Secretly, I enjoyed the slowness of life during the quarantine in 2020. I didn’t feel rushed or over-scheduled. However, since life has resumed since July 2021, I feel like a chicken with its head cut off. Although, if I am honest, I don’t want life to go back to the way it was, I want to see something different, including systemic change.
Society does not feel sustainable with the way things are right now. I am overwhelmed and anxious, depressed and sad. On top of that, I’ve experienced a lot of grief and loss. Thankfully, no one close to me has passed away, but I’m sharing another type of loss, the loss of community.
For over 40 years, I have attended the Christian church. Every week, I went to a church building to hear a sermon and served. My church family contained friends and mentors. Last year during the pandemic, I was pretty disappointed with the behavior of many churches. Whether they were denying Covid, staying silent against racial injustice but loud against keeping people safe from the pandemic, seeming to dislike anyone who wasn’t a white heterosexual evangelical male, and supporting Trump, I couldn’t take it anymore. My immediate family and I left. We all felt a sense of relief. However, I have come to terms with that I lost community. I lost support. And only one person has reached out to me to see how I am after ten years of being at the same church. When our tithing stopped, so did their contact with us.
When we think of grief, we tie it with the death of a person or our beloved pets. But losing relationships with friends, family, or a community feels just as deep. Last month, I felt suicidal. I have felt deep depression or anxiety but never the thought of suicide. I was scared to feel such intense feelings. I had nightmares every night for ten straight days leading up to that day. I have had excruciating back pain for the last month. I went off social media to try to calm myself down. But, my body is keeping score. My body is letting me know I am not well.
Besides feeling grief, I lost the desire to write. I feel I don’t have a way, a style, or about a specific topic. But, I know I express myself better when I write. I haven’t made it a priority either since I feel stuck. Also, my parents stopped speaking to me for over three months because I held firm on my boundaries. No one tells you when you finally enforce boundaries; you don’t feel as good as you think you would. You realize the person you hold firm against also chooses not to respect them. Thankfully, my parents reached out to me due to the holidays, and we had a peaceful meeting with the family. While the issues are not solved, I know I can protect myself and leave at any time.
I have experienced anxiety for so long; it feels like a part of me. Yet, I still get mad at myself; when I am in line at the grocery store and overcome such intense physical sensations, I want to drop everything and leave. Or when I have to confront someone or speak up to get something (asking to correct a wrong food order), I feel myself shake. Then, I would hold my breath until I almost passed out or hurry through whatever I was doing to get to a safe place.
I had to feel it all from my last panic attack and not fight it. Finally, I could excuse myself from the situation, close a door and just let the emotions and physical feelings happen. I breathed my way out of it, and slowly the feelings went away. Then I could try to see what my resources are now or if I had to let it go for that moment. All those years, I fought the feelings and stuffed them farther down. I ended up worse for wear.
Today, I saw this post from NICABM (National Institute for the Clinical Application for Behavioral Medicine):
The Instagram post explained many of my situations. I overestimated the danger with my thoughts but never considered that I had resources. This formula is not a one-size-fits-all for anxiety. But for those who catastrophize many situations, this can help bring down the charge.
My hope for 2022 is to find connections, develop gratitude, focus on my health, and keep things simple. May this new year redeem much of what we have lost.