Processing My Pain of Early 2020

It’s early March, 2020. I’ve been wanting to post for a while now but had no inspiration. I typically write about faith and hope and bright outcomes after what feels like the end of my world as I know it.

And I’ve had nothing!!

Every day the news brings a new reality that shocks me to my core. The world news brings us new, unimaginable realities that comes with a virus pandemic….families are torn apart by loss, in others, abuse is bound to increase as work or school serves, which are a welcome escape for so many, cease to exist.

Job security, business losses, home schooling, can we be infected by the grocery delivery, Amazon deliveries or even the mail?

Anxiety is pervasive.

And on top of virus worries, we all have our own challenges that are happening right now!! Mine have ranged from anger at having personal belongings stolen during our move 2 weeks ago to feeling hopeless that our cats Goose & Cooper will ever be able to integrate peacefully with our other cats, Walter & Vinyl.

And so I’ve stayed busy. Luckily I have a whole house to unpack and organize, right?!? But the other day I realized I wasn’t processing my feelings. I was keeping myself busy in order to not cave in on myself.

And so I started slowing down. I started sitting quietly, meditating, and seeing what feelings would come up if I wasn’t so driven.

And I remembered. I remembered what I felt like when I found out I had kidney disease @ 28, and how my world felt when the Oklahoma City bombing happened and I found out the very next day my kidneys had failed. And then I remembered how I felt after 9/11 and again in 2006 when I suddenly found out I was getting a divorce. And the first day I was hooked to the dialysis machine for the next 3 1/2 hours that would continue every other day for the next 2 years.

All I wanted to do during each one of those experiences, and how I feel right now…
I wish I could wake up and find this was a dream.

It’s not a dream?
Ohmygosh it’s REAL?
EVERYTHING has changed? Stuff I took for granted and counted on is now different than it will ever be again.

THAT. That way of feeling.

It’s grief. That’s what’s pervasive for all of us now. It’s grief.

The stages of grief are real and there’s power in knowing about them and seeing where we are in them in a situation like this.

Self awareness is essential to recognize you’re in grief.

Something I learned long ago about awareness is to focus right now on what’s around you. Feel the countertop, is it cool or warm? How bout the steering wheel you’re clutching? What color is the chair next to the TV? If we can break things down and focus on what’s in front of us RIGHT NOW, we can do what every brilliant philosopher has recommended.

To stay present. To live in the moment.

In the end, we only have this exact moment. The past is over, the future hasn’t happened yet. So we only have the in IT. If we stay in THIS moment, anxiety fades. If we can just do NOW, it can stop us from worrying about what “might” happen.

About 20 years ago, I had the unequaled opportunity to hear one of the Andes plan crash survivors speak. There were thousands of people in the room and you could have heard a pin drop as the speaker presented.

Those guys were flying over a mountain range in South America to play a rugby match and their plane crashed on the top of a snowy mountain. What made them famous is they resorted to cannibalism (of those who died in the crash) in order to survive.

What made them famous for me was what they’d say to each other when they were filled with despair.
“Can you take one more breath?”

Doesn’t get more basic than that. Those people were living from breath to breath.

It’s the perfect illustration of staying exactly in the moment and how we can survive what seems impossible if we can do the same.

So as you feel your feelings, likely inflamed by the news & experiences of our world today, see if you can focus on the present moment to help steady fears and calm grief. Touch something. See something. Quiet down and feel how you’re feeling right now.

And then… Take. One. More. Breath.

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