I have been doing a lot of thinking lately.
About the covid-19 virus.
Not directly or specifically about the virus itself.
But about the ripples it has caused in the lives of people.
Including my own.
In this post, I’m not discussing whether or not the virus was as deadly as we were told, whether or not the Lockdowns were necessary, whether or not others are compassionate if they care about people suffering from non-covid issues. I’m talking about the effects of the virus, which has caused ripples in people’s lives. I imagine the virus being like a boulder thrown into a lake. The boulder causes a huge splash, which causes droplets to hit the water and formed many ripples, which intersected and collide with each other.
Most governors ordered Lockdowns in their states beginning in early Spring. As we all know, businesses were closed, schools were shut down, hospitals were reserved for covid-19 patients, people were told they couldn’t socialize with others, there were shortages in the grocery stores. As a result, people lost jobs or businesses, which means they lost income, which means they struggled to pay bills. For many, this meant that they risked the possibility–or reality–of losing their homes and going hungry. Children were stuck at home, unable to get out in the sunshine and play. Bored, whiny children with no place to expend excess energy is not enjoyable. I think it would be particularly difficult for families shut up in apartments. People with nonvirus related health issues were unable to get care, which means many suffered with a great deal of pain and/or did not receiving life-sustaining treatment. Some people were trapped in a home with their abuser, unable to escape. Not good. There are many other effects that could be listed.
The effects of people losing jobs, or businesses, food shortages, isolation, and everything else causes a great deal of stress, which affects both physical and mental health. There have been enormous increases in anxiety, fear, grief, depression, abuse, suicides.
I think we have all been dealing with these pressures in different ways. Some of us will handle what’s happening in our lives by withdrawing, others by reaching out. There are times when we are strong and can be strong for others, but there are also times when the pressures will be overwhelming and we will breakdown, overreact, or lash out. I’ve pondered how to deal with this–in myself and others. I finally concluded that in these extraordinary times, we need to not take things personally when someone has a meltdown. We need to give plenty of understanding and forgiveness to each other–and that includes to ourselves–when we break down and aren’t as strong as we want to be. I don’t know about you, but I have more difficulty giving understanding and forgiveness to myself than to others.
Another part of all this is that I’ve been observing that as people deal with the challenges in their lives in different ways, the dynamics in relationships are changing. We are each connected to each other, and what affects one person or family, affects those they are close to. Changes in our lives–whether illness, marital status, children, a move, a new job, tragedy–always affects those that are close to us as well as ourselves. It doesn’t mean the changes are bad or that we shouldn’t make them. It just means things shift.
So…I think of how the ripples of the virus are affecting my own life. All my friends and I are affected by the ripples. We are all going through stresses and struggles of various sorts. We are all dealing with it in one way or another. We all have good days and bad–and one friend’s bad day can trigger another’s insecurities. There are days when we are strong and days when we aren’t–it’s messy and difficult if both are weak on the same day. Some friends are withdrawing and restricting their world–which can cause another friend to lose companionship and support. Others are reaching out and expanding–which could make a friend feel left behind or replaced. Some are on social media more–which can help them and others feel connected. Some are on social media less, which can help them feel less overwhelmed, but also make others feel disconnected. I believe that we each have to make the best decisions we can to take care of ourselves in these extraordinary times–and making decisions for ourselves is not wrong–but, even so, there are ripples.
I actually think that I–and probably many others in the world–have entered a “liminal space.” The word “Iiminal” comes from a Latin word meaning “threshold.” It is a point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a seismic shift, a season of waiting, of not knowing. It is often dark and cavernous, filled with disruption, uncertainty, and struggle, where we don’t know who to become or how to navigate. Think of the period of time between the caterpillar and the butterfly – it is liminal; it is the chrysalis. It is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.
My liminal space involves questions such as: My friends have genuine needs–but so do I. How do I respect and support the needs of my friends while also meeting my own needs? What things do I need to let go, and what things do I need to pursue? Which changes will be temporary and which will become permanent? How do I deal with and balance the pain of (possible) losses and the joy of gains? How do I deal with fears and insecurities that are stirred up during this time? Who am I, and who do I want to become? I am trying not to resist changes but instead to see this time as an opportunity for growth. It’s a blank page. What do I write on it and how do I accomplish it?
Liminal spaces can lead to very good things, but they are difficult.