Despite our worries time would drag once the seasons change, still it seemed to go by in it’s typical long-days-fast-weeks sort of way. I have been paying attention to how you are doing, and how I am doing, what are memories I am taking with me into the new year, and what are changes I am looking forward to. There has been a lot of people saying 2020 was the worst year ever. I am not so sure I feel that way, because 2020 changed us, and with those changes, it became apparent how inspirational you have been. I have watched most of you change routines and become parent and teacher and friend and child and spouse… and solo-livers in a blended way that required every ounce of your reserves while still figuring out ways to show up at your own jobs, whether as house manager, student or CEO and everywhere in between.
I learned that you could take a mild interest and make it a passion. I became amazed at your home creations, your baked goods, your organized closets, your road trips and camping weekends and zoom holidays. I became overwhelmed at your generosity in giving and helping and supporting others when your own strength felt weaker than ever. I was privileged to support you as I witnessed your tears as you grieved, found the depths of dark days, and sunk lower. I was awestruck how you persevered ever alone, and ever determined to try another day. I listened to your worries and questions about situations we did not have answers to, and watched you build trust in your judgment and self-respect and your boundaries. I heard your rage about what is supposed to be, and your anger at why it’s not. I celebrated with you the births of new babies who will forever claim their status as born during a Pandemic, and listened as you despaired and then navigated postponed weddings. I also worried about my kids, about my parents, about my neighbors and friends and collected wisdom along the way to confidently calm the worries.
As we attempt to recover from 2020 and look towards 2021, what is ahead of us? I have heard terms like “Generation Agoraphobia” and wow, did that stop me in my tracks. As a proud GenXer, Generation Agorapobia worries me. I read about it here first: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/style/my-kids-dont-want-to-go-outside.html
and thought about my own teens. As parents, we have been charged with keeping ourselves safe, and keeping our children safer. To that end, have we made them scared?
I spoke about this in some articles, I wrote this one on Parenting with Consistency and Predictability during COVID and stand firmly that we are responsible for teaching, smartly and factually, and not catastrophizing and not lying. Teach them well, teach them thoughtfully, teach them wisely. Remember, our kids trust us, and I trust you.
(I gave some pointed tips, along with some other therapists in this National Geographic Article as well).
If you need refreshers, you can read this helpful article Social-Emotional Pandemic Risks To Your Child — and Solutions by Age and of course, you can reach out, and I can help you more specifically.
Most of you saw my October message (part 1)with Connection Tips. If you have exhausted those, here are some more: NASW ideas for Self-Care during COVID-19.
If you and I speak regularly, you have heard at least half if not all of these messages from me in the past week. If you want to read your way through therapy, here are some really great tips: HuffPost Advice from Therapists. If you read this and it felt overwhelming, reach out. I’m still here.
There is a fourth wave coming. What? Yes. There is a shortage of mental health providers and there is a drastic increase in mental health issues. Some parts of this New York Times article is worth noting: “at the national level, there has not been a real focus on the pandemic’s toll on our mental health”, and that “once we get the pandemic under control, people are going to come up for air, and they will not be OK”. There is trauma. You experienced it, I experienced it, and there will be challenges.
Noting that, as you celebrated a new year, you thought about what to leave behind, what to take with you, and what to change. I think that you all have some really important feelings about all three of these. Continue to focus on what you have control over, what brings you comfort and joy, and how to make those things work for you. Continue to remember how you stepped up for others and others did for you. Remember you are loved and liked and cared about. And if you have trouble remembering I will help you with your recall. Take care of yourself, grieve, cry, and scream and then nourish yourself and rest. You have been through a lot. You were a part of someone’s story. You are a part of mine.
See you in 2021.