A thousand years ago, when Sandy hit NYC, I connected with a few Coveners and we came up with a plan.
We would all weather the storm together at one of our homes. We gathered food, books, and games and all piled in together. At first, it was fun. But the following day, without power or heat, stranded away from home while the bridges and tunnels remained closed, nerves quickly frayed and tempers were short.
Before we knew it, end, we were snapping at one another. The whole endeavor eventually just melted down into tears.
We were just done.
In the weeks that passed, while the subways were still flooded, many people were sick with lung crud, and it wasn’t always possible to even know if everyone you knew were alive as cell service was out in many areas, any sense of that original good will had ran thin. We were collectively sick of the situation, stressed, and reverting to being children. When kids are overwhelmed and tired, they throw toys or lay on the floor in a screaming tantrum. When adults are overwhelmed and tired, they throw harsh words and slam doors (and sometimes also lay on the floor in a screaming tantrum).
I’m watching the same thing happening, now.
When the social distancing measures began, one of my podcast co-hosts noted that people had just stopped their online nonsense and the trolling had decreased. People had just stopped being mean.
Check out our most recent episode, here! It’s all about aromatherapy, as well as ways to Witch during social distancing.
I agreed. My own timelines had been much calmer and kinder. But this past week, it seems as though the vitriol dial had suddenly been turned back to high. My timeline was far more, “I’m deleting all of you assholes today!!!” and far less “Reach out if you need help.”
Our patience with ourselves and with others, is quickly dwindling. That is normal. It is not a character defect.
It happened to me, yesterday.
Because I have my mom’s sewing machine, I decided to help my family by making masks for them. It seemed easy enough. I sewed once before, back in my costuming class in college (or so I could recall). But it turns out that I’m crap with a sewing machine. I broke a needle, countless threads, and just kept screwing up, my masks looking like they’d been made by drunk elves. Toward the end of my attempted act of good will, I was in angry tears.
Things to do!: 10 Activities for Bored, Socially Distanced Witches.
I’m normally pretty patient with this kind of stuff. I am good at recognizing when I just need to watch one more YouTube video and try again. But I was dealing with the frustration that comes with being under these kinds of conditions.
Instead of just sitting with my fears and frustration over the situation, I took it out on my craft project.
Listen, we are all going to be in our feelings about this, in different ways. So often, we push our feelings away, perhaps not allowing ourselves to acknowledge them because “someone else has it worse.” Remember, someone always has it worse. This doesn’t negate your feelings.
Remember a few things:
It’s okay to be angry.
You’re not being ungrateful if you’re upset about not getting to do the fun things you planned. That doesn’t make you a bad person.
It’s okay to be scared.
There’s a fucking pandemic going on.
It’s okay to be sad, even if you haven’t (yet) lost someone to this virus.
Just knowing that it’s happening is still a sad thing.
More thoughts: 8 Ways To Cope During This Crappy, Crappy Time
It’s also okay to enjoy this time.
Maybe your life has been really intense and you’re getting some much-needed rest. This doesn’t make you a monster. You didn’t create this and you’re certainly not wishing the illness on the population. If this time is treating you well, it’s okay to soak it up.
Be mindful if you’re suddenly feeling unreasonably irritated with your quarantine partners.
They may not be acting as terribly as you think. You may just be sick of this situation.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline website is filled with resources, tips, and links to further information to help victims stay safe. They have a hotline for victims and survivors that is staffed around the clock. They invite those who are in need of assistance or support to contact them at 1-800-799-7233. They even provide an option for victims who feel they are unable to find a safe place for a phone call to log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
Remember that this is temporary.
Be gentle with yourself and those around you. The pandemic will pass and the restrictions will lift, but words hurled at others due to frayed nerves can last a lifetime. Be kind, be forgiving. We’re all in this together but remember, it’s going to end at some point.