There’s so much I’m longing to say but there’s nothing to decide. If we’re lucky they’ll make a mistake and let you stay by my side. But it’s a long, long way to night.A Long Way To Night – Joan Shelley
Forewarning, this post isn’t the most uplifting or inspiring but I did put some of my sarcasm and humor throughout so in the words of Dane Cook, I did my best. So, here it is anyway.
Getting through this pandemic has been more difficult than I anticipated. I go through an array of emotions in a day and it’s not always smooth sailing. I’m sad/disconnected, frustrated, and a little fearful about how this will affect my future. Things are upside down and I’m not okay with it.
And if social media wasn’t already grueling enough, it is truly not the “place” for me to spend my time right now. I know people only post the 1% of their lives where everything is perfect and do not dare post about their shadow self, but it’s difficult to see those who seem to have taken all of this by storm. I read a post the other day from an old work acquaintance and she emphasized how she’s taken this time in quarantine to focus on her mental and physical health, to transform herself, and to make significant changes in her life – making home cooked meals, working out everyday sometimes more, reading books for leisure, etc. I see posts from my schoolmates about how they’ve taken this time to focus inward, engage in self-care practices and find inner peace. For as many posts as I’ve seen with those who are sharing their struggle or posting humorous/truthful memes about their quarantine lives, my brain only focuses on posts that highlight what others are doing that I am not or that I am not doing in the right way.
I see these posts and immediately start tearing myself down: wow…these people are genuinely making the most out of this time. They are getting healthy and fit, they are focused on their mental/emotional well-being, and they are truly coming out of this quarantine a better person than when this whole thing started. Why am I not doing that too? I should be doing more. Look at her, she looks great – she’s working out, eating healthy, and has already read several books for fun while I’m here, doing nothing, not being productive, sitting on the couch, and have barely read 5 chapters of a book I’ve been wanting to read for years. I’m not doing anything and what I am doing isn’t enough.
I know my inner voice is lying to me and ignoring reality to belittle myself. When I stop and think about it, I want to smack myself upside the head. I’ve done things!! So, what the hell am I even bitching about? Since this quarantine started, I’ve been biking more than I have been in my whole life, I’ve been stretching everyday and doing QiGong more often than before. I’ve been meditating regularly, I’ve been singing and playing guitar more frequently, and I started up with my photography again. I’ve also been cooking truly nutritious and creative meals (and actually enjoying it). Yet, my brain is telling me I’m not doing enough and that what I am doing isn’t as good as what other people are doing.
Why am I comparing myself to others? Half the people I compare myself to aren’t even important in my life! Really, I should be comparing myself to myself! Is the person I am today better than who I was the day before? Am I doing better today than I was yesterday? When I think of it that way, the answer is, of course, yes! Plus, I continue to try. Hell, the fact that I’m writing this blog post right now proves that. A truly shocking fact and a glaring sign of my improvement – a few days ago, I poured myself a glass of NA wine, literally took a couple sips and poured the rest back in the bottle because I genuinely didn’t want any. If that’s not me being a better version of myself, I don’t know what is. I also decided after talking with my academic advisor that I would begin my doctorate two trimesters early alongside my masters. Classes started this week, I’m taking 20.5 credits total, I’m already a month and a half ahead on homework in one class and a month ahead in another not because I like homework or anything but because I like to get things done and out of the way. Yet again, part of me still feels like I’m not enough.
I guess all of this comes down to how I view myself. The image I hold of myself. And while it’s improved immensely since I’ve quit drinking, it’s something I consistently work on. I’ve mentioned on this blog numerous times how much improvement I’ve made with my levels of self-respect, self-esteem, and self confidence. But, times are rough and it’s taking a toll on me. I’ve been feeling extremely insecure, for what reason I’m not exactly sure. I feel my insecurities are affecting my relationship with Josh and that scares me. I’ve been working on not being so critical of myself especially during these times. I’m trying not to compare myself to others. I don’t know what it even is I am striving for? When will it be enough? When will I be enough for myself?
