I am no stranger to the emotional waves that seem to be a constant part of life (at least for me). Even though there is an occasional strong wave that often leaves some disaster in its wake, life’s ongoing current has become normal to me. Seasonal, situational, and yes, I am sure some chemical factors that I have come to understand continually affect the rise and fall of my mood. About a month ago, we experience something unlike anything else we have ever gone through. Life as we knew it came to a grinding halt. My life’s current semi-predictable and mundane routine, with its occasional surge, just stopped moving altogether. School, work, shopping, volunteering all ended and we (all of us) were forced to function within this new dynamic.
On an average day, I had at least 3 sometimes more people in my home, in addition to the current 7 who live here. Instead of being able to employ additional people to assist my husband and me (which I have been getting used to doing), I must look to our household to complete any task we require assistance with. I (we) are extremely lucky that just a few years ago this small but full house of support was created. I find myself thankful for so many aspects of my life at this trying time. Even though I am continuously thankful, it does not mean that I am not affected and somehow am at peace with the world’s current situation. I am not OK. I am struggling. My waves of emotion are very choppy at best, and every morning I wake, questioning my inner temperament.
Each morning I put my shoes on, pull myself to a sitting position with the use of my bed rail, and pivot transfer into my wheelchair and as uncertain as to my backside making direct and smooth contact with my seat cushion is my day’s mood. I use my sons’, as always, as motivation to stay positive and maintain as much normalcy in our days. Although a lot of my personal routine remains the same, with the exception of my few outings, having the rest of the people in my house here every moment of every day is very different for me. At least in my 4 person family, I am the constant cheerleader. I truly value that my “boys” (husband and sons) have come to rely on my actions and words as comfort and safety. The role although valued is trying and demanding at times.
Now when I am crammed in this little house, with even less time to process and digest my initial reactions, such as sadness, frustration, and inadequacy, alone, I feel like I am being expected to always be upbeat and positive. My ability to be prepared to emotionally support my family, and basically anyone who enters my house on a regular basis, I rely heavily on that time alone. I fondly call it me “puttering”, going around the house putting things where they go, dishes in the dishwasher, picking out clothes, starting dinner, all the behind the scenes prep. needed to make things run so smoothly in my house. Often the behind the sense time is the true “magic” behind preparedness, ability to maintain routines, and most importantly work through my daily emotions.
One month (about) into this and I am learning to build in this precious time into my schedule, as well as, other values I find important to me no matter what the social situation. In addition, I am learning the hierarchy of values held by my family. Weirdly enough their list and mine tend to differ. This in retrospect feels like a concept that should be obvious, but it is interesting how life can get so busy and you never seem to have time to address “the smaller” issues. For example, why try to find time to have someone change the sheets on all three of our beds every week, when I am the only person in my family finds it of value. It is stress-relieving when you are able to relax some of your own (unneeded) rigidness and compromise. In return, my family is being privy to my daily process. They are finding out the planning and work that goes into making a family dinner from scratch, which we have all identified as a value.
I realize the very state of our lives outside of our homes’ is unknown. When will life return to normal? What will be considered normal now? Will I and other high-risk individuals be able to leave our homes? These are just some of the questions I have daily. the frustration of having no answers and control is a running theme in my life. This time though, I have experience on my side. I am choosing to use this experience to my advantage. I am learning from, and strengthing my relationships with, people at the heart of my village. Stay safe and love each other.