The New Normal?

    My young child brain protected me well by allowing it to compartmentalize or separate my emotions and thinking. My values and behaviors were included to be tidily placed in dark little compartments stashed away in my mind. It’s a common coping mechanism for trauma victims to avoid the pain, anger and confusion that comes with abuse and traumatic experiences. If I can’t “feel” those emotions, then it’s easier to keep on going as if everything is just fine.

    It also allows me to avoid potential conflict, regardless of my own values that might be sacrificed, sometimes finding myself too close to dangerous situations, or putting off what might need to be faced and dealt with.

    Well into my adulthood I didn’t know there was a name for it. It was just ‘me”. I compartmentalize everything in my everyday life. I thought I was doing fairly well with recognizing when I needed to seriously face things head on in order to get through difficult situations. However much time it might take to do so!

    My environment, relationships, as well as things happening in the world all affect how well or unwell, I feel on the inside. When the Covid upheaval landed, 2 years ago this March, I felt the balance of my life was comfortable. I had a part time job working with kids where I found much satisfaction. As well as the adult side of the business attending meetings, socializing and contributing where I found confidence to do so. I also have a husband that supports anything I want to do, or not do!

    After spending 2 months down hard with Covid, I felt the need to question going back to the job. I still had plenty of time to think about it because the doors were closed anyway with no end in sight, at that time. It’s a common occurrence working with young kids to receive an instant mucous-y sneeze blast to the face at close range! I just could not fathom, every day, wondering if that was going to be the one to take me down again! In that setting, in “normal” times, somebody, staff or kids, have winter body virus issues going on! And we do share!

    Fast forward to today. I have processed the feeling of loss in giving up the job and what I got from it…and what I felt I gave. The available shots have been ingested. Living the isolated life, by choice, has been a challenge but at the same time…still dealing with it alright…or so I thought! Even to the point of not socializing in person with my friends. Always masking up and doing the social distance dance through stores. That’s after sanitizing the cart handles…a must for a germophobe anyway! All things I can control, to make me feel better.

    Enter, 3 weeks ago, in the mail I received a Jury Duty Summons. I had received 3 of them in my past and each one I had a legal reason to not commit. This time…there were none. The ironic thing is, each time in the past I got one, I had really wanted to do it! Instead, I got angry and scared.

    I looked at my facts. I have been readying to get my car in for a major overhaul in the near future, making it safely questionable for the distance and timing I would need to travel for this commitment. Buses are not a viable option for the area I live in. Oh and…public transport is not attractive anyway!  Another issue for me is…downtown where the Courthouse is, does not feel safe to me. I would be arriving in the dark with the possibility, depending on where I can find parking, I may have to walk through clearly questionable areas.

    Crime has blown up all over, including seriously in the suburbs, all around us. I feel the confidence I used to carry for handling myself on my own has taken a big hit. The fear of the latest raging of Omicron variant blasting through our county is real for me. I quit a job I loved, spent all this time doing what I can to avoid catching or passing on to others. There were a couple other personal reasons contributing to this pile as well.

    A few nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. I tossed and turned for a few hours then got up. I scanned what I was feeling and discovered I was, surprisingly, emotionally spinning out. I asked myself, “Is this what true anxiety feels like?” I was pacing around the house trying to get my feet on the ground. The feeling of anger to what I was expected to do was taking me down hard. I internally screamed out to the Universe…” Please, help me be strong to do this.” Mixed in was the bizarre state of our country headlines and my worries of where we are heading weaving around everything else. What was unusual for me was to feel so out of control as to feel all these emotions just blasting me from every corner.

    A few days ago, I finally turned to face this thing straight on. There was no getting out of it. My sweetheart of a husband took me down to the rental car office and got me set up with a car…showing me his support. He knew my struggle with the whole thing, and I know he would have done anything he could to make it stop for me.

    Today, I perused my closet looking for “casual office attire” for court, in my optimistic, its time, “I Can Do This…Lets Go” attitude. I was set for one day at a time…stay in the moment and do what I can. The rest will come as it will. There was 4 days before I had to show up.

    At 5:00 p.m. today, I called the courthouse as instructed for my group to check in and get pertinent information for our appearance at the beginning of next week. I was feeling more confident and ready for the inevitable. I was approaching it as a challenge of life and was even looking a bit forward to being a part of the process and wondered what I might bring to it myself. I listened to the recording and heard my appearance date. Then I heard “You are released from your commitment. This decision was made in part due to the rise in Omicron case numbers and our interest in keeping staff and court participants as safe as possible!”

    I had to listen to the recording twice then read it on the web site, then shared both sources with my husband to make sure what I heard and read was real! My relief was so surprisingly overwhelming as to feel warm tears popping out of my eyes. I felt the Universe had heard my torment with the whole thing. I simply felt grateful…so grateful. We don’t always get what we ask for…but sometimes we get what we need.

    It left me to recap the last 3 weeks and how it had affected me emotionally. I feel this summons might have been like the last straw on the camel’s back. Then I thought about people with far more crucial situations than mine and how they must be handling it all.

    There are some people close to me that appear to take things in stride and are going about their lives much “easier” than I am. I think their interpretation of things that are happening on many levels and how it pertains to them may be, to some degree, rolling off their backs. I also see them posting bits of their lives where they are “just getting on with it.” I know its an individual decision as to just how anyone decides to do this.

    My own children that have their own, as working parents, are increasingly becoming worn thin with the with the ups and downs of the nearly last 2 years. They are trying to keep their kids covered with the changes happening in schools and daycares as well as keeping their jobs at the same time.

    For me, I discovered my usual armor that protects me failed, and I went somewhere dark and dire. All the outside issues, Covid, scary politics, monitoring the latest updates as to what the hell we are supposed to be doing to protect ourselves with ever changing information. Even a trip to the grocery store has become unstable what with short stock and prices rising out of control.

    I keep so much inside myself, because normally, when its inside, it makes sense to me. In retreating to my safe home bubble, I have realized how much I have also retreated from my precious close friends. I believe we need each other, if nothing else to know that we are not alone. Relationships need to be fed by being close, even if it’s sharing a conversation on the phone. Its in my typing this that I remind myself to do just that!

    I hope that anyone that is feeling isolated and scared will find the strength to reach out for help. You are not alone in whatever you are feeling. There is always a way out and up!

    Written by jasmine@majickalgarden.com

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