Let me preface this by saying, our story ain’t over yet.
It’s been a love-hate, make-you-nauseous, rollercoaster kind of relationship. (I'm talking one of those rickety, old, wooden rollercoasters that feels like it could fall apart at any minute while you're on it.) We’ve had our ups and downs and loop-d-loops. Some of the transitions have been a slow and steady climb, rising to a peak where I can see magnificent views beyond my local perception. Other sections of the track have had me plummeting, screaming at the top of my lungs, and holding on for dear life.
Now I'm a lil nerdy, so naturally I tracked my mental state(s). As you can see, it's messy and chaotic and the correlations don't seem to make sense. THIS IS WHAT COVID DOES!
Here's an overview:
You know that feeling when you meet someone new and you get the feeling they’re a little bit dangerous, but you choose only to see the best of them? You’re scared of the potential havoc they could wreak on your life but you overlook the red flags in favor of the potential “happily ever after.” The mere thought of them makes you feel weak, you have trouble breathing, and you’re starting to sweat.
No, wait… those are actual symptoms of the virus, so PLEASE contact a doctor if your symptoms don’t start to improve after three days.
Well this is how it started out for me and Viddy. I felt anxious but optimistic. Sure; I lost my job, any foreseeable income, and my long-awaited travel plans were canceled. BUT. Now I had the time and energy I’d been so desperately craving! I could finally work on other projects that had been on the back burner; projects that would get me closer to achieving my goals, that my previous employment had depleted my energy for. Silver linings!
Week One: the honeymoon phase. Uncertain how long this would last (for once in my life, I was only looking for a short fling), I wanted to optimize our time together. I felt creative, motivated, and driven. I was determined to stay positive and see the good that was coming from Viddy’s presence in my life. I implemented a virtual format to my wellness work, I tackled overdue projects for my website, created a throwback music video, and connected more with my social network than I have in years. I watched all the wellness videos that were thrown at me and signed up for three personal development courses. I had major A-HA moments. I observed several discoveries about myself and was excited about the lessons I was already learning. I was thriving!
Week Two was bumpy, to say the least. April 1 was fast approaching and I was very worried about paying rent. I felt anxious and overwhelmed, but was reassured by a few people in my circle that I would be okay. Even though I was still anxious, I knew I had a lot to be thankful for and focused on my gratitude. I was still moving forward with my projects, but my pace slowed considerably. The constant computer time was getting to me and I found that staring at a screen for several hours per day was not sustainable.
While navigating this "new normal," my beloved fur baby of 12+ years (who’d made a cameo appearance in Week One’s music video), wasn’t eating normally. I tried several different foods to stimulate his appetite, but nothing worked. It was agonizing to see him decline and to feel so helpless. After a distressing vet appointment, I made the brutal decision to put my baby, Taye, to sleep.
Even through this, I had much to be grateful for. Obviously, the timing for my only housemate to pass couldn’t have been worse, and there were moments that I didn’t think I could face it alone (Viddy is not the supportive partner I’ve been seeking). Thankfully, a couple of very dear friends showed up for me in ways that I did not expect and will never forget. The fears I’d had during an anxiety attack two days prior were alleviated by the acts of these friends, without them even knowing the extent to which they soothed my heartache. I can only describe it as grace.
As I was heartbroken and raw, Viddy was triumphant and arrogant. Viddy dragged me kicking and screaming into Week Three. Still grieving Taye, I was at least able to find a modicum of peace. I gradually felt less emotional, but still very heavy-hearted and unable to find my smile. I reminded myself that countless others have lost human loved ones to Viddy and that I have so much to be grateful for. I continued working on my projects and engaging with my loved ones, but even that started to feel overwhelming.
Ever since Viddy crept into my life, I knew it would be vital to stay connected and to be more involved online; particularly because I know as a Platonic Touch Practitioner how important it is to feel connected with others. In Week One, I had video chatted with friends, had old-school phone conversations (my least favorite thing), Zoom’d, Marco Polo’d, texted, posted, and shared it all through the amazing modes that technology affords us. However, by Week Three I was drowning. All the social check-ins, combined with all the news, press conferences, TV marathons (“Tiger King” anyone?), memes, mindfulness videos, free courses, live-streaming workouts, virtual meetings, etc. had gotten to be too much. I started to feel engulfed by all the things I should be doing and how I should be spending my time; even all the social check-ins were having an adverse effect. The constant notifications were anxiety inducing and I couldn’t decide where to put my focus. I had started out emphatically connecting with others in Week One, but by the end of Week Three with Viddy, the pendulum swung drastically in the opposite direction. Like any other controlling partner, Viddy gradually began to isolate me by more than just the physical separation; Viddy drove an emotional wedge between me and the people I love.
One of the things that got me through my grief in Week Three was Liz Gilbert. I heard her in a TED Connects interview, aptly titled, “It’s Okay to Feel Overwhelmed. Here’s What to Do Next.” At the end of the interview, she shares her practice of writing Love letters with (not to) the divine Love within her (I interpret this as her higher self), who always responds with unwavering compassion. I adopted this practice, and it brings me much comfort. I’ve found that Viddy can’t touch the space within my consciousness where I connect to Love; I’m safe here.
Here’s another thing I keep coming back to from that interview: Liz said that people always tell her how they wish they could go on a meditation retreat the way she has, but they don’t have the time or resources. Liz responds in the interview, “Well, you got it! To learn how to be present with yourself means sitting in a lot of terror, sitting in a lot of anxiety, sitting in a lot of fear, sitting in a lot of shame, and being able to allow that, without having to resist it, without having to reach outside yourself for something to numb yourself with.”
This has been on my mind since I heard it and I feel in the marrow of my bones that I need to lean in. This time of social distancing is the opportunity to learn how to be completely present with myself without all the noise; without Viddy’s heavy-handed influence. I’m naturally an introvert and my home is warm and inviting; perfect for my own mini-meditation retreat! Mine will be my own version of course, doing mindful activities in addition to stillness meditation, but it will be 100% “unplugged.” I’ve blocked out a 24-hour stretch between Zoom meetings for a tech detox and
I. CANNOT. WAIT!
I don’t know when or how this tumultuous affair with Viddy will end. It’s been quite a rollercoaster. Though we’ve finally settled in and are cruising at a steady speed for the time being, I’m ready to get off this ride. As with any relationship, I will choose to take the lessons with me and leave the rest. Who will I be when the ride stops? I’m ready to find out.
To be continued...
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