Public Service Announcement: We will all return to shore in our own time. 

We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.

— Damian Barr (@Damian_Barr) April 21, 2020

Photo by Serena Wong on Unsplash

I’ve seen signs of “life” not witnessed, at least safely so, since just over a year ago. The above quote, repeated and memed in various iterations for months now really hit home for many a folk, and for good reason. We were all in completely different circumstances as darkness of isolation and uncertainty set in. I will not use my brain cells or readers’ time to rehash the ensuing events. I will, however, state that I have had numerous and varied emotions as things “appear” to be safe to reemerge. Here in Illinois the reported numbers are showing a positive trend. As that happens, businesses are starting to announce reopenings.

I am simultaneously excited and terrified by this. It signals a return to “normal”, and I had to grapple with my internal reactions to this.  I asked myself why this was creating such a cacophony of voices in my head.  The reason is this: in the #beforetimes, as in just a couple of months before, I was emerging from personal circumstances and traumas from which I had yet to fully heal. I had plenty of outlets to manage (or escape from) my emotions. Overnight, however, those same salves disappeared and I was left alone in a room, quite literally, with nothing but my emotions. I have had MONTHS to examine and reexamine under the most painful of microscopes my antecedent conditions, coupled with fresh and numerous pains through which to sort. I’m quite proud of myself for having not only held myself together but pushed forward, learning new skills, completing some goals, while also having fed, showered and groomed myself (covid poundage notwithstanding). 

Fast forward (in retrospect, the last year feels like a flash in the pan, no?) as things start to reopen, I realize in many ways I’m still reacting from some of those previous traumas (decades, really). Our minds have a way of trying to keep us safe by assessing every situation as harmful and can prevent us from moving forward out of fear.Some folks are chomping at the bit to get back to indoor dining, or hang out at their favorite bar, etc. But the landscape has changed. Shows aren’t open, some favorite venues have permanently closed.  Mass events will likely not return until, at least, next year. Masks will still be a (much-needed) thing. While I feel a deep longing to jump back in and hug every single person, stranger or friend alike, I’m still not quite ready to pull in my oars and let my vessel coast onto the sands of society. 

This has been a very roundabout and verbose way of saying let’s give ourselves and each other grace to emerge from our pandemic shelters in our own way, at our own pace.

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