Throughout this time of Covid-19, I have been cajoled in a corner of reflection. I learnt a few things about myself: I have a problem. I have been hiding from myself for years; behind the busyness of work, volunteer work, travelling, and visiting friends and family. Perhaps, they were all a method of subconscious distraction. Covid-19 has shown me that this inner dissatisfaction with my work, that doesn’t go away even when I change jobs, is the result of my inner problem. But, rather than facing myself, woman to woman, I have been filled with anxiety. Yes, I was scared. The thing is, I didn’t even know I had a problem.
Since March when the Ministry of the Attorney General closed its doors, the staff were committed to an on-call schedule, more or less, once or twice a week. That’s when anxiety set in. What was I going to do now? In fact, I indirectly requested my supervisor to let me come in to work more. Work had been my routine, and I was used to it. Routines and structures help to get me through each day, like a faux sense of control on life. So now what?
Each day for the next two months, I tended to wake up approximately seven o’ clock in the morning, with the sound of my Alexa device playing music. I started with my disciplined devotions, which consisted of reading the bible and praying. I set my intentions for the day, and a schedule to go with it: Walking/yoga, Spanish, Bible study, Personal self-care, Connect with family, Entertainment, Journalling, and of course time for meals preparation. Yes, it’s been exhausting, and the regimented approach left no room to feel bored, or having to think about my own feelings.
To be honest, I gained new perspective from all of the “stuff” I was doing. Like, I learnt to cook new cuisines; fish soup, and other seafood dishes, guacamole dip, and others. I even started to make time to maintain my hair and nails. I took to shaving, tweezing and plucking regularly. These were the things I didn’t have the patience for, and preferred paying for the services whenever I felt desperate for some self-love. I also realized that it was cold in my basement apartment, I know, right?! I wasn’t really here much, so it didn’t affect me. One morning, I joined the long line at Wal-Mart and purchased an oscillating standing automatic heater. I can’t believe all the functions on one heater. I only had to set it at my desired temperature, and never touch it again. I felt I was taking care of myself. I started assessing my own self image, and making purchases I normally would not have the time for; making online purchases of make-up, new prescription glasses, or things I needed around the apartment. And I was feeling great about myself for doing it, proud even! But then, after month two, I dove deeper into my inner self, the place I feared most, the place that made me, lonely.
By month two, loneliness set in. Not like a bulldozer, more faint, like a tiny flicker of light. With most of the major distractions out of the way, I felt it profoundly. There was a small dip in my mood, two days in a row. It was like all the things I was doing, even though they had me feeling good, I sensed that I was not great. What was my problem? How could I possibly feel like this when I had so much to do? For the entire day, I had no motivation to do any of the things on my list. I didn’t even feel like cooking, and I didn’t. I had a packaged soup for lunch, and leftovers for dinner. By evening, I decided to go for a walk while talking to a seasoned friend. He said,
Look over your life and see what your strengths and weaknesses are. This will help you figure out what is next for you.Dr. Rupert Francis
I wanted to tell him I already did that. And I didn’t really plan on doing it again. But, before bedtime, and just after yoga, this still small voice got my attention. Get your journal and reflect on your life, all your accomplishments and disappointments. So, I sat on my yoga mat, and took to writing.
I couldn’t stop writing. After going through the journey of my life, all the questions popped up. Why do I distract myself with all these extracurricular activities/volunteer work ever since high school? Why do I want to solve the problems of the world, my workplace or family dysfunctions? Why do I think it’s my job to do all this? All the questions poured down like rain, questions I had never thought of before. Why am I driven to even work in the Criminal Justice system? Then I wrote down answers to them, to the best of my knowledge. When there wasn’t any answers, the still small voice said,
Fixing other people’s or organization’s problems, is not Your responsibility. You weren’t made to do that.Holy Spirt
You do not have to try to be useful by busying yourself with so much each day. Just relax.Holy Spirit
Are these what my problems are? I am afraid to feel useless? Is that the inner struggle I had been having all these years? This is like a Martha syndrome. Remember in the bible, when Martha was busy in the kitchen preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciplines, while Mary was sitting by Jesus’s feet, listening? What did Jesus say?
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10: 41-42
Mary chose to relax at Jesus’ feet and leave the work for someone else. Someone else can fix the problems of the world, the workplaces, or the family dysfunction. It is not up to me. I only just need to relax. What a reassurance! The burden can be removed from my shoulders and I am allowed to do nothing, or even better whatever I want to do during COVID-19.
This doesn’t mean that I will become a couch potato, or that I am going to become a sloth. It just means that I am allowed to not have to worry, feel anxious, or useless for any reason.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.Matthew 6:34
In conclusion, I am happy to have gone through this difficult season of COVID-19. It brought with it a flood of emotions, it gave me time to reflect, to shift priorities, and hopefully to become a better person. Indeed, I will come out of this pandemic with 2020 vision.