Struggling, the Pandemic, and an Omen of Hope

I haven’t written anything since pre-pandemic times. I haven’t wanted to. My creativity, my spirituality, my vibrancy, have all felt on the edge of dying for a while now. On the edge because I still have moments. I have a relationship in my life that is a pool from which I draw love for myself in the day-to-day. I treasure the presence and immediacy of times with my nieces and nephew. The classroom brings me moments of community and inspiration that my dried-up soul keeps trying to turn into hope. That I have those things, is the reason I survived the past year.

I looked upon quarantine with a lot of hope. I took to teaching online easily and with enjoyment having done my Masters in Educational Technology. I imagined it would be a time where I would write and create, where I would connect with the solitude that used to fuel my relationship with God and myself, and where I would spend good, quality time with those that I loved in our small pod of family.

Looking back, it feels as if I wasted opportunity. It feels as if I sat on my ass and made no progress towards being a better human being. Because I think that might hold truth, I struggle with showing compassion to myself. I hear and read what others say. It’s OK to not feel normal. It’s OK if you’re feeling sad, or lonely, or angry – but I felt none of those things while this pandemic has been happening. It’s only now as I have been fully vaccinated, our positivity rate is dropping, and they are bringing students back into my classroom that I am feeling this onslaught of whirling negativity and feeling the lack of my experiences of the previous year.

I don’t want to be angry with myself, but I am, because I feel lost. I struggle with the purpose of it all, my why to getting up every day. I struggle with recognizing we can only change ourselves and that what I offer to others may never be accepted. I struggle with knowing that my relationship with God and my spirituality is still there and I only need to call upon it, and still, I feel too tired to dial that number. I struggle with making the effort to connect with others who seem so excited about getting back out there and things opening up. I struggle with the self-pity for which judge myself harshly, knowing that people I love have situations happening that are truly scary and life altering. I struggle – I struggle – I struggle.

This morning my struggle finally eased a bit. With the light coming back to our world earlier these days, I have turned off the music on my way to work. It is a small step towards allowing a space for connecting with myself and with God. I think I have been hesitant to allow for any real space in my head or heart this past year. No journaling, no creative writing, no sitting with my thoughts. Every moment filled with the distractions of streaming, social media, board games, even sleep. On my way to work this morning I encountered three young deer playing together by the creek, under a tree at Seneca golf course. I slowed the car and whispered “hello”. All I could think was, “How beautiful.” Driving up Briar Hill to get to Lexington Rd., I said hello to my favorite tree that has seen me through the seasons of the past 11 years. Its small sprouts of green glowed in the morning sun and it seemed as happy to see me as I was to see it.

Thinking back after writing this, that the trio of fawns frolicking by the stream as I drove towards a day of work constituted some kind of omen seems obvious, but how many mornigns in the past year have I missed that because I wasn’t looking? The Easter egg colored trees and vibrant green grasses of April in Kentucky, along with its spring sunrises teased my dormant hope and dreams. I felt lured towards summer and something I couldn’t put my finger on. After a year of this pandemic life, I almost couldn’t let myself feel those emotions, I wanted to turn off the feelings, and yet they began to seep through anyway. Pulling into my spot at work, I wondered to myself, “Am I happy?” and in that moment I was – and in the following moments, I wrote.

***While I recognize that some of these descriptions of struggle may coincide with signs of depression, I want anyone reading this to know that I don’t feel like I need help in that area right now and I do have people to talk with. However, I do realize that people reading this might feel like they do. If you feel like you can’t get out of the hole of this past year, there are places and people to talk to! Many counselors and therapists in Louisville work on sliding scales and do whatever they can to make help affordable. You can do your own searching – or a good place to start is with https://sevencounties.org

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