There is nothing quite like a globetrotting virus completely unknown to the human body and invisible to the naked eye to evoke feelings of exposure, vulnerability, uncertainty, anxiety, and fear of the unknown.
Am I right, or am I am right?
I know I am not alone in sitting with these feelings because I understand that we, the vulnerables, have shared similar, yet unique life experiences that have stitched our hearts together in a way that allows us to have unusual insight and extraordinary compassion one towards another, especially amidst a life-threatening reality.
Here’s the headline:
We are all in need of compassion and paracletes.
Compassion and paraclete are 2 words that I love. Compassion speaks to sitting with [com] another in their pain, “a [passion] compounded by love“; I like to pair compassion with the word, paraclete, which means to come alongside another as “an advocate, a comforter, a consoler, an intercessor.”
Given the current conditions and based upon my internal barometer, I respectfully submit the following for your consideration and/or to assure you that you are not alone in the way you are feeling.
Ingredients of Vulnerability:
- Physical and Emotional Exposure
- Heightened Sense/Awareness of Personal Risk
- Uncertainty and the Unknown
- Emotional Rawness, or perhaps, Numbness
- Sadly, trauma-related symptoms approaching intolerable levels apply to some of us, or perhaps, all of us in this life as we now know it. Things like hyper-vigilance, intrusive thoughts, inability to concentrate/problem solve, agitation/easily irritated, sleep disturbance, nightmares, avoidance behavior, powerless, and lacking any semblance of control
I don’t know about you, but I will tell you that I have ‘hot mess’ written all over me. I live in an immune compromised state 24/7/366 (bonus day this year). Given said immune state, I’ve played dodge ball with the invisible world of bacteria, viruses, and fungi for almost 12 years now; however, NEVER with a novel virus globetrotting like wildfire that abides by no boundaries and will likely kill tens [if not hundreds] of thousands of us before it is all said and done. As if that reality isn’t disheartening enough, the majority of deaths thus far have been among those with chronic conditions independent of age.
Adding some serious heat to my ‘hot mess’ self, I am braced for what I expect to be even more sobering news this week as more and more results from the ramped up testing within the United States are reported. These numbers will be higher, maybe jaw dropping; however, they will begin to give us a sense of the scope and scale of what we will face in the foreseeable future here in the United States. As those numbers rise, so will those feelings of exposure, vulnerability, and the significance of my increased personal risk.
[Keeping it real, my friends; this is the state of my heart]
You may ask what exactly does a ‘hot mess’ look like?! If you are asking that question, then you MUST not be a southerner where we hang crazy on the front porch: ha!
Seriously though, one could begin by simply asking my husband or our son, what it was like living with me last week as our leaders ramped up efforts to “flatten the curve”, talked of limited access to intensive care, limited numbers of ventilators, insufficient supplies of personal protective equipment for our first responders and frontline healthcare providers, and words like ‘shelter in place’ and ‘social distancing’ became colloquial overnight. Where they would be kind in their description, I will be unfiltered. Last week was full of angst, anxiety, frustration, and strife as I grasped for some semblance of control over this uncontrollable reality we are facing.
Fluid situations drive me to day drinking [kidding, kind of; no judgement people], especially when my life and the lives of those I love are exposed and vulnerable. I mean, seriously, who among us handles a fluid pandemic with milk and a pacifier?!
I am not sleeping well. I am having difficulty staying present in the moment. I am having difficulty concentrating, troubleshooting. I’ve given different answers to the same question depending on the day of the week such that my family has likely wondered at time if I am having a psychotic break. Geez, I’ve wondered the very same thing though I assure you, I am not.
[Don’t even get me started on meal planning, making a complete grocery list, and actually executing a meal start to finish; anyone with me?!]
There was a time in my life when I could bring chaos to calm within moments, but that was back in the late 1900’s when I was a bedside nurse, then a nurse practitioner in pediatric oncology. I suppose even in my personal life, I could roll with the punches, go with the flow much more easily than I do now. Post transplant trauma has truly challenged that ability within me. Whereas, I used to default to my prefrontal cortex, I now default to my amgydala (also known as lizard brain), a common phenomenon in those with a history of trauma.
I’ve arrived at the following conclusions over the last week:
- I am normal [no comments from the peanut gallery]
- I am REALLY scared and anxious at times, and that’s okay
- I was created to live within the confines of 24 hours as a protective measure to guard my heart, the wellspring of life
- Though I may wonder, I will strive not to worry as I’ve been promised that tomorrow will take care of itself
So, while I am wondering, I have issued myself a call to action:
Deescalate and Ground Yourself Post Haste
In no particular order, I give you the intentions of my heart.
- Establish new daily anchor points: morning, noon, and night
- Practice Gratitude
- Hugs: at least 5, 40-second hugs per day so that our hearts have time to communicate with one another
- Self Care: early morning yoga and devotional time followed by a walk with our pup, Popper
- Reading of the News [time limits, no spin, no hype, evidence-based and reliable sources only]
- Writing: blogging again and embryonic idea for a book
- Household Management: laundry, the dishwasher, disinfecting high touch surfaces
- Relationships: check in times with our son topped off with hugs, encouraging texts and phone calls to family and friends, still working on family time in the evenings as we are a full on college and professional sports family; we’ll get there simply need a mix of old school, new school, and creativity
I am a work in progress and a masterpiece simultaneously. My goal is progress not perfection in choosing each day, many times a day to choose faith over fear, fact over fiction, and genuine reality over misleading appearance. I am ‘all in’ because when my anxiety deescalates, my soul is grounded, and my cup is full it sets a much-needed tone of peace, love, kindness, courage, empathy, normalcy, and security for our family, our Z-pak, our 3 pack.
Lastly, may we be comassionate paracletes to one another as we come together from a distance.
[Genuine Reality over Misleading Appearances]
Presently, my cup is not full. I am exhausted by every aspect of this situation; however, I will persevere and focus on the intention of my heart.
Friends: stay hydrated, up your Vitamin D, stay creatively connected, and be well!