It’s been almost 4 weeks since the news of Covid-19 got very real for me – SXSW had been cancelled, the NBA suspended the remainder of their season, and the Moontower Comedy festival was postponed. Also, a couple of days later my kids school closed a day early for Spring Break. We had planned to go to Mexico for Spring Break, but quickly realized that this shouldn’t happened and we rescheduled out trip for July, although we still feel like that may not happen. Everything felt, and still feels incredibly uncertain.
As a social worker, I remember past work and life experiences where I’ve had to stay calm and been able to help others manage with personal disasters or natural disasters. Covid-19 has felt and continues to feel different. I spend so much of my work with others talking about vulnerability and the importance of being genuine and honest with oneself. However, how was I ever going to be able to support my clients if I felt so uncertain and was experiencing the full human experiences of feeling every single damn emotion – including sheer terror at 3p every day.
Fortunately, I had already planned to be out of the office the week of Spring Break so that gave me some time to sit with what I was feeling and to plan to move all my sessions remote. As I emailed my clients about this change, I felt an incredible amount of anxiety and responsibility. How was I supposed to encourage my clients to honor what they are feeling when this was something that was proving to be so difficult for me.
It’s been two weeks now since I began offering sessions via a variety of different platforms. I’ve been searching to find the best one that offers the most privacy, provides the least number of glitches, and is easy to use. I haven’t found it yet. I also have 4 different pairs of headphones next to my computer and keep cycling through them to try to figure out the best ones to use. It’s been hard – but it’s been so good to be able to see my clients. I’ve been more real with my own experiences through this and shared how vulnerable this situation is in session.
As a relational therapist, I am able to lean into the relationships that have been established meeting face-to-face. It feels good and I’ve been able to connect with clients in a new way. By helping others meet their own uncertainties with compassion, it reminds me to be brave and to do the same. There is no right answer right now and everything is so completely uncertain. We have no idea how far we have to go, how long we will be a part from one another, and how far our economy will fall as the employment rate plummets. It reminds me of previous work that I did with disaster response. Typically, our response was after the disaster subsided but Covid-19 feels like we are still in the middle of a hurricane. We haven’t even hit the eye of the storm for some respite.
Right now, we need to provide compassion to ourselves as everything keeps swirling dangerously around us. This is terrifying. This hurts. This is almost too painful and feels unbearable at times, as we don’t know if we can continue to go on. But imagine in the same way if you’re holding a small child with a broken arm – we cannot make that pain go away, but we can hold that child with compassion and love during the pain, we can comfort. My hope is that we can all do that for ourselves in this moment and that soon we will be able to meet again.