So, how are you?
No, really – how are you?
Did you find January tough as old boots? It’s not my favourite month by any stretch. I knew it was going to be hard but didn’t realise it was going to be so rocky that my emotional track and trace would crash nearly every day.
I hesitate in saying it was a rollercoaster because those rides follow a predictable and defined track: Go, up, down, around, stop. Instead, it was one long weary haul with no end destination in sight. Plus the carriage was damp, cold, dark and no-one really knew who was controlling it.
Pre-pandemic life felt even more remote, not less so. I messaged a group of friends saying ‘Hey! This time last year we were all sat in a cafe together, laughing and talking and the virus didn’t even figure in our conversation!’
Then I realised how much I missed them and how much I miss the things I’d usually take for granted, yet remain unable to do now.
One minute I was full of good intent, the next I had to avoid anything – book, programme or film – most likely to make me emotional. Gratitude made me feel guilty, I couldn’t settle into anything and the thought of starting something new made me jittery. One day I felt as sturdy as a grand cathedral; the next, a ruin.
Why do I feel like this? I asked. I should be better able to handle it. I mean, it’s been nearly a year, right, so I should be used to this by now.
Except: no. It’s still hard. It’s still frightening. It’s still unpredictable. We have feelings of loss or bereavement and we’re dealing with hardship in one way or another. Maybe telling ourselves off for not being better at handling it isn’t making things, well, better.
Maybe we won’t ever get better at handling incertitude. Perhaps the best we can do is hang in there; let the feelings be rather than trying to let them go. Resting rather than remedying.
So that’s what we are doing now: moving through the feelings as they come and go because we know they do, and they will.
We’re focusing on the days knowing the weeks will take care of themselves. We’re getting to know our emotional ebb and flow and keeping our expectations low.
Whatever challenges we’re facing, the advance of spring and science shows us that brighter times will come.