OK, let’s get it out of the way. Yes, I’m writing about how the current crisis has been a time of reconnecting with myself. I know, I know, that sentence would usually make me shudder too. And I know what you’re thinking: another amateur author has taken a pseudo-philosophical angle on a brief to seem insightful and intelligent. But the thing is, this has really happened for me. Not by choice, not through deliberate reflection and soul-searching; but because it had to.

Lockdown in the UK came at a terrible time for me. My relationship of over 20 years had come to an end. I worked for my ex-partner’s business, so I was facing redundancy and the loss of any regular income. I had also lost access to my former home and was living in temporary accommodation. This is not a sob story. I had a roof over my head, supportive family and friends and a beautiful miniature dachshund for company who, no joke, has been a lifeline during this time. However, I’m not going to pretend that this time has been pretty. There have been tears (lots), rants to friends and much railing at the injustice of the world. Neither am I going to claim that I’ve experienced some form of epiphany and am now “at one” with myself and my place in the universe.

What I can say is that I’ve had to rediscover who I am outside of a relationship that has defined me since my teens. And this necessary reconnection has happened in several different ways: reconnecting with my profession and identity as a psychologist (“physician heal thyself”, I hear you); reconnecting with my friendships outside the circle of convenience that comprised mutual friends and other couples, and reconnecting with my personal values and valuing my own strengths.

The steps of this reconnection have been small and, at times, immensely painful. Some days every step forwards is tainted by the thought that this is another step further away from how my life “should” have been (full disclosure: writing that last sentence brought more tears) but the only way forward is through as they say.

However, on a good day, I can see the true rewards that reconnection has brought: A conversation with a friend who has experienced divorce so searingly honest that I cried for both him and me but somehow it left me with a feeling of hope; a sense of being loved so fiercely by my closest girlfriends that it’s humbling; a realization that, although this is so painful, there is a bravery in facing the reality of a situation and all the emotions it brings rather than engaging in avoidance and displacement. And that, I think, is the key; this time has given me no option but to face myself.

As I write this, I don’t know how to neatly tie up my experience for you, the reader, so that there is something to take away, some bon mots to live by. And I guess that’s because this is real and raw and honestly not some device for writing a meaningful piece. So, I’ll just offer this: this time has been hard and at times emotionally brutal but, in some strange way, I’m the most “me” that I’ve been in a long time.

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