Currently we are living through a pandemic, Black Lives Matter has moved prominently to the forefront of our times, global politics has been a daily conversation as much as our work talk and now we are living through a “new normal”.
When lockdown 2020 happened on 23 March, I was still floating from my month’s holiday in Thailand and dreaming of my next holiday, but everything stopped. Everything apart from my day job which got busier, anyone considered a “key worker” their life continued, adapted, and a sprinkle of added pressure and expectation.
Technology was at the top of the list, how do we expand on it, transfer communication on it and we had a Zoom boom. I had heard of Zoom before it exploded into what it is has become today 30 more million users and added online security. I have suddenly become a whizz at online meetings, muting people, trouble shooting and a video editor in the space of three months.
I started to envy those on furlough as having some paid time off sounds great, just think of all the things I could catch up on and all the things I could do. Realistically those “things” were domestic, cleaning, renovating and letter writing. However, in a way I am glad to have been working, there’s something about structure that helps me plan and oversee my days and weeks.
I’ve heard many people say it will be a time to “reflect, slow down and enjoy time with loved ones”. Yes and no. It has been an awful time of disruption for my Dad who has dementia, his routine has been completely wiped, his restriction of freedom has come at a cost, my relationship with him has been wrought with friction. He doesn’t understand that I’m not the one making the decisions on his life but I am carrying them out and therefore I get the brunt of the disgruntled anger. I am deciphering if he’s having a bad day, or he just hasn’t eaten/drank enough or if he’s genuinely having a bad day.
I am spent, my energy is low, my mind and body are tired from working, running over to make sure he’s okay, calling to make sure he’s eating and drinking and managing life as a step-mum, a partner and all these other labels I/society put on me. I have had more internal grumbles than usual, and my outlets which has been going to the gym, Fightzone or Islington Boxing Club are closed. Pubs will open on the 4th July but gyms are closed. Sigh. This government makes me fucking angry. Is healthcare a priority or is tax on alcohol a priority?
This has also been a time of reflection in many ways, I’ll start with ’21 Days of Abundance’ by Deepak Chopra. I was invited to commit to this and I really loved the journey of self-help. It’s not an easy journey as there are aspects of my Mum I was encouraged to answer and think about the people who really inspire and lift me up; and the ultimate question “what are you doing with your life”, not in those words but I know this is why I took the time and it’s always good to reassess where when one is at during times of difficulty or ease.
I have loads of ideas I would love to execute, lots of knowledge I would love to share and there’s sometimes something inside that stops me. Procrastination, scared, tiredness, excuses that I can always start tomorrow or am I waiting for the right moment? There is no right moment, there is no time like the present and I have to believe in myself that I can do it. But I am tired and there’s the excuse. So, how do I change this? I listened to Brene Brown talk recently where she says “sobriety is your superpower”. Do I drink that much, no but I do drink, could I plan my lifestyle better as much as I plan my work or extra hobbies, yes!
What’s really important to me? When my Mum died over ten years now, I asked myself this question. The answer was live life to the full. I made mistakes and I didn’t really live life to the full. However, Deepak talks about the “space between thoughts”. There is a voice that speaks to me and to us all, it’s that intuitive one that tells us “yes, go for it” or “no, don’t do it”. It tells us many things but we either silence or ignore it. I am getting better at listening to it and much of the time to hear it, I have to “let go”.
Now “letting go” is a difficult concept for me as I am a hoarder and a hanger on. This comes from my family, I can acknowledge that. Emotions, scenarios, regrets that are passed onto you like it’s a burden for you to live with all of your life. I have to remind myself daily that I don’t need to carry it with me and I am reminded of it when i hear of other peoples childhoods. I do not possess the power to change my past, I wasn’t given the opportunities of some and it was an oppressive, restrictive childhood. But I do possess the power to forgive and move on and change the way I feel about it.
It has been so hard in “letting go” all of the childhood feelings of the past in the last five years, my Dad’s ongoing health issues year upon year, finding out I had a half-brother, finally meeting my Dad’s family members. I feel like I’ve been the guilt and shame he has hidden for so many years yet the expectation that has fallen upon me to be responsible for him and his health has no thanks. Dementia brings out the ugly side of my Dad’s personality and all the trappings I felt as a child I am choked with as an adult. Has my mental health been affected, of course, I have been seeing various counsellors. Has my relationship been affected, undoubtedly and my partner is still here for now. Has my life stopped. Yes. I am living and breathing for my Dad. Have I lost who I am? Yes.
The tears, the anger, the guilt, the shame, the resentments have all reared their ugly heads in me and it is hard to quiet the voices of the past. The voices I thought I had dealt with. This is what post apocalyptic times are like.