even that came with a heavy burden – did that make me part of the problem? Self-doubt joined the negative feelings, threatening to push me down the dark slide of hopelessness.
Resigned to do the best I could in my little corner of the world to show kindness and respect to others instead of taking it upon myself to fix the planet, I took the first step at counteracting the dive into depression.
But then another change came, this one in my very home. My daughters, after 17 years of sharing a room, had decided it was time to go separate ways. There had been talk of this on and off for a year but nothing was done, and so I didn’t think much on it….until packing started. This past week, my oldest girl moved into her dad’s spare bedroom, leaving her sister to rip up carpet, paint, and decorate to her taste. I was not prepared for my emotional response.
Everyone, including me, had expected tears and sappy sentimentality, as I did for various milestones, but instead I felt bitter anger. I was angry at their dad for allowing this to even be an option, after all, if we hadn’t divorced there would be no extra room to move into. I was mad at the girls for not pushing through this desire for independence. I felt that this was all an unnecessary change when things had worked well for all these years. I didn’t understand my reaction, and this unnerved me, so I began my usual self analyzing to uncover the root of the problem.
As I stripped through the layers, one thing kept fueling my upset – she had chosen him over me. As illogical as this sounded, it was what my “mommy” heart perceived and what was feeding the anger and the hurt. There was some echo of the past that stemmed from when our family dynamics first changed. With this epiphany of understanding I now had the means of changing my depressed state of mind. I acknowledged my feelings and then I chose to lay them to rest because such negativity can only lead to harm.
Now, if you have read this far, you’re most likely wondering, why I have written all of this? What does it have to do with you, or anything for that matter? The world is ending, the planet and its inhabitants are going crazy, and I’m talking about my kid moving out. So what?! I’m getting to the point, bear with me.
In four jammed pack months, all that we know and understand has been brought to question in a rather forceful way. It is easy to give into anger, frustration, hurt, and depression and lash out because of these emotions. But despite having a right to feel the way you do, it is not an excuse to be less of a human being. I have skulked about for several days since my daughter has moved, and this has been like a wet blanket on every family gathering, and I didn’t like that. So, I took control, searched my soul to understand why, and then with that understanding, resolved to move forward and leave the wet blanket out to dry. I made a choice in how to respond to a situation, a choice that we are all provided with.
Life is anything but predictable. There will always be events and happenings that upset us, but that does not mean emotions and circumstances have to control us. I get to choose how to respond.
So yes, there is still a virus at large, racism in the world, and my daughter in another house, but that doesn’t mean I need to go grumpily about my business or worrying over the “what if’s.” Instead, I will continue to practice healthy behavior, treating all people with respect and kindness, and celebrate this new phase in my children’s lives. Why? Because I can. And I have to say, that the change in my spirit was felt almost immediately.
What are some things bothering you? Why does it bother you? What of the situation can you control and what is beyond your reach? Most importantly, what will you choose to focus on? You may not like the answer to all of these questions, but it may help you become a person you do like.