I’ve seen a meme circulating that if (during this pandemic) you don’t start a new hobby, improve yourself, or craft a new skill then it wasn’t about time, it’s a lack of discipline.
I have to be one of the most disciplined people I know. When I have a task, I am focused until I complete it. When I have a vision, I go after it with everything I have. It doesn’t matter if I have time or not, the time is created.
But when you are in the midst of chaos, the midst of CRISIS, there isn’t the space available to put towards self-actualization because your brain’s sole focus is surviving.
I sheltered my family in place on March 13. This pandemic brought up a fair amount of PTSD from having cancer and imagining what life would be like if one of us had to be hospitalized and facing death again. At that time with all the unknowns of this virus, it felt like a true risk. It was a true risk as many in our community experienced.
I didn’t want to take a chance. So, I kept myself and the boys home even before it was mandated. I asked Chris to stop working even before it was mandated. He didn’t want to but we know the severity and the reality of facing mortality so we sheltered in. And yes, we had more time. But we also returned to the fight or flight adrenaline in our bodies when your sole purpose is survival. Our bandwidth became shortened.
There was no space for creativity, other than creating a safe home and environment for our children. I couldn’t write, my brain would not allow me to go there. And it hasn’t been able to for a long time. I first attributed it to chemo brain, which is entirely possible. Then I attributed it to my inability to multitask since radiation, which is also entirely possible. Then I was wrapped up with school and all my creativity went to my job. And now, a pandemic.
But last night, I stumbled across Adam’s journal. The notebook I started when pregnant. My last entry was the night before I started chemo, just a few weeks after having two surgeries. It was a sweet entry, telling him of my courage and love for him. But it was also very sad. When his brother was little I wrote to him constantly. I did have more time but I was also healthy. I have TWO journals for Reid because one could not contain enough pages for all the writing I held for him. As a mom, that didn’t sit right with me that at some point one child may feel more loved than the other because I wrote about it more.
So after 6+ weeks of being home with my family, I wrote for the first time since January. But even that writing was only a brief moment of clarity. I couldn’t write before then because I was in the throes of a crisis (like we are now as a worldwide community) facing emotional, physical, financial worries. But since the boys went to sleep early, I spent an hour writing last night. It felt so good to write, to process.
This morning, I felt clear and motivated, compelled when I woke to write again. I feel relief. I feel a grounding. I feel a return to me.
It wasn’t time or discipline I was lacking the last 6 weeks, it was the safety of being in my body and in my home and not feeling a threat to my life and those who I love. It was feeling the realistic fear of my husband losing the business he loves so much. It wasn't me being lazy--and it isn't you being lazy either. In survival, higher-level thinking, motivation and determination no longer get a seat at the table. So give yourself some grace and scroll on past those presumptuous memes.
I know we are still facing risks of this virus, but I can finally see the flicker of light now. I see life returning and while I know it will be far from normal for some time, I feel a settling into what is and I am hopeful for what is to come.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.