My family has every advantage to get us through a pandemic: a spacious home, a stocked pantry, multiple electronic devices per family member, and plenty of good humor to go around. I am the envy of my immigrant child-self! And yet, somehow I find myself languishing in some embarrassing self-pity. I had to really unpack these feelings over the last few months. How can I possibly feel anything but grateful?
Comparative suffering, toxic positivity, the ideas that, “I don’t have it so bad especially compared to *insert worse off person or group here*” is destructive to well-being. I had to recognize that my family and I, and really all of humanity, are cycling through stages of grief and need to be allowed to feel all the things. While things are “fine.” they are also ALL. TOO. MUCH.
We are all home constantly, using every inch of the house, every scrap of food, and every dish in the cupboards. I have to clean the bathroom 6 or 7 times a day, and let’s not even talk about laundry. How can four people use so many clothes when we aren’t even leaving the house?
Meanwhile, there is an onslaught of devastating data coming in through every outlet. I’m an empath; I’m not just witnessing the suffering of others, but I’m really feeling it. Whether I’m talking my son through the crushing loneliness of being apart from his friends, letting my daughter have another half hour of phone use to connect with her friends, or giving my husband an hour to get out of the house, I also have to remember to give myself some care and compassion.
For me, that looks like taking a long walk and calling a friend or family member. Connecting with others is my salvation. I may start off with a list of grievances, but by hearing what my loved ones are experiencing and unpacking our feelings together, I find genuine relief. Connecting, empathizing, remembering that the power of love can reach beyond space, time, disease, injustice, and the overwhelming challenges of the human condition are therapeutic and restorative. And just like that everything is “fine” again…even when it is also all too much.