It doesn’t help that since this pandemic hit, I’ve been unable to physically occupy the same space with my fellow classmates and faculty. Even though I “see” them online during class, it is 100% not the same. The main focus of our work deals with energy – energy within the body, energy interactions from one person to another, and the energy out in the world. And we all know the energy out in the world is struggling. But what’s worse for me is that seeing my classmates virtually strips us of the feeling, the vibe, and the energy that we create together as a class. It’s difficult to describe in words but for those of you who have ever participated in a sport, dance, theater, etc., anything where you’ve been a part of a team and had to huddle up right before the game/show/concert, you’ll understand what I mean. There’s an energy among the team that everyone feeds off of, it’s palpable. It’s an energy that gives you drive, motivation, and purpose. Not being able to have that with my classmates and faculty is truly devastating for me. Things are different and I can’t live my life and pursue my passion in the quite the same way right now and that’s rough. But I do know it’s not gone completely. I remind myself why I am in school, why I chose to practice this medicine, and knowing my cohort is full of support and encouragement.
It also doesn’t help that Josh and I had a rough couple of days recently due to a complete meltdown on my part which both totally sucked and felt like a weight lifted. It’s especially frustrating in those situations because I feel like they boil down to communication which is something we’ve talked about at length. I don’t think of myself as an insecure person in the slightest but these feelings emerge when I feel like we aren’t communicating. And I mean honest, open communication even about things that aren’t a big deal or may not even be important but it’s still communication. It’s the roadblock Josh and I hit over and over again. I don’t need to know about every little thing, that would be exhausting. But when I specifically ask into something and I don’t get a direct answer or it’s a vague answer, a million stories flood my head and usually aren’t accurate. Which causes stress in me over something that otherwise would have been brushed over.
I’ve been in a bad way the past several days. I contemplated several times about going on medication again. Why the hell am I even considering medication again? Well, let’s see….2020 has been complete shit show so far: my schooling has flipped totally upside down, in 6 weeks I lost two friends and my uncle who was one of the most important people in my life, the craziness with this pandemic hit, the fucking political climate sucks, and I’ve been dealing with other general personal difficulties. I haven’t been able to receive acupuncture treatment, my therapy has been on hold because of extraneous circumstances, I can’t be around my friends as school, my other friends who normally visit by now can’t be here, my town is struggling by the minute and we can’t interact with the general population in the same way as before. No wonder I feel so fucking bad. I am not doing as well emotionally as I want to believe I am and I’ve been attempting to deal with all of this on my own which obviously doesn’t work very well. I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach or I feel like my body is completely hollow. It’s strong enough that sometimes it obscures my “vision” and I feel like I no longer have a purpose. The feeling of not having purpose takes me back to before I got sober. It takes me back to a time where I had no motivation, no passion, and no control. Where everyday was groundhog day because I couldn’t end that cycle of destruction. Well, groundhog day is back, I have no fucking clue what day it is and it’s going to be a little while longer until it stops. It is an extremely difficult time for everyone.
The fact is everyone’s entire world has been flipped upside down, no ones experience is exactly the same, the words “we’re all in this together” don’t mean shit, it’s a miracle we haven’t all completely lost our minds yet (even though sometimes it feels as though we have). But it’s not groundhog day forever. I know in my heart things will get better. Things will get back on track. But for right now, that’s not the way things are.
So, to end this post in a way that isn’t completely pessimistic, I’ll say this….in the end, some days are okay and some days are not and that’s okay. I’m so far ahead of where I started and I still have a long way to go. We are all navigating our way through this and for me, the thing that keeps me going is know that I am trying. So, I’ll continue trying and that’s all I can really do for the moment. And I guess, when I think about it, the fact that I am trying is enough for now.
And fun fact! I’m 19 months sober today and even though everything else sucks, my sobriety certainly doesn’t.