Saturday, 3 October 2020

Lockdown reflections

A friend called me out on my complaining this week.

As most of you know I have struggled through lockdown and continue to struggle through the ongoing restrictions.  Phrases like "the new normal" set my teeth on edge and I want to throttle anyone to tells me that there is no going back to what we had before and that the virus will be with us forever. 

I enjoyed my life before lockdown.  I enjoyed seeing my friends and family, I enjoyed being able to do things spontaneously, I enjoyed socialising with other families, I enjoyed going to church and singing hymns. Living in our tiny house wasn't so bad when we were out of it most of the day at groups, other people's houses or visiting places, I have found spending more time at home with three children and an extra adult in the house all day (my husband working in our tiny bedroom) very challenging. I have had intense moments of cabin fever, wanting not only to run away from the house but to climb out of my own skin and just get away. But we've been trapped. 

That's how I've felt during lockdown: trapped. 

I have read often in messages from friends and on facebook that people have enjoyed lockdown.  All I could feel about this was envy and irritation. How can they find THIS enjoyable!! Don't they know how hard it's been for ME? How dare they say they've enjoyed it! 

And this is where my friend came in with her truth.  And I am so thankful for her insight.

"Your life was good before lockdown so lockdown is just a bad patch for you.  For the people who have enjoyed lockdown their lives were worse before and the lockdown is the good patch for them; and that's sad."

Lightbulb!

For some people lockdown has been like an oasis in the desert, compared to my relatively small shadow in the light, (apologies for the mixed metaphors).  There are people out there who have had to go to a miserable job everyday who have been furloughed or else been able to work from home for whom lockdown has been a huge relief and a rest, maybe they've got away from a mean boss or unpleasant coworkers and be able to relax and be themselves, there are people who have been able to spend time with their children that perhaps they never felt able to before due to school pressure, endless hobbies and clubs, and they have loved it.  There are people who have really enjoyed being able to spend time at home instead of  travelling away for work, there are people whose lives may have been so busy before that lockdown has given them the chance to pause and reflect on their lives. 

So while I have been busy moaning about how hard lockdown is for me, I should have been being thankful that my life was so good before and that lockdown in only temporary.  For me that bad bit is temporary, for other people the good bit is temporary.  Talk about food for thought.

I don't mean at all to sound patronising to people here, my life was good before but not perfect and I certainly don't mean to sound boastful or prideful about my life because it's not that at all.  It's gratitude, it's appreciation, it's thankfulness. It's feeling like actually I have got a lot to be happy about my life, as much as there are hard parts, like everyone else, overall, it's pretty damn good. 

Now there is no point in a moment of epiphany if one doesn't take something from it and change. How am I going to use this insight and make a difference in my life.  Here are some ways I am starting to make changes:

Stop moaning about how hard it all is, it's not as hard for me in lockdown as it is for some people normally, 

Tell myself that I enjoy cleaning and tidying for my family (fake it to make it!),

Make the best of the home we have, we are lucky to have one of our own despite how small it is, 

Enjoy my children as much as possible, I am fortunate to be able to home educate them, 

Craft a beautiful life.

                                          

My wise friend messaged me later and said this:

"Compare lockdown with food rationing during the war.  Families that were more well off, and could usually afford a wide variety of quality food, found rationing really difficult.  They were so unsatisfied with it because they were used to much better and much more food that that, and they tended to be the people that would buy stuff on the black market quite regularly.  However, the poorer working class families thrived during rationing because they were usually mal-nourished.  And so, they found that they were now getting more food than they'd ever had before.  A lot of them said "we've never had it so good!" By the end of the war the British nation was at its most healthy in terms of nutrition and cardio-vascular health as a result of rationing.  There was no gap in health between the rich and the poor.  Be like the poor people.  Proclaim to yourself: "we've never had it so good!"  Even if you don't feel like it."

                                          

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