Making a Difference in a Time of Dis-Ease
The rise of dis-ease
Over the last weeks, we have awakened daily to the rising of dis-ease. The blurry edge between fact and fabrication has brought us to question our questions. It has activated the sort of fear that causes toilet paper to be prized ahead of reason and parity. It has let us feel the threat of insufficiency that millions of our neighbors live with every day. Access to food, health services, connection with community, and the warmth of compassion are privileges in our society. We exist in a perpetual state of imbalance, the reality of which we keep in abeyance until our own status quo has been disrupted. And here we are.
In the days and weeks ahead, many of us will feel the frustration of helplessness. The intensity of our feelings will be dictated by our relative level of fear or calm. While a vast majority of us will not have a direct hand in dictating policy or developing a vaccine, none of us is without the ability to make a difference. The examples we offer in our own homes may feel small in the face of a global crisis, but as the crisis of dis-ease recedes, the ways in which we managed it at home will have lasting impact.
This is a time of transition
Transition can be destabilizing. Let your home be a sanctuary. Create softness. Make room for moods. It doesn’t matter if your children have been sent home from preschool or from college, they are feeling abrupt uncertainty. Meet them with openness. Be curious about their experience. Allow it. Let your presence communicate safety. They will take it with them when it is time for them to return.
You are their security. They want to please you but trying to satisfy someone else’s needs stirs up distress. Allow them to de-stress. Let them be. So what if they leave their clothes on the floor and their beds unmade? Let them crawl into your lap for one more snuggle, even if it’s for the 14th time. Routines are important but showing them that they matter most of all will come back to them later – maybe when they go back to school, maybe much later, when their own children face uncertainty.
Given devices, disinterest, and over-scheduling, it has become easy to exist in the same house without really being together. Let social distancing stop at your front door. Use the unexpected family time to re-connect. Listen to music together. Sing out loud. Move together. Look at a sunset. Count raindrops. Tell stories. Have a conversation. Go for a walk. Play. Let them see you laugh! Create experiences they’ll want to share when they are at dinner with their grandchildren.
None of us is going to get it right all the time
There will be chaos, loud noises, big messes, and lots of anxious moments. There will be tension, boredom, bickering, and misunderstanding. At times we may feel like we will break. A collective nervous system in a state of extreme dysregulation, we are at odds with the unknown. By giving the gift of perspective and intention at home, we position ourselves to avoid a massive meltdown both at home and in the world.
We live in a perpetual state of imbalance, of dis-ease, but we’ve normalized it such that it is easy not to notice those who are teetering downward, about to fall. Now is the time to change that. If you know someone who is struggling, reach out. None of us is without the ability to make a difference. Security, kindness, compassion, laughter, and joy are enduring. Pass them on.
ATN blog manager’s note: find more information about COVID-19 and trauma here