When people ask me how I’m doing, dealing with the current state of isolation in light of COVID-19, I almost want to laugh.
This? This is nothing.
I don’t mean to diminish the challenges, they’re present. That said, I’ve walked through fire much worse than this, and recently. In many ways, I’ve been in training for this moment. I’ve learned how to be thick-skinned. I’ve learned that I’m adaptable. I’ve learned to be the master of my own mindset. I’ve gotten used to making do with limited resources. I’m trained in the art of being grateful for what I have.
To summarize this fire I referenced, I came out of a traumatic divorce a few years ago. When the problems between me and him came to a head, there were aggressive anger issues that could not be ignored. There was financial infidelity that I was just beginning to uncover. When I left, and at my lowest point, I found myself with a child, no home, and no job (I’d left a successful career to be a stay-at-home parent, trusting my partner with our finances. I discovered the bills, multiple credit cards, and two cars put under my name, as well as extensive debt to the IRS. My parting gift? A smashed windshield that he refused to pay to fix—and he was the one with the impressive income.
I felt like the shadow of a person. It felt completely surreal at times. I was lucky to be able to move into my parents’ tiny spare room (with my child) while I reeled from what I had just experienced and craft a plan. I had to get out of my emotions and into the work it was going to take to get my life back. I had to rebuild my professional career out of the shambles that my life had become. I had to make a life not just for me, but for my son. Through reading books on spirituality and personal development, I was aware that I needed healing and a life-overhaul. My healing would require real honesty and inner work, and to create a life I wanted, I’d also have to get up out of my little shadow of a self and do some things every single day.
I had to take action and build routine, when most days I just felt like crying. I felt small and afraid, but I had to look for jobs and go on interviews and be perceived as a person who was capable and ready. This required some “fake it ‘til you make it” as well as finding the place deep within me that was calm and still. I had to believe in myself regardless of how things looked from the outside or how I felt in the moment. I learned to be mindful about how I perceived my situation. For example, I’d moved back in with my parents as an adult (the hallmark of failure in our culture), but told my son how lucky we were to be able to spend so much time with his grandparents, when some kids only saw their grandparents a few times a year at best.
So, when life began to change and become restricted due to COVID-19, I didn’t hesitate to adapt quickly and choose how I would perceive the changes. I’ve already done major life adaptations on the fly, regardless of my feelings. This is what I do: Gym closed? Okay, I work out in my tiny hallway now. Ran out of toilet paper? Wash your ass in the tub. (Like a bidet, it’s fancy. Mindset.) Wait in a long line outside of the grocery store? I’m still thankful that I have money for groceries at all, and music to listen to while I wait. When I got my initial return-to-the-rat-race job after my divorce, I commuted two hours each way to make it happen. You do what you have to do and you learn to make it tolerable.
In the experiences that I’ve had, I’ve learned that I’m much stronger than I feel in any given moment. In my life, I’ve had to make quite a lot out of very little. I’ve had to get savvy around what’s possible and make terrible feel fun, all while modeling resilience and mindset for my child.
And I did. I’m still doing it. It’s hard but turns out I’m harder. You are too.
So this isolation? Ha! Come at me, bro.