Lately, it seems, life has been as hard as it’s ever been. The isolation of this pandemic has felt crippling at times and I’ve felt like I am hanging on by a thread. There is so much I have to be grateful for, and our situation could be infinitely worse for sure. In my case, I am really talking specifically about the isolation of being a single parent quarantined without any social or support constellation. It’s been 44 days. 44 days since I have been around another adult. 45 days since I have had any alone time.
I am grateful I can work from home, but trying to work and help the kids continue their education is incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. I am desperate to have an in-person adult conversation, another adult to play a board game with or watch a movie with, or a babysitter so I could be alone for a bit. If you are a single parent in this quarantine who is an introvert, you know this struggle. Introverts need time alone to recharge their batteries, but in this situation, there is none. By the time the kids go to sleep, I have nothing left. I try to wake up super early to get things done before they wake, but this quarantine situation is making it difficult to sleep at night, which means waking up early requires functioning on very little sleep.
Many people reading this may not be single parents in this situation and if this is you, I acknowledge you are going through VERY hard things during this time as well that just look different than this. We all are. I describe my situation though for those of you who can relate, so if you are struggling like I am, you know you are NOT alone. This. Is. Miserable.
This situation, or whatever hard looks like for you, is enough to make us feel powerless. This is a cause for concern. Brene Brown wrote, “We are most dangerous to ourselves and to the people around us when we feel powerless. Powerlessness leads to fear and desperation.” This is scary. The pandemic is already scary in many other ways.
One of the hardest parts about life is not having control; or feeling like we do not have control. Benjamin Disraeli said, “What we anticipate seldom occurs; What we least expect generally happens.” And of course, Margaret Mitchell wrote, “Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.” Boy, is that the truth. It seems expectations sure can lead to a lot of conflict and disappointment. I expect my kids to do certain chores without complaining. No luck. I expected my kids to understand that I need to work to support them and that requires me to actually be on a piece of technology working versus playing with them as much as I would like. No luck. I expected to be able to create and follow a routine that would give us some sense of normalcy during this “anything, but normal” time. A little luck there actually. Some days.
The examples we can see of unmet expectations are countless. It is these unmet expectations that are enough to make us feel powerless and our powerlessness can lead us to despair. “Despair is a spiritual condition. It’s the belief that tomorrow will be just like today.” That is from Rob Bell. Wow, doesn’t that just sum it up?! “Groundhog Day” has become a buzzword right now. We all feel it. We want and try to make the best of it, but It. Is. Hard.
The hardness of this situation we’re going through feels drenched in emotion. The hard of the isolation and the exhaustion and the lack of support, and for some, much more, but as Brene Brown said, “Moving out of powerlessness, and even despair, requires hope. Hope is not an emotion: It’s a cognitive process…” Even though you may feel overcome with emotion, hope, something of a different breed, is the answer. Brown goes on to say, “Hope happens when we set goals, have the tenacity and perseverance to pursue those goals, and believe in our own abilities to act.”
So here is the thing: The goals we had before Covid-19, they may not be possible right now. We may have to put them on hold. Or we may just be maintaining progress on them, but not really moving forward how we would like. That is out of our control. However, we CAN and SHOULD set and have new goals, Covid-19 goals, specific for this time and for us personally. The goals will look different for all of us. There is no right or wrong answer and like all goals, they are malleable. We can adjust as we go along and learn through our effort. The key is just to have a goal. If you have a goal for this time, you have a purpose. Sometimes, a purpose is just what we need.
Dreaming on purpose,