No question, we live in a challenging time. I’ll admit I’ve struggled mightily to cope with the pandemic and all the changes it’s brought to daily life. Sometimes I can stay on top of it; other times, the strange new world wins.
Like in the wee hours of Tuesday morning?
It’s not good for 9-year-olds to get up at 3:30 AM, ya know.
Busted again by Lily and 9. It wasn’t like I planned it, you guys. I stayed up reading until 11 that night. For some reason my mind and body were really, really tense and it took a while to fall asleep. Then, at 3:30 AM:
This is Friday’s fuddled, geriatric way of telling me he’s hungry, kind of cute during the daytime but when it pulls you from a restless sleep? Yanked back into the strange new world, I turned on the light, pounced out of bed and yelled at him.
That was pretty mean of you.
I know, 9, and I still feel horrible about it. Friday shied away, his huge, yellow eyes anchored on me. I raged and muttered and stumbled into the kitchen, rattled more kibble into his dish, and abruptly started screaming.
It sounded like you were being murdered.
I lunged back into bed, curled into a ball and pulled the blankets over my head to muffle my uproar before the neighbors called 911. I screamed and screamed and screamed until my throat was raw, then cried, my sobs punctuated by the faint crunch of cat kibble. It felt good to let all of that- -whatever it was- -go.
Maybe if you knew what it was- –
Isolation, 9. That’s most of it. The only time I’d seen people (live and in person) in the past 10 days was when I was buying something.
At least it’s a time of year when you need to do more shopping. You know, Christmas?
Yes! What are you getting me?
That’s a surprise, 9, you have to wait until the 25th. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it a blog or two ago, that this year holidays make me feel superfluous. It’s silly, I know, and I fully understand that it’s highly important to for all of us to stay home for the holidays this year to slow the spread of COVID-19. We’re probably all grieving about this, missing get-togethers, and special community and cultural events. But that isn’t the whole thing. The whole thing has taken months for me to figure out.
The magic key is a book I’m currently reading, Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It’s a memoir, with a central theme that is concisely represented thus:
“The truest, most beautiful life never promises to be an easy one. We need to let go of the lie that it’s supposed to be.”
Her words struck me so powerfully I wrote them in my journal the night prior to my screaming attack. Maybe I didn’t want what she’d written to be true, but the more I thought about it the more true it seemed. I was fighting the strange new world; even though I realize nothing stays the same, even from minute to minute, I don’t want it to be that way.
You want to be like us, forever 14 and 9.
You’re hardly ever wrong, Lily, but no, that’s not what I want, either. After a restless night, verbally abusing a senior citizen feline and screaming until my throat was raw, the pieces started to settle. Later that day I realized this strange new world is supposed to be upside-down. Pandemic, isolation, holiday blues: this is not the problem. The problem is, I’d stopped experiencing life. I was working so hard to resist the world around me that my emotions were dying.
The screaming was the start of my emotional rebirth.
Bear with me, 9. By the end of the day I wrote this in my journal:
My job is to hang on and experience the ride, enjoyable or not. I’m willing to leave some space for “enjoyable” to occur.
I did not create this strange new world. It is not my job to fight it or fix it. Right now the important thing is to adapt, to cope, to make it to the other side.
And to be ready when, second by second, the next strange new world comes.