If you are feeling X because of X, then choose to do Y.
Everything is a bit weird at the moment isn’t it? I’m sitting here mulling the past two weeks over in my head. Every now and then I have been feeling dizzy – as though the world has turned slightly on its axis, and everything seems a bit blurry around the edges.
I have been examining what it is that I feel and it’s akin to trauma, or mourning.
Thursday 5th March – this day two weeks ago, was the 20th anniversary of my Dad’s sudden passing. My Dad and I had a close bond, he barely ever had a harsh word to say. On previous anniversaries I have felt sad and I miss him almost daily, however, for some reason this anniversary hit me much harder than I expected. Maybe it’s because 20 years seems like such a huge milestone and an incredibly long time to not be with someone whom you yearn for so much.
For some time after his death I felt slightly numb, like everything wasn’t real. I experienced these blurred feelings again at the end of 2016 after my nephew died, and then again last year as one of my dearest friends lost her son too. I have subsequently learned that apparently trauma does slow down your brain functioning so it’s understandable that my senses may have seemed dulled during those times.
But it seems to me that this is how I feel once again, although to a lesser degree than after those huge tragic personal events.
Last Thursday we got the news that the schools were closing, immediately! There was general panic and mayhem as parents rushed to the school to pick up books, phone lines were jammed as people tried to communicate with one another to co-ordinate plans, and people all over descended on the supermarkets to buy what looked like two weeks’ worth of groceries!
I normally do a top-up grocery shop on a Thursday before the weekend so I stupidly stuck to routine and went to my nearest Aldi. I should have taken the warnings of an overflowing car park and no available shopping trollies left outside the shop, to turn around and leave it. But no, I went in with the thoughts of ‘how bad can it really be?’ Well it was the worst shopping experience I’ve ever had! I was stuck with a few baskets of produce in a queue for nearly 45 minutes while people all around stripped the shelves bare of everything but mostly toilet paper, pasta and flour. It appeared as though we were in the opening scenes of an end of the world movie. Nobody knew what to expect, whether shops would be restocked or how long we may have to be stuck indoors while our supplies ran out.
Now after a week of being at home, we are trying to create our new normal. Thankfully the panic buying has slowed down as people have realised that they have enough toilet paper to keep them smelling pleasant. Not that this is actually a problem at the moment considering we shouldn’t get within 2 metres of one another anyway.
St Patrick’s Day was meant to happen, but didn’t. The fact that the pubs were closed on the night before, just goes to show how seriously the Irish were taking the Covid-19 outbreak. If you wanted a parade, you had to get your kids to create one around the garden with tin whistles and plastic tractors.
Now the kids are home, we are attempting homeschooling and hoping we are getting it right. We hear the daily Covid-19 stats in Ireland and Europe gradually increasing and we hope the wave doesn’t wash over our own homes. We are limiting the trips out and hoping we take the best precautions in keeping our hands clean and our families protected. We have a date for when the kids are meant to return to school, but because everything is uncertain, we don’t really believe it will happen.
We are stuck between reports saying that in some countries schools will stay shut until September and other reports saying that the fatalities of this virus are so low in proportion to other illnesses, that it is nothing to be concerned about. That more people die from starvation, malaria, cancer, diabetes and heart disease but this is the one that has captured the media attention of the world.
So here we all are, stuck in limbo, not really knowing what to expect next, maybe feeling as though we are just waiting for a bus to hit and not knowing how to get out of the way.
The DJ on Spirit radio was talking about managing anxiety the other day by using CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) techniques to acknowledge your feelings, identify them and then address them with solutions. So, if you are feeling X because of X, then choose to do Y. This helps you take positive steps in dealing with whatever in causing you stress.
Long before this outbreak was known about, someone compiled the words for the daily reading for today that I read in the Our Daily Bread app on my phone. The reading was from Joshua 1:1-9 but this verse stood out for me: Have “I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
And long before apps were invented, the original words of this passage were penned and they remain true today. Joshua went into a new territory and fought battles with all manner of enemies, and he was successful because God went with him. I’m not saying that you should go into new places, but if you have to go anywhere where you feel vulnerable – like if you have to step into a front line health care position, then you know you don’t have to walk there afraid and alone. We can put our trust in Someone far greater than us who is able to fight battles no human ever could.
So the ‘Y’s’ I am choosing is to NOT be anxious, but rather to keep my faith and trust in the One who has sustained me through all the seasons of my life, even the worst ones, knowing that whatever comes down the road, He will continue to be faithful to me as He was to Joshua, thousands of years ago.
My ‘Y’s’ also include trying to enjoy spending more time with my family and getting out to go for walks and bicycle rides in beautiful, uncrowded places with them.
Also, my ‘Y’s’ mean I’m choosing what I fill my head with, by NOT reading every single news update online and to stay away from trending hashtags on Twitter!
Instead, I am filling my mind with reading things which boost up my happiness quotient and today I came across four opportunities for this, including the daily Bible reading I mentioned above.
Two of them are these funny and upbeat articles, one by the Guilty Chocoholic Mama called Why We Need a Little Christmas Right This Very Minute or this one by the Babylon Bee entitled God To Ignore Quarantine And Continue Being Everywhere.
The fourth is I discovered a book which my father inscribed for me for my 10th birthday that I have always wanted to read, but never have got around to – a well travelled copy of the Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. I am really looking forward to the slower pace of life and curling up with more books, but especially with this book right now and the comfort of the presence of my father.
What wise Y’s are you choosing?