Since I began the journey of introspection back in my early 40’s, I’ve relied heavily on the stages of grief chart to help analyze where I am in processing a given issue. There are several opinions out there in regard to how many stages there are, but I’m old school and stick with the five: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There have been occasions where I didn’t experience all five, but for the most part, they’ve been tried and true in helping me decipher my emotions and get past life’s obstacles.
As with anything that becomes rote, you stop questioning it and go along with the program out of habit. One less thing to analyze in this world of endless questions, right? With all of this free time on our hands now though, idle minds have unfettered freedom to wander into the under-explored habits…and wander I did. My mind actually took a hike equivalent to summiting Everest.
I ran through the stages that I had experienced since COVID entered my consciousness. Denial? Check! I had utterly denied that this was anything more major than the flu. That our hyper-focus on the issue was magnifying it to disproportionate levels. Akin to the graphic they use on every program of the virus itself. Blowing it up to the size of a baseball on our screens when in reality it is invisible to the naked eye. Much ado about nothing, as ol’ Bill would say.
Next came the anger. My friend, and as an Aries, my constant companion. Few people see this side of me, but my husband and kids can attest to its existence. I’m constantly railing against some perceived injustice. I like things to be fair, and let’s face it…they rarely are. So I’ll bemoan the government, the lack of compassion in the world, the price of produce. You name it, I’ve groused about it. In this corona realm it was the hyper-stringent mandates put in place by my state’s governor. Funnily enough, he’s being praised now for those same measures. Shows what I know.
Then came the bargaining. Okay, Governor DeWine, I’ll wash my hands, but I’m not singing “Happy Birthday” while I do it. Deal? Sure, I’ll stock up on a few things, but I’m still going to make my weekly trip to the grocery for perishables. Fair enough? I rarely travel anyway, so your recommendation not to travel is an easy one, sir. But I will need to make the trek to Kentucky every two weeks to care for my grandson. It’s just one day in fourteen, so I’m doing my part.
The shortest of all of them, ironically enough, was the depression. As an introvert by nature, this reclusive life was pretty much my norm anyway. I secretly reveled in not being able to be asked to attend some event that I’d rather avoid. A lunch date you say? Sorry, we’re in quarantine. No can do. The perfect excuse handed to me on a silver platter! It would be rude to refuse a present like that. So despite my diagnosis, depression wasn’t really an issue.
So I sped on my merry way straight into the arms of acceptance. The one thing in the world I could still hug. I churned out blogs, both personal ones and TV recaps at record speed. Bon mots and offerings of hope in the darkness. I wanted to be sure all of my friends on the journey could join me in the Paradise of pacified understanding of all of the benefits this new way of life had to offer. My moment to shine had come, and I could be the introverted Moses leading all of the social extroverts to the new land of Canaan. Manna from Heaven provided for all who’d just listen.
Then something strange and unexpected happened. I was getting angry all over again. Miffed at the nitpicking Nellies who had nothing better to do than to nag people for not following mandates to the letter. Annoyed that things like my birthday and plans made months in advance to see Wicked with my granddaughter were now up in smoke. Deeply bothered by the inability to escape the mention of the virus and our circumstance. Every freaking commercial that came on about how we’re all together in this amplified my frustration. In my head I was screaming, “shut up…Shut Up…SHUT UP! Stop talking about it already!”
If Nancy doesn’t know by now to social distance and wash her hands, then screw her. If Fred wants to go out without a mask on and risk his own health…let him. If he winds up on a ventilator, well, he asked for it. Darwinian survival of the fittest in action. Vicious and vile thoughts about people were piling up and I barely recognized myself. What was happening to me? I had already processed these emotions step by step. Did I not delve into them thoroughly enough? Am I some medical anomaly that they no longer apply to thanks to my depression? So. Many. Questions.
I don’t have the answers yet, so I can’t wrap this up in a shiny box with a sateen bow for you. What I am discovering though is that the stages of grief may not always be linear. In some cases, it’s not unlike shampooing your hair. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed. Apparently with COVID…I need a second go.
As always, I wish you happiness, health, and the freedom to be uniquely you, no matter how many washes it takes. XOXO