Oof. Here we are, more than 4 months into staying home, staying 6 ft away from everyone, and for me, staying in a near-constant state of anxiety about both the present and the future.
To avoid spiraling, I have been perpetually looking for small silver linings.
One silver lining was the chance recently to Facetime with an old friend, he was my saving grace at my first job out of college. The type of friend where your bond feels tight forever because it was forged in adversity. But I hadn’t spoken to him in ten years. So we had a lot to talk about.
As we caught up and a chit-chatted, he asked me how a family member was doing. And so, in about 3 minutes, I described what had happened over the last ten years. Many of these data points were incredibly painful at the time. These events represented times I had felt huge feelings, of sadness and anger and fear. But here I was, rattling them off. After I finished, I said it was so strange to have done that, these are things so hard at the time… and now they’re just stories.
He is sweet and wise and suggested maybe that is how to think of hard things, even in the moment. What will this story be? And to know, even in the moment, that someday this can just be a story. Different tough periods have run through my head since, my eldest in the NICU, breakups, toxic work environments, health issues. Periods where the feelings, the hurt, the fear were so visceral… but time and perspective have since woven those tough times into stories.
These stories are not glib. The story of this year will always include huge loss, fear, and sadness. Personally and communally, we have lost so much in the last several months. We have lost loved ones, stability, income, the opportunity to go to in-person school. Everyone has lost something, but some families have lost far more than others. We started out in this together, but quickly our experiences diverged.