Updated: Aug 10, 2020
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced some level of anxiety with the rise of COVID-19. But I think some of us may have underestimated the sadness that would come as the pandemic matured. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in therapy it’s that the only way to move on from things like sadness, or even anger, is it to allow yourself to fully experience that emotion.
Obviously in order to fully experience an emotion you need to come to the realization that that emotion exists in the first place. For me, coming to that realization took a few different experiences over the last week. But I want to use this opportunity to tell you about the experience that caused me to cry for first time since all of this began.
Yes, I cried. I didn’t even see it coming. I’m so blessed that I haven’t lost any family, friends, coworkers or really anyone I know directly. But I cried nonetheless and it happened when I saw what I can only describe as the LOVE and FEAR that a man feels for his grandmother. I was in my kitchen preparing something for dinner when I heard yelling coming from downstairs on the street. I looked out and saw a young man and an older woman standing face to face. The yelling grew louder and so I opened my window to hear what was going on. I wondered if I needed to call for help.
What I heard broke my heart. The man was begging his grandmother to go back inside. He kept repeating “you need to go back inside, it’s not safe for you out here.” The older woman seemed confused and frustrated. She was dressed up as if she intended to do some shopping on her own. She was visibly elderly, perhaps in her 80s. He continued to plead with her, “grandma, please go inside, you’re gonna get it!” Frustrated, she continued to push past him. She even slapped him with her purse to get him out of her way. I imagine she felt angry and confused and perhaps didn’t fully understand why he wasn’t letting her go. The man couldn’t stop his grandmother and she left down the sidewalk. He collapsed to the ground, dropped his head between his legs, and began to sob loudly. The crying was loud enough for me to hear all the way up in my kitchen. He then yelled out “What the f*ck is happening!” And just screamed this loud shriek in total frustration, fear and hurt.
THIS BROKE ME. I closed the window and went to the lobby of my building to get the mail. I think I was pretending that seeing that didn’t impact me. But it did. Suddenly, I started crying. And I said out loud to myself, “My God that was sad”. This is sad. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This isn’t normal.
When I got back upstairs I said to my roommate, “seeing that made me so sad”. I let myself feel that emotion. This is what I learned to do in therapy and I was practicing it because this is how we survive. We need to allow ourselves to feel sad. We need to allow ourselves to feel broken, even for a few minutes. Once we accept that we are sad and temporarily broken, we can heal and move on from this. And we will move on. This will end and life will go back to somewhat normal. And no, it won’t be how it was before. Nothing ever is exactly how it was before because when we experience things, it changes us. And this has changed all of us. But we will get through this because we are all in this together.