Peak Fatigue & Transformation | May 3, 2020
I’m feel like we’re reaching peak fatigue. We may be successfully flattening the curve of the spread of COVID-19, but I think our collective fatigue, exhaustion, overwhelm and anxiety is off the charts. Our emotions are all over the place. I sort of joke when I say it, but not really, if you don’t like your current emotional state, just wait five minutes. From overflowing gratitude to painful heartbreak, to swells of anger, to deep grief. We’re coving the emotional gamete.
Often in times of crisis we initially jump into action. Our adrenaline is pumping and we’re all about action. Thinking back several weeks ago, I was making plans and contingency plans, I was supporting ALL the small businesses, planning and joining in on ALL the zoom calls, texting friends on the daily, face timing family. I was going to ROCK social distancing, I was going to stay at home better than anyone has ever stayed at home. I am an introvert after all, this is my jam. But, eventually, the adrenaline subsides, and becomes anxiety and the reality sets in. Things still aren’t back to normal or even close to normal any time soon, and the “end date” keeps getting pushed back, and back…and we’re missing out on more and more things, birthdays, holidays, celebrations, and it takes a toll.
Even if we still have jobs, and income, even if we’re healthy, and safe, even if we have more time for all the little projects and there is some deep joy mixed in, it’s wearing on us all. When we’re rocking the adrenaline it’s easy to ignore our feelings, we can push them aside while we attend to the preset crisis, but that’s not sustainable because the adrenaline always wears off, and we will always be faced with the reality.
I was listening to Brene Brown's new podcast this week and as she was talking about Comparative Suffering she said something that hit me hard, she said that empathy isn’t finite. Empathy isn’t finite. Meaning, if I have empathy for the front line workers in hospitals, it does not take away from having empathy for myself. Having empathy for those who are sick right now, does not leave less empathy for me to feel towards myself over missing time with our family and friends. Empathy is not finite. We can have empathy for others and have empathy and emotion for our own feelings too. One does not make the other less important.
It’s really easy in situations like this to rationalize away our own emotions, there will often be someone who is having a harder time than you are but that does not take away from your experience. You can be relatively well off, and still be grieving the loss of your normal. AND when we can attend to our own emotions, it gives us more empathy for others.
So here we are. 8 weeks online. 8 weeks without seeing one another. For many of us it’s been 8 weeks without our friends and families, without grandparents and grandkids, best friends, siblings, cousins, chosen family, for some it’s been 8 weeks without any other person. It’s been weeks of lives that look very different then any other version of life we've ever lived. Tonight I want to create some space to name allowed those emotions and feelings, to put words to our grief. It will be imperfect because i think it’s hard to attend to our feelings without being in person, but we’ll do the best we can. I hope to write words down that reflect our experiences and by seeing them together we can name and acknowledge them, giving the some space and attention.
We often talk about liminal spaces, or thin spaces, spaces that are rich and ripe for transformation. They are thresholds, as Rev. Anna Bladel writes, “Thresholds are thin spaces, holy and unsettled. Thrash and thresh share the same root. We thrash about as everything “stable,” “certain,” “secure” is stripped away and we face the radical uncertainty that is more true than the structures of certainty we often cling to.” Thresholds and transformation is not without grief and pain. But perhaps, even because we live through the pain and grief, squeezed, pushed and stretched, what comes on the other side is worth it. Maybe, better even. Threshold spaces invite us to become allies with not knowing. And only after we have discerned with wisdom and insight what to carry forth, in the moments of rupture and crisis, new ways of being can emerge. I won’t sugar coat, or tie a nice neat bow on our emotions. But I do offer a prayer and a hope, for this liminal space that we may be transformed.