Today I feel awful. And I’m not ashamed of it or afraid of it because I know now, more than ever, that it’s completely normal and just part of being human.
We’ve been living through a pandemic for a year now and I feel more restless, helpless, scared and anxious than ever. I felt this way after just 6 weeks, but I still had hope that we would return to normal. Now, I fear it will last, in some form, forever. I have “Corona brain,” “COVID fatigue” and I don’t know where to put it. I want to lash out at something—hit a punching bag and then run as fast as I can until I’m breathless. Sometimes it’s intensely uncomfortable having those sensations in my body—the buzzing and racing.
I used to feel like these thoughts and emotions would tear me apart at the seams. I judged them as a dark and weak part of me, so I tried to banish them rather than process them, thinking I was in control. When they didn’t leave, I feared those dark, weak places had taken control, so I buffered to hide from them with overeating, overdrinking, overworking, over-exercising, etc. And the longer they stayed, the more I identified with them fearing the worst—that I was dark and weak.
After years of struggling with this, I know that when I am afraid of my thoughts and feelings, my anxiety escalates into panic and takes on a life of its own. This perceived loss of control overwhelms me, which creates even more anxiety and a downward spiral.
On New Year’s Eve I was exclaiming to my husband how buoyant I felt because of my lack of anxiety over the last year. My future looked so bright compared to the dark clouds I’d lived under for so long. I had so much energy to make up for lost time and expand into my new reality.
Then a global pandemic happened and it feels like I’m mourning the loss of my new reality—like my dream has been stolen. But I haven’t really lost anything. It was just an idea about the future. The truth is that I will experience this difficult and tragic time in a completely different way having done that work. Like today, I feel awful and will sit and process that rather than fear and fight it.
With compassion and perspective, I’ve learned to re-characterize dark and weak as completely understandable. This is what my brain is trained to do—perceive danger and protect me from it. When I bring love and awareness to the narrative, I can navigate my way through by identifying my scary thoughts, understanding where they come from and processing the uncomfortable emotions they create. I give myself space to just… feel… all of it.
So come with me to a place of non-judgment as we navigate this new external and internal landscape together ….
Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.
Don’t feel anxious about having anxiety.
Don’t be afraid of your fear.
Watch your thoughts and emotions roll in and out like the weather. Give the dark ones the time and space they deserve so they don’t dig in their heels and stay too long. Welcome them in as a part of you, but not the part that controls you. We are both dark and light.
There is no way around the darkness, only through it. Sit in it confident the sun will shine again.
Slow down and feel all the feelings. This will not overwhelm you, it will empower you.
That is how you take back your power.
Because if you can feel rather than fear your negative emotions,
YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.