Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I was once a productive person

I started writing this in my head a week ago. I actually thought I wrote it this weekend. I figured I'd do it this morning when I got up at 6:30. Here we are after 5. It may or may not say what I sat down to write. The grammar is probably questionable even for the conversational style I adopt here. My typical writing and posting times and checks are a little off I guess.

What the hell is NOT off?

Raise your hand if that sounds familiar in your Corona Land.

Even if what sounds familiar is just something being off. We're all coming to this quarantine or essential worker pandemic shitshow party with different thoughts, beliefs, fears, support systems, health, living situations, responsibilities, expectations, experiences, bank accounts. None of us is going through this coronavirus pandemic in the same way. We keep hearing and saying we're all in this together but we're not. I'm not sure if we all recognize that aspect.

I have it good. I am healthy. I can work from home. I have a home to work from that is fully stocked with food and necessities with all utilities on and current and of course dogs. I have a yard I can sit in, a neighborhood safe to walk in, a car I can escape to nowhere in. My husband can't work by order of the governor and the summer at the shore is up in the air rental-wise and my creativity has done a runner which makes working and writing difficult but by and large we are in a good spot. We have a lot to lose. 

Me being me and knowing myself and how I have always operated through everything life has thrown my way, at the beginning of this I was like cool cool, I'm going to get all the house projects done, and then all the shore projects done, and cook all the meals, and do all the beauty treatments, and catch up on all the correspondence, and clean all the corners of the house, and do all the work stuff I want to do but never have time to do, and exercise every day, and do so much writing on this blog and so much writing I am not ready to share with anyone yet. I am productive as fuck when I have very little spare time so the amount of things I was going to be able to do filled me with a small bit of glee. Okay, corona! This is your silver lining. That, and I will read eleventy billion books because all I have is time.

Two days into this quarantine and I realized that silver lining was rusted the fuck out from go because all I have is time in which I cannot focus on, well, anything. Even including the things I want to do, the books I want to read. I miss devouring books. A lot. And I'm pissed that the thing that keeps me from doing that is my own brain.

I am so used to being productive every day and reading two to three books a week that I feel like I'm living in a foreign body. At home, MFD and I have switched roles. He's prodding ME to do things. What planet is this? I am typically the driver of projects and the household motivator for a lot of things. He is probably doing the same amount that he always does but it feels like so much more because I have to force myself to do the smallest shit unless it’s lie on the couch eating candy from the candy cabinet I now have to replace cooking and nutrition. 

Over five weeks later I still battle many days to get through the day with some sense of something done. Most weekdays it's all I can do to work, then I'm exhausted and can do nothing at night. I seem to be in a three good days two off days cycle (that's the hell zone cycle I referenced here) unless the weather is gray or rainy for a sustainable period. The good days are good, and there's usually good even on the bad days but in non Corona Land I operate on a balanced, even keel and this shit has my boat overturned and I'm swimming for shore and getting whacked in the head with the oar every third day.

What is wrong with me? I have it relatively good, so much to be grateful frustrated with myself. Well, it turns out stress and the looping fight or flight reaction sequence from this entire situation is what is wrong with me, the same thing that's wrong with you if you have identified with any part of this post so far.

If you have, you might like this explanation from Alexis Rockley. You might also like her talking about this in more detail in this IG live video. It's 14 minutes, I listened to it while working, and it made me feel better about my inconsistency because it is what is helping me get through this even if it makes me feel very not myself.

She also shares temporary suggestions for getting through this (really, I recommend watching the 14 minute long video) which are 1) extend our timelines (leave room, let things happen more slowly) and expect you are going to be inexplicably tired - your brain is working hard to safeguard you in these unprecedented times (can we never hear that phrase again, thank you) and you need more rest and sleep simply to achieve baseline functionality 2) lower your expectations and celebrate when you meet the minimum, and 3) practice emotional first-aid. 

This was an a-ha for me. Valuing accomplishment and productivity in a space where accomplishment and productivity are hard to reach is a conundrum. My brain not clicking into the lower expectation gear is making every day harder on myself. 

All of the above are temporary suggestions just to get you through if you are feeling some kind of way that is not yourself and can be lifted or altered at any time as circumstances change. 

Because they will change. It might feel like it's been forever and maybe it feels like it will be forever more, but ready or not, we're going to open up again. Sooner than many think we should. Not soon enough for many.

And then?

I am worried about the impact this will have on us. Will my brain come back online to operate like it used to or will things from this time linger? Will I be able to get shit done again? Will MFD be able to grieve his mom by hugging people he needs to hug and be hugged by?

I'm even more worried for the people who already live like this all the time. People who have much less in this world than I do and who regularly worry about having access to things depending on money or location or opportunity or race or all of those things. Many of us have gotten a taste of what it's like to be facing a very different economic present than we typically face, whether it's because we're down an income, or suddenly without healthcare that was tied to a job, or because we're shopping in stores with bare shelves and feel cut off from what we have gotten so used to having access to that we have confused a lot of wants with needs, or because we've been told we can't access programs and places that we think should be available to us. That has worn us to the bone, quite quickly. Imagine living like that day in and day out, not being able to get what you need because you have no money or opportunity to make money, because you live in a neighborhood no one found worthy to invest in and it's become a food desert or you need a service that isn't accessible to you. Or imagine being out working as an essential person right now, day in and day out, having that mindfuck on top of the general quarantine mindfuck, and getting no hazard pay. Especially our essential healthcare workers. What are we doing? Imagine these things with the backdrop of corporations paying $0 in taxes, government posturing instead of working and all of their salaries added up from top to bottom, billionaires not paying their share, etc etc. It's too much. We can do better. We have to do better. I want to return to a new normal. Not the old one. The old normal was only working for some people.

We have to do better for ourselves and our neighbors. Right now we don't live in a world where everyone knows they're going to be okay no matter what happens because our communities and our government have safety nets for us as citizens and treat us better than they treat corporations. But we could live in that world. What is truly fair and equitable? Truly? Put yourselves in the shoes of other people and think about that question. How can we get to a place that is fair and equitable? How hard are we willing to work individually to get there?

Never too early to think about. Doing...those of us who find ourselves without the productivity we are used to can do more when we can feel productive again, of course.

For today? Right now? Just be human. Be kind to yourself.

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