Covid-19 has brought us a new way of being.
In some ways, many of us have established a certain level of comfort, even complacency. over the months in quarantine to slow the curve of the Novel Coronavirus. We have adapted to a new level of solitude and quiet. Yet, despite this, there is an accompanying sense of “antsy”, agitation and simply, as several of the couples with whom I counsel have noted mostly recently, “we’re on each other’s nerves”. Sheltering in place has now transitioned to a time to leave and begin to integrate back into the world. But not the world as we knew it; perhaps a somewhat different world. A world marked by a pandemic with symptoms of it everywhere… masks, gloves, social distancing, and more.
In mid-May, Florida announced plans for re-opening. On that Monday. those with whom I counsel became immediately anxious, in fact quite fearful, almost terrorized. They asked . . . how they were going to navigate the new world and stay safe simultaneously. How were they going to resume life with many losses of loved ones or of behaviors they were accustomed to doing. Many of my patients immediately questioned the safety of the world outside the haven in which they had for many months remained quarantined.
For Chris, a sex addict, the lockdown has been a blessing. He has not had the opportunity to act out… visit prostitutes and seek out happy endings. The notion of “opening up” provokes terror for him and he has not yet established the strength to turn away from that which allows him to receive pleasure and avoid pain.
For Janice, whose mother passed recently from a long-standing illness Covid-19 unrelated, it was painful. Unable to have a standard ritual for burial and without her distant siblings, she grieved alone. Stepping out into a world in which her only support for her loss was via a screen is now sad; hugs are limited if non-existent.
For Diane and Robert, and Alan and Lynn, the notion that they now might spend all Summer in South Florida without their children or grandchildren and in the heat, humidity, and hurricane season, is unbearable. For them, there is no place to escape without the fear of getting the virus. And for most of my grandparents the biggest issue… not having the opportunity to hug, no less be around, their grandchildren is disheartening.
Brandon has immediate family in the synagogue and 150 relatives and friends on zoom for his Bar-Mitzvah. And Margaret had her 60Th while Andrew had his 65th birthday with family and friends on zoom. Aaron attended a zoom Shiva while Lauren greeted her first grandchild on facetime. And for Morgan, she faces a summer indoors, with little possibility of the summer up north with friends hiking and playing in the open space with her closest of friends.
That camps would be closed, kids would be home, many were out of work or working remotely, and many of the snowbirds are to remain, leaves a different view of what the summer would look like in South Florida. Gone are the many trailers that carry cars back up north for Summer and Fall.
Within the context of a new world here in the Tropics, many are uncertain what living will look like, despite what the government parameters are defined. I gather this is the situation across the globe and not limited to South Florida.
For this period in all of our lives has challenged many but for all one thing . . . certainty, identified by Tony Robbins as one of six human needs. For us all, particularly for those who value this the most, there is uneasiness and ambiguity, something which these of all people have difficulty with sustaining. That said, this is essentially what we don’t have. Perhaps this is a lesson in learning how to be present with what is. Yet we don’t know what it will look like. The history of this has not yet been written.
For 7 Ways to Ease the Transition read here.
For more about Anxiety, treatment read here.