1 April 2020 — The COVID Diaries: Staying Sane in a Time That’s Not

 

Dear Diary,

I SHOULD NOT HAVE TOLD YOU I’VE BEEN SLEEPING LATELY. I didn’t knock on wood which was FOOLISH, so the Universe used this day, April Fool’s, to remind me I chose poorly.

I tempted the Fates, and the Fates, as they are wont to be, were unkind.

I woke up at midnight. I had to pee. I was awake again at 1. I had a pounding headache. I was awake from 2-4am concurrently. I wandered around the house. I took medicine. I drank water. I ate pumpkin bread in bed. I did not brush my teeth post-pumpkin-bread. I read Patricia Briggs. I looked on the Book of Faces. I contemplated life and death and stress and authenticity like the Little Bundle of Nerves I am these days. 

Today, I am tired.

Also, sad.

Exhaustion makes it a little less possible to push away my feelings. Which, I suppose, is a benefit of exhaustion.

I usually like to eat my feelings. They taste like cheese. Sometimes like ice cream. Today, they just taste like green tea with a little honey, though, because I’m trying to learn to sit with my feelings. To actually feel them. This is the effort of a lifetime for people like me who prefer to push through and past feelings. To distract ourselves with infinite tasks and the tyranny of the urgent so we don’t have time for the discomfort of sorrow or grief or anger or pain. 

Now, though? I have All the Time. 

The structures and strictures of everyday life are gone. 

Life has been distilled, stripped of everything except the basics. The essentials. Family. Food. Refuge. The things that are the focus of much of the rest of the world day in and day out, but which I, in my privilege, mostly take for granted.

I notice my pursuit of the Latest News and Scrolling Facebook and trying to stay Up to Date are ways to fill the silence that unsettles me. They’re ways to take up space in my brain so I don’t sit and spin on the wondering and the what ifs. They’re ways to create noise and fill hours because I’d rather face facts and figures than uncertainty. The Not Knowing feels like a black hole, sucking me toward its infinite blackness with irresistible gravity. I fear it will crush me, so I boost my engines and point my ship in the other direction, caring little for which way I go as long as it’s AWAY and FAST. It’s the panic response. Very Lizard Brain in its potent desire to flee. 

We don’t know How Long this pandemic will last. Or What the Ramifications will truly be. Or How Our Lives are Changed Forever in ways we don’t yet understand and can’t fully comprehend. 

But our scrambling is just creating more noise. 

And the fleeing only delays the inevitable.

The black hole IS overwhelming — uncertain and unknown — but it’s also a wormhole. A gateway to a different place and a new future. It’s the dark tunnel through which we must journey to reach the next destination. The problem with wormholes, though, is that we must enter them on faith. No promises. No guarantees. 

We’re funny creatures, we humans. Especially those of us used to a certain level of safety and security. We get cocky, thinking we know the future. Thinking we’re the main effectors of change. Thinking we have far more influence than we do. So it’s a real disruption when we’re faced with the fact that the black hole was always there. The future was always uncertain. The pathways to our destiny always murky and opaque. 

We have control over the things we always controlled. How we love our neighbors. How we love ourselves. Whether we will be kind. Whether we will be generous. Whether the doors to our homes and our hearts lead to sanctuaries where we offer safety and succor for others and ourselves or jails where we imprison them. 

But we don’t control the wormhole. 

We’re not the gatekeepers to the future, try though we might.

And I’m not making any promises for how I might feel tomorrow, Diary. Or an hour from now. But for just this minute, I’m going to cut my engines. I’m going to quiet the noise. I’m going to let my ship drift.

I’m going to abandon the things I use as distraction and let the wormhole distract me, instead.

I’m going to feel its vastness. I’m going to look into its maw. I’m going to feel tiny beside it.  

I’m going to abandon the doing and the avoiding and the equally obsessive and futile pursuit to Know More. 

And for just for one quiet minute, I’ll drift toward the future. No rush. No buzz. 

Just me. Sitting in this space. 

With love, and waving in the dark, as always,

 

 

 

P.S. We’re still on our DnD campaign. Making progress. Today was only, like, 43% arguing amongst ourselves. 

The other 57% was campaigning and potty breaks.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It is what it is.

P.P.S. These two children are pretty much mirroring exactly how their mother feels:

 

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
5 comments
  1. I was awake from midnight to 4 AM this morning. So that’s like, 4 hours of sleep. I pray. I try to meditate (badly). I pray some more. I try to not think about how the world is nothing like I thought it would be. That black hole? Yeah, we’ve been looking at it for over 3-1/2 years with our youngest. Thank you for the reminder that it’s also a wormhole.
    Today was hard.
    Maybe I’ll sleep tonight. Maybe I won’t.
    Waving at you in the dark.

  2. Beth,
    Your story of running from feelings reminds me of Jonah running from what the Lord told him to do. His wormhole was the whale where he had to face his issues. No escaping them for him at that point. And here you are, bravely sitting there facing the demons of depression. I hope you know that there are many people who sit with you and anchor you to this place and not let you fall into the abyss.
    Waving back at you
    Dar!

  3. I had a telemed appt yesterday and got some new meds to help me sleep bc all the usual tricks aren’t working. But I’m/our family is still so far ahead of such a majority of people.
    Our oldest is a senior and all year I’ve been mentally/emotionally prepping for that huge change–one of my life’s works coming to a point of letting go. And now we don’t even know what’s that going to look like. Adjusting to change and adjusting to uncertainty– two of the things I’m worst at!
    I love that the first 2 pics are of happy kids and the second 2 are of over this kids.
    Yep, just gotta keep waving.

  4. So good. Ditto, my head matches yours. This comment reveals that my brain is mushy.

  5. You are so right that we love to feel we are in control.

    BTW, I’m sorry for your insomnia. I love sleep, and hearing about others’ difficulties with it makes me feel sad for them.

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