I’m writing this on Good Friday, almost three weeks into lock down, which I’ve been seeing through alone.
It has been a bizarre experience. The shock and uncertainty compounded onto a number of Life Challenges I already had on the table, and suddenly there was no room for anything other than panic.
My experience was initially very much dominated by my ego. Long before the lock down came in, I was going through a separation with a partner who I had been with for almost three years. That experience in itself was difficult, stressful and a big upheaval. In addition to that, at the end of January I put in an offer on a property that was accepted. I was obviously very excited about this but also holy moly people are not lying when they say getting on the property ladder is one of the most stressful things you can ever do.
The lock down came in just before I could reach the exchange of contracts stage of my property transaction, so everything is now on hold. It has meant that I have had to stay in the flat I’ve been gearing up to leave for three months. Luckily my ex-partner has been living at a friend’s house while I wait for the sale to go through, so we’re not in lock down together. That could have been very difficult for both of us. It also hasn’t stopped me from at times wishing they had moved back in, because at the beginning of this dealing with the fear and stress alone felt impossible.
The sudden and indefinite pause on My Big Plan felt like a personal affront at first. The universe was out to scupper my plans and to stop me from getting what I want, of course it was! Wait…
It has been frightening to accept that the process is completely out of my control. It has been hard to accept that I’ve got to now live amongst memories I am feeling ready to forget. I have had to really dig deep for some inner strength to help me endure the constant I Am Completely Alone feeling, and to accept that whilst this is uncomfortable, I can tolerate it. I’ve got to tolerate it.
Slowly, I was able to get my ego to calm down and to see things a little more clearly.
I started to focus on what I needed. Basic things like enough sleep, water and greens. Exercise; I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, a lot of pilates and getting out for a run or walk each day. That’s not driven by hoping to emerge looking like a goddess. That is simply what I need to maintain good mental health.
I’ve learned to appreciate how lucky and privileged I am. I haven’t lost my job like some people have, I’m not trapped in a dangerous situation like some people are, I have a support network, which some people don’t.
Yesterday, a friend mentioned the word ‘resilience’ to me when we were talking about the experience of lock down and it got me thinking. I don’t necessarily think that resilience is what we need in order to get through this (although it definitely helps). I think that we’ll all leave this experience with a lot more of it than we had before.
Resilience for me is a bit like core strength; it’s something you build very slowly over time and you often don’t notice any difference until years have passed.
I think some other ‘things’ we’ll gain from this after it has passed are fortitude, acceptance and tolerance. I feel this can only be a good thing and our collective behavioural norms may be a little softer and gentler when we are eventually in a position to go back to normal.
Normal; strange concept now isn’t it?