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On gratitude, grief, and keeping it real during Covid-19

This weekend was hard. It wasn’t ‘worst weekend ever’ hard but it was ‘I am getting really tired of this‘ hard. I am fed up. I am sick of social isolation, Covid-19, and all of the anxiety it brings. I am frustrated. I miss my kids, I miss my friends, and I want nothing more than to do what I normally do when I feel sad, which is to go out for a nice dinner with my fiance. I want to hug my people. I want to go to work. And I never thought I would say this but I want to wear something other than sweatpants.

(I know what you’re thinking, “So dress up, Christine! Dress for the social life you want, not the one you have.” To which I will say, thanks but no thanks. I tried that. Turns out, my dress pants have gotten a little snug as a result of too many quarantine nachos and let’s face it, a good pair of joggers are just plain comfy which is pretty much all we have right now. So I will retract that last statement … I ALMOST want to wear something other than sweatpants.)

It took me a couple of days to recognize the feeling in my chest. I am no stranger to grief and that heaviness that it brings is unlike no other. My energy was low, I was irritable, and my focus was non-existent. Even walking up my short flight of stairs or completing simple tasks like unloading the dishwasher seemed daunting. There was no doubt about it, out of nowhere, my sunny covid-19 outlook that I had written about just last week was gone, and it had been replaced with melancholy.

In addition to feeling melancholy, I was pissed off with myself. I mean, come on. I am not a nurse working the front lines or a cashier dealing with anxious people all day. I am not a small business owner struggling to stay afloat or wondering if I will even have a business left when this is over. I still have a job. My family is safe. And I have ample resources available to me. And yet here I was sulking because I have to stay at home, eat quarantine nachos, and zoom call my friends. Are you freaking kidding me, Christine?!

I was embarrassed to be slipping into a pity-party when there are so many people out there who are actually struggling right now. Perspective is something that is so important to me, as is gratitude, and I felt like I was failing.

But then I had a realization (a perk of social isolation is that you have more time to think), … what if it doesn’t have to be one or the other? What if I can be grateful AND sad all at the same time? What if I can maintain a healthy perspective and still feel overwhelmed by all of the uncertainty right now? What if one does not negate the other?

Here is the deal, we are dealing with something right now that has quite literally rocked the entire world. There is a lot of anxiety and stress and uncertainty and it all hit very quickly – we are allowed to have an emotional reaction to that. Is it important to maintain perspective and stay focused on gratitude? YES! But are we allowed to miss our friends, worry about the future, and have a down day? Also, YES!

This is not an either or situation. We might have days where we feel on fire and our productivity is through the roof. And then we might have days where we get nothing done at all. We might have days when we engage with our kids, play board games, and eat nutritious meals as a family. And then we might have days where screen time is unlimited and quarantine nachos are where it’s at. There might be days where finding joy and gratitude comes easily, and others that are filled with frustration and tears.

It is all okay. And sometimes, it might change hour to hour.

It is important to use the tools we have so that we can make it through this with some semblance of normalcy, or at the very least, our sanity. And practicing gratitude and perspective is imperative (because dammit, we ARE so freaking blessed). But we are also allowed to grieve. We are allowed to be sad, miss our friends, and have days where all we accomplish is a netflix marathon.

We WILL get through this, friends. I promise. Use the tools you have, rock the sweatpants, practice gratitude, and allow yourself to grieve.

You are allowed to feel ALL the feelings right now.

-Christine