April 24, 2020
Good morning. I hope you and yours are well on this partly sunny morning.
My emotions were all over the place this week. I felt hopeful and energetic, in a lovely, spiritual state of mind the that ended in a wonderful Zoom chat with my children and family members. I miss them so much. The following morning, watching the news left me drained. Writing helped tremendously and produced a mini-rant that caused the side effect of Catholic guilt for being too angry and wondering if I was missing some bigger picture. I took deep inhalations, exhaled, and found my happy Zen place by sitting in the garden to find my center again because I used to be a glassful kind of woman…more like a 3/4 glassful, actually. But it was hard.
Other days, I accepted the challenges of living alone in quarantine and forgave myself for messy emotions. This morning, I don’t believe I was missing the bigger picture, at all: we should stay home to stop the spread of this deadly virus and not open the country too soon, or risk going back to square one.
I watched the Coronavirus Taskforce Briefing two days ago and heard the president ask Dr. Birx about the possible benefits of shooting disinfectants into our veins for…I don’t know the reason. To disinfect our veins, our lungs? I’m positive that’s what I heard him ask her. Why can’t we get rid of this guy? She lowered her head as he spoke. I realize she is in an impossible situation and working for him…but she shouldn’t lie to the public about the okayness of reopening hair salons and massage centers. Those briefings often produce anxiety and frustration, followed by bouts of fear and despair. I turn off the news and remind myself (again) I’m a strong woman and dammit, I’ve lived through some shitty situations. I tell myself I will survive this nasty ass virus, for as many times as it chooses to resurface, until we have a vaccine.
It’s strangely comforting to read articles and blog posts about people experiencing similar emotional highs and lows. One writer shared how she’d cried in the shower after a relatively good day. Another wrote about finally dealing with the loss of a loved one after years of mindnumbing, nonstop work at a job they now hate. Some extroverts are struggling with isolation and being alone with their thoughts for the first time in a long time. Introverts like myself, who in the past didn’t mind living alone and are still working alone, desperately miss their people, their tribe.
Everything feels upended, strange, and unfamiliar. At the same time, since we’re stuck at home for the unforeseeable future and creating new patterns of living, our days feel strangely liberating and familiar at a deep emotional level. It’s as if we know, our inner selves know, we needed this lockdown break from what we viewed as ‘normal’ to regain our perspective and balance. We are now better able to see the challenges and toxicity in certain situations, relationships, and in the workplace. We recognize important and life-changing changes we can make in ourselves, in our lives, and in our relationships.
We’re all dealing with some level of grief, loss, and minor and major changes. There was no gradual, warm invitation to change, stress, and adversity–we were thrown headfirst into a pandemic with little to go on but our instincts, as misguided and brilliant as they may have been at first.
I’m a huge fan of the series, “Naked and Afraid”, where complete strangers shed their clothing and are plopped in impossible environments around the world with two items to test and challenge their survival skills. Some make it, some don’t, and it’s always the ones you worry about initially who make it. The show reminds of this pandemic, where each of us was thrown into an impossible situation with only a few tools and skills, but with a fierce determination to survive.
An insane amount of adversity, change, shocking events, and trauma, all in the blink of an eye, confronted us in late February. Yes, most definitely, there were those who knew this dreaded virus was coming and what it would cause and cost individuals, communities, our contry, and the world. The bad karma is on them. But for the most part, the average man, woman, and child had no advanced warning of what was to come.
We weren’t handed an instruction manual. There were no words of wisdom, concrete help, or places to turn to for help early on because we were all dealing with the same things. It is still chaotic, frightening, and unnerving. We had no answers. There are still few known medical facts (known to us, anyway), and most importantly, we still aren’t offered a lot of hope for a future without COVID-19. The only thing I know is that in the future we will be wearing masks and gloves, and will be encouraged to continue to practice safe distancing. Some will survive, some won’t.
So, let’s give ourselves a freaking break and a pat on the back for getting this far.
Stay healthy and be safe.
April 25, 2020
If your emotions are on a careening rollercoaster some days, my only advice is to stop and retreat to a quiet corner of your house or balcony, and breathe. Find your center by sitting still and closing your eyes. Breathe. If you can get to a park, to the ocean (where I’d given anything to be right now), or to a body of water, go there. Breathe. Look at nature photographs and fall in love with our planet again. Wrap yourself in protective, white light. Forgive others, forgive yourself. Reach deep for more patience, compassion, and kindness, it’s there. Don’t lash out against those who are in quarantine with or around you, who are most likely dealing with messy emotions fueled by frustration and fear similar to your own. Cry, release. Hug yourself and know all will be well. The future might look different, but it will okay.
This pandemic will end. We will laugh, share meals, love, visit each other, and travel to new or familiar places. We will be happy and grateful we came through the novel coronavirus. We will share stories that will make us cry with a knowing, and we will smile with understanding, compassion, and joy, all about how we survived. We will emerge more informed, armed with vital, new skills, and knowledge. We’ll emerge with an arsenal of tried and true coping techniques and new survival skills. That’s how I see the future without La cabRona, which means the bitch in Spanish. Thank you to the graphic artist, @pinche_raf_art, for his wonderful Pandemic Loteria series he shares on Instagram that includes La cabRona.
Today, let’s be kinder and more patient with ourselves and as patient as we can with others. We’re doing our best in these incredibly challenging times.
I wrote this blog post as a reminder for you and for me to never lose hope.
Be well, stay healthy.
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. She is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. Her adult children are out in the world doing amazing things, which fills her with immense pride. Eleanor is surviving the novel coronavirus with a puppy named Sophie and by writing full-time.