They keep saying these are unprecedented times. And that’s true, but what they mean by that is that these are unprecedented times as a collective whole – for the world, our country, our states. There’s never been a worldwide pandemic in our lifetimes with this kind of ability to travel nationally and internationally and thereby spread the disease with a more feverish ability. And that is scary and truly unprecendented.
But it’s not completey unpredecented for me. I have lived through something that tore my whole world apart. I have had my world view shook. My reality changed overnight. My routine torn apart. Sure, comparing one family’s loss of a mother at a young age isn’t the same as a worldwide pandemic. But it is something that can be described as traumatic.
I saw this post from @findyourshinethearapy back when the pandemic was just strating to ramp up and it said, “If you’re a trauma survivor and are frustrated by how (well) you’re coping right now, it may be important to acknowledge that the very survival mechanism that feels unproductive to you now, is the same force that has allowed you to survive everything you have in your life up to this point. Your survival brain is working hard and, if you are reading this, it’s done a pretty good job.”
I found another that said if you’re feeling weirdly calm it could be because chaos feels familiar to you. These posts made me stop in my tracks a little. I haven’t been pissed, per se, that I have been acting pretty calm during this pandemic, but it did seem odd to me that so many people were so rocked by it.
Of course, this made me a little retrospective. I hadn’t really considered that my trauma had made me into the person I am now. I’ve always thought that this was just who I am. I was born this way and the moment I found my mom after her first seizure that day before school was sort of a turning point – a light bulb moment if you will – when I realized that that’s just how I am in a traumatic situation. Under pressure, I stay calm. I did in that moment and I have moving forward, but I sort thought that was just how my family dealt with these kind of situations. Not much you can do but move on is our unofficial family motto. That day some 16 odd years ago, it was like I went into survival mode. And it feels like I have for this situation as well.
I mean, in theory, there’s not a lot else one can do in this situation. I can just stay home and not panic…which I’ve been doing. Buy a tie dye kit. Start new routines with special takeout nights on Fridays and Saturdays. Paint a new watercolor once every other week. Create content for Instagram/blog. Start a TikTok.
But I also realize this is a bit of a mask. I have always been the one who when something bad happens to try not to dwell. I try to walk right through it. Keep myself busy. Projects make me feel better. They are how I cope.
It’s too early to sit in my feelings about how this pandemic brought up old feelings of trauma, but it’s good to at least acknowledge that it might be something I need to address with a professional in the future. Right now it just means writing a blog post. Connecting with my family and sister to be with people who went through the trauma with me. And to just be. And breathe.