a hug. a drink. some love. :: support during the virus
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, to get through this thing called Life.” – Prince
So. The corona virus. I have wanted to write something to support you all, but I couldn’t quite put things together in my head until today- today, when I finally felt a lot of things and had a good cry.
This new space we are living in is a very strange one. It is simultaneously “Try to go on with being normal” and also “This is an emergency and everything is different.” Many of us have kids at home full-time suddenly. I know many of you have parents to take care of as well. And, surely, many of you are now struggling (perhaps even more than before) to make ends meet. It’s a fucking lot to deal with.
The foundational things are obvious, but bear repeating: stay the f*ck home (if you can) and don’t consume information such that you make things worse for yourself. You know your limits; make sure you stand by them.
So, here is what I have to share. The best, kindest advice I can offer. Please imagine that I am giving you a hug (since we are living in virtual connecting now, anyhow), and we are sharing a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a shot of tequila, or whatever drink suits you right now. If we were best gal pals, I’d have one arm around your shoulders and I’d say this.
“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
When you can, feel your feelings. This has been hard for me, and I am a professional feeler. This corona virus stuff isn’t just the usual one or two emotions I tend to carry. It’s about 12 things at once: fear, the desire for control, exhaustion, worry, caring, love, grief. It’s hard to sort them all out and feel them. But, if you can, do. Start by naming the things you’re feeling. I recommend this chart (very handy for people of all ages!).
When it’s too much, don’t be afraid to scream. Just let your people know what you’re doing and why: “I just have a lot of feelings and I need to go scream into a pillow. You might hear me, but nothing’s wrong. I’m just helping my feelings move so I can make space inside me to take care of us.” And don’t be afraid to cry, laugh, or anything else. Emotions are just messengers- let them deliver their package and you can keep moving along.
“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” – Mary Oliver from ‘Wild Geese’
Move the way your body wants to move. Dance. Jump. Sink into the bed. Wear a blanket cape. Jiggle. Whatever it is, let your body express itself the way it wants to. Be open to being surprised. Many times I have felt like slam dancing when what my body wanted was to move in waves and curves or to shake until the unseen weight I was carrying slipped off my physical frame. Give your body permission to just be how it wants to be for a few minutes.
What that looks like in my life right now is a lot more punching and kicking. But also more laying down and staring at the ceiling above my bed. The hubs and I are also having more sex because we need the connection. Sex also feels like giving the middle finger to death, which seems closer than usual. We both need the aliveness of physical connection. (And I know that for some of you, the EXACT OPPOSITE is true. You want nothing to do with your partner, nor to be touched by or connect with them. Girl, that is okay, too. Take care of your body- however that looks.)
“Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hahn
Breathe. You may notice that you’re feeling a lot more stressed. When you notice, take a moment to drop your shoulders down your back, unclench your jaw (and maybe your butt muscles), and take some deep breaths. Try for a cycle of 3 deep inhalations and exhalations. This automatically moves your nervous system from “fight/flight/flee/fawn” to “rest and renew.” It’s physically impossible for your body to breathe deeply and remain in the more anxious side of your nervous system. Practice whenever you remember.
“With mindfulness, loving kindness, and self-compassion, we can begin to let go of our expectations about how life…should be.” – Sharon Salzberg
Forgive yourself. We are all going to make mistakes and fuck things up while this virus makes its way around the world. We’ll say and do things we regret. It’s okay. We’re all stressed. Please forgive yourself- you’re human. And, now, amidst all this weirdness, you’re even more human, even more likely to fuck things up. It’s okay. Be gentle with your own heart.
You know what I did the other day? Some jerk wanted to cut into traffic when it was clear (because there was an accident up ahead) that he should have gotten in line WAY THE FUCK back there. I gave him a dirty look and didn’t let him into traffic. And I regretted it. I was just as much the asshole as he was. I didn’t behave particularly ‘spiritually.’ I let my anger rule me. So, I beat myself up about it for about 5 minutes and then decided that wasn’t going to help the situation, either. I thought about why I chose that, and I forgave myself. I held my heart and my choices with gentleness. Do this for you, too.
This is my best advice: feel, move, breathe, forgive yourself.
As for the mid-life perspective, I’m thinking particularly of how much we have to take care of right now. Families- children and parents. Jobs- some that may not be supporting us the way we need. We may be seeking out support that will require forms and time to receive anything back. Give yourself a few breaths as you work through the tedious things. And there may be no space for privacy where you live- remember that your bathroom is a sacred space for breathing and having a boundary when you need one (close the door, sit, breathe).
I’m thinking about how peri-menopause symptoms might make all this harder when your estrogen is in short supply and you’re stressed out to begin with. And if you’re feeling super angry, like you want to throat punch people (for whatever reason), this is also 100% valid. Please be gentle with yourself. Apologize when needed. Tell people the truth when needed. Know that everything is a season, everything is a phase. This, too, shall pass.
I’m also thinking about my Sex Surge® sisters. When you may have to be away from your person. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, okay? To yourself or anyone else. Take good care of your heart. When your body is on fire and the usual outlets aren’t there- let your body be creative. You can spend sexual energy in 1000 different ways. (And, not joking, I hear there is an increased need for phone sex workers. So, if that speaks to you, go for it.)
And to the front-line folks who are reading this: THANK YOU. The grocery clerks, the cashiers, the pharmacy folks, the shelf stockers, the nurses, the doctors, the other healthcare folks. Thank you all for all you’re doing. Thank you to the people behind these people- making the medicines, washing the clothes, picking the food, driving the trucks, cleaning our spaces. Thank you all. You’re saving this world.