Perhaps it is a sign of the times, this nostalgia for moments long gone I am experiencing. A reaction to the deep uncertainty I currently feel. Claustrophobia as a symptom of Covid. The longing to scream out loud my suppressed panic and run like Forrest Gump until I have managed to run away so completely, I am refreshed and ready to start again.
Perhaps we are all feeling it. For I am noticing now how deep other people’s pain is too. How much they are hurting. Their frustrations. Their longing for normality. I am hearing it from friends and seeing it in family. OR perhaps, this is a more singular pain. Everything. And something so personal, and ludicrous I cannot begin to explain it here, for I do not seem to be able to manage, nor predict what other people tell me is blatant and simple.
When I am worried I become paralysed. I become consumed by what is happening to me and I find it so very difficult to do normal things. To eat properly. Or to sleep. So days become a series of hours I mark by routine but do not really experience. The minutes crawl by but the days tumble over each other. I laugh but I am not laughing. Weep but do not know there are tears rolling down my face.
But what I do know is that acceptance is key to survival whatever our circumstances. While anger, accusation and lashing out might have their place, often they are merely futile, or exhausting. And we have seen too much of it recently haven’t we? That kind of impotent fury written between every line on social media. Keyboard warriors throwing arrogant tantrums. A disregard for the feelings of other people because furious heads forget that other people have feelings too. We have seen too much of it and we simply do not need it because it doesn’t further our cause anymore than silence does when conversation is necessary. We have to turn away from it.
So yes, acceptance. To me, acceptance is still. Once the thrashing of outrage, unjust behaviour, or simple disgust has passed, there is only stillness left. In politics as in families. In relationships, as in society. A return to self that says the solution is dignity and firm faith in what we believe to be true. A return to self that does not shut out alternative truth, but considers it from a place of love. For those who are hurting. For those who believe what cannot be true. Of for those who are simply misinformed.
Today then. Daffodils so pale and pretty they are almost white in a glass jug hand-painted with blots of purple and red roses. Daffodils for my Mum, because in a few days it will be six years since she died. Six years. A chocolate chip loaf like the one she used to make. (Though my chocolate chips sink and we have do declare my effort a chocolate upside down cake!). Another episode of WandaVision with my boy. Quiet clapping in my head for Ste who is knee deep in essay writing and still manages to fit our lives in too. Surfaces scrubbed with lemon and lavender. The Dig lined up for some point over the weekend. New ideas bubbling in my head.
Spring is knocking on our door here. My morning perusal of the garden revealing a gift from Ste who planted all the borders with daffodils for me as a surprise. And now they stand tall, ready at any moment to nod hello. To smile at me as I wander about, tea in hand, inspecting this and pulling out that. Aching for grass dry enough to be mowed. For the pandemic to go away so I can escape these four walls and shop slowly for that which will delight the garden again this year.
I miss shops. I miss Kath. And Debbie and Lisa. I miss family gatherings and walks on the beach. But I know it is coming back. I know it, but not knowing when is what undoes me most. I am not good with uncertainty. It feels like punishment to me. When Ste or Finley leave the house I ask them when they will be back and sometimes they mistake my question for possession or control. But it is never about that and always about soothing my own anxiety. I like my own company enough to not mind if they said they would be returning three years next Tuesday, but I need to have the end in sight, so I can be at peace in the meantime. Uncertainty undoes me. Uncertainty is enough to paralyse me so I can not do much beyond wonder when it will stop.
In that too, acceptance is key. Though I think the phrase a new normality makes many of us cringe, it is better to accept what is, and to appreciate what has been than it is to waste time mourning what cannot currently be, isn’t it?
So today I am telling myself that if this is it, if this is what we have now, then this is enough. That it might not stop or that when it does it might not look the same. That no end exists, because ends rarely do: when what ever we are enduring passes, who we were is often vanishes with it, but we have by then already moved on anyway. And that’s ok, because it is how we grow. It is how societies shift and leave behind all that is toxic for a better tomorrow. It is how we are able to see what has been damaging, destructive and not for the greater good.
Right now I am wearing fluffy slippers and a long-sleeved t-shirt with a hole in it that I will not bin for love nor money. There is a late lunch at my side: a plate of feta and beetroot crackers and a cup of rosehip tea. I am tired and grateful for our happy home. For the calm inside these four walls. For a man-child who never stops smiling. For the certainty of each other. And for friends and the family that have supported me this week. For the man who took time out of his own life to offer me legal advice I so needed. For the beautiful lady who offers stern words and bullies me to eat! For lifelines in Whatsapp and hugs sent down the phone. For all of it. I am not good at asking for help but sometimes crisis’s demand I set aside my stupid independence and ask others to carry me if only for a while.
It is Friday night. There will be pizza and the family I have made for myself. Candlelight, red wine and a messy life I will always, always treasure, even when it hurts.