I was listening to Esther Perel’s Covid-19 series, called “Love, Loss, and Lonliness Under the Lockdown,” and she referred to this time of Covid, as “The Great Adaptation.” Running solo during this epidemic has been eye opening and educational in so many ways, but her series helped crystalize my perspective. Here are three of my biggest takeaways from the past 8 weeks of lockdown.
Being Alone Isn’t Bad
Being alone is a good thing, and quiet and solitude are great teachers. Jung, Thoreau and Marcus Aurelius all knew the power of these, even when juxtaposed to a busy and demanding life. I used to hate being alone and even as a recovering codependent, that wasn’t limited to people. The idea of being alone with my thoughts was unsettling, and I was a master of distraction, long before my smartphone. As a lifelong “giver,” I found taking care of others easier than confronting my own healing. Despite my healing journey of several years, Covid-19 has been like the BUDS version of self growth. (For those of you unfamiliar with BUDS, it stands for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school and is the highly competitive US Navy Seal training program that only 30% of people graduate. It’s an elite and grueling, war fighter training course, to prepare you for the challenges of Navy Seal life.) We have all been thrown into a global master class on self reflection, and I have learned more about myself in the past 2 months, than ever before. All the places I have been slow walking “the work,” have returned to test me. All the loose ends I avoided tying for fear of loss, all the relationships that don’t serve me, and all the grief I never allowed myself to fully sink into, are here at the same time. It feels kinda like National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation where the entire family shows up and you have to do the mental gymnastics and determine where to focus your efforts. I never would have discovered these things without the gift of mandatory solitude and lots of time alone to reflect.
You can do hard things
I imagine a tiny bear hug from the incredible and wise Glennon Doyle, saying, “Sweetie, you got this. You can do hard things.” One after another, I let go of mental crutches, in lieu of learning and growth. I feel like an emotional Tiny Tim, tossing my imaginary crutches on the ground in celebration, yelling “YESSS!!! Take that, self-doubt.” I have been studying the moments where I reach for distraction, instead of sitting in feelings of grief, loss and loneliness, and allow the uncomfortable stuff to move through me. Don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of Snappy McCranky Pants moments, but I’m better able to stop and get curious, rather than project it all over others, like a firehouse filled with burning disinfectant. I have learned to enjoy the comfort of my home with nothing more than my dog, a bottle of kombucha and some killer tunes, instead of seeking the comfort of a loud restaurant and wine. Most of all, I have been able to draw myself out of my individual experiences, allowing myself to witness things happening around me, with an even greater sense of compassion. I have noticed this the most at the office, where I’m observing the way people are operating around me. We are all doing hard things right now and some things are harder than others. We all have a story and our own battles to fight, but we all have them, and knowing that makes kindness and grace so much easier.
I’m More Resilient That I Knew
I have learned I am more resilient than I ever imagined. I have been on a modified lockdown for about 8 weeks. In that time, I have barely left the house, except for the rare refresh of ginger beer (which I can now make myself) and to walk my dog. I have found ways to secure the food I need locally, without having to depend on farmers’ markets and grocery stores. I have learned to reach out and connect with the ones that are closest to me, and I have also learned to be more resourceful than I ever have been in my life. Who has two thumbs, made her own chocolate from actual cacao pods AND created a budget? This girl! In the face of bad news from family, friends and everywhere else, I have found a place of poise within myself, and I witness the person this pandemic is creating within me, with remarkable pride. I’m not only resilient to the dramatically changing environment around me, but I am being forced to make hard decisions for myself and those around me, whilst letting go of attachment to those outcomes. This is not only creating resilience, but a VERY hard thing for me to do, so double check. All these threads weave together in an emotional tapestry, preparing me to weather future storms with even more patience, calm and kindness.
It’s easy to do all these things in the necessity of the moment, but the real test is what we continue to cultivate and nourish, long after we don’t have to wear masks and can hug others freely. Like the name to mark this time in the human experience, I continue my own “great adaptation.” I continue to challenge myself to live differently. Just as the global pandemic has forced us all to pause, slow down and connect more deeply, I’m using this as a lesson in how to be a better friend; not only to to those I care about, but myself. I have learned how to prune my relationship trees and cut off bad relationship branches no longer serving me or leaving me feeling desiccated and less than nurtured. I’m learning how to ask for help and give it, when I recognize it is needed. I’m settling into the power I have and how I can use that for good, along with accepting the things I cannot control and detaching from those outcomes. All of these things make me a better human for myself and those around me, and for that opportunity, I am truly grateful. Sending love to all beings out there.