I’m talking about connection today. I think the dictionary will probably describe it as the act of linking one thing or a person to another….or something along that line. If you see it that way, then our situation as is with Covid 19 isolation, is not totally bad and we are not totally isolated.
It’s very lonely though.
This is the first time in my life that I am in a prolonged situation with no adult to talk to face to face. I am not talking about pleasantries and polite salutations. We live in shared spaces and so there is always the mailman, the grocer, the neighbours passing by, and the occasional face here and there. These are faces you see once a week (or as often as you venture out for your necessities).
I am talking about that ear wanting to hear a joke, that mouth cackling in mirth or bellowing with (not at) you as the mood dictates it, those eyes gazing into yours and knowing or simply saying silently “We’re in this together and we’ll tough it out and come out of it in one piece”.
The kid has been having a hard time of it but unlike holding it all in as she is so wont to do, she is letting it out and so I let her cry often and whine, and I listen to her on repeat like a broken record, knowing that the record is on repeat but the player feels better afterwards and that makes me better.
My Italian family has called on a daily basis, face-timing for the most part. We have shared meals from our tables across the globe in real-time. There is 6 hours’ time difference so waking hours are limited but we manage to make the most of it.
My local friends live far away enough, that it is simply not safe to visit but we check up on each other and I work with an amazing team that do check in often as well, so yes, we are isolated physically and getting used to connecting with barriers in the form of gadgets, but it is still hard.
Every day is a surreal experience, it is a constant reminder of what being human really means to me. I doubt that the divine designer put all my senses in place for me to use it at this level of isolation. I find myself listening to a lot of recorded music that I otherwise enjoy but wanting to hear that in real-time, with the energy transferred directly from mouth to eat without the filter of technology. I want to see every member of my tribe in 3 dimensions, I want to reach out and register the warmth of living flesh. I want to smell their scents, even the putrid ones if only to register the realness of all that they are.
At the start of all this, my therapist asked me what I was most afraid of. I thought about it. The nagging thought for me at first was that I’d die and my kid would be an orphan, but the reality is, that is part of life. At some point, I’d be gone and she will indeed be an orphan, just like my folks are gone and I am one. Life and death, to a certain extend, is not in our control, so regrets about when it happens is a waste of time.
So with that thought in place, my focus was on what WAS in my control. And the only thing that came to mind was that it’ll be regretful to come out of this pandemic, or exiting from this realm (whichever comes first) with the knowledge that I didn’t attempt mending broken bridges.
‘And how do you do that?’ I was asked.
‘By taking responsibility for my part in it and reaching out? That would be a first step I think’, I said. It felt like the right answer at the time.
‘Do that then,’ I was told.
When I gave it much thought, later on, I found it most unpleasant. In my experience, broken bridges are never a solo act, just like building bridges aren’t. And on top of that, I didn’t like being wrong, I don’t take easily to being on the wrong side of broken bridges, being a spectator while the bridge got broken was more welcoming, but as Ihaleakala Hew Len points out often “Have you noticed that when something is wrong, you are there?” So yes, I did that which I hated the most (being responsible for my part in the damage) has been entrusted to me to fix.
For the most part, I have lived with integrity. I have come through life releasing offences and moving forward. That is not to say that no one is holding a grudge with me still; it simply means I have offered resolution and restitution as best as I can and let it go never to revisit. I couldn’t think of any situation but one that had an inkling of grudges on my part involved…one.
My gut reaction to that was to look away, quickly. It was still very raw and my ego said it was not deserving of resolution or restitution just yet.
But at what point and at what cost do I hold onto this unhealthy choice though? How does one extra discomfort make living through this pandemic easier? My therapist’s homework for me was to do something about it, and THAT was the whole point of therapy for me in the first place; to learn tools to aid me in healing and letting go and moving forward. There was never a promise that it’ll be agreeable or enjoyable.
So I self-talked myself into letting go of the ego because that was the one thing that stood in the way with the REAL reason why I wanted to hold on. Letting go of the ego was not easy, but with ego out of the way, clarity became a healing balm and it simply made no sense at all not to forge on this way. So I mustered up the courage, was as honest as I could be, and I reached out.
It was very awkward and embarrassingly clumsy, and most likely not elegantly presented but the apology was sincere and it was real. This one attempt at resolution and restitution has been a very unique experience for me. I have NEVER attempted resolution and restitution from a vulnerable place before, so doing it this time when I felt the rawest and at a disadvantage was weird, but weirder still was the swiftness at the release I felt in my soul.
No, the sentiment was not returned and no further discussion was held on the matter so there is still no process of rebuilding bridges, nor is there any attempt at removing the debris from that broken bridge. But I am surprisingly OK. Life is not always tidy and that is OK.
Brene Brown said (not verbatim) that relationships thrive when we seek to create balance. And balance is not necessarily about giving 50/50, but about being able to pony up the 80 when your other has only 20 to offer, knowing that when 10 is all you have, they’d pony up the 90 to meet yours. Communication though is key here. Because if all I have is 30 and I don’t tell you but assume you should know, and all you have is a 40 and you don’t tell me but assume I should know, then on that given time we will only be working with 70.
When there is better communication, not only do we know to pony up and meet the lesser on those less ideal days, in order to achieve the balance, but we’ll also most like have a plan in place knowing there will be days when we both are low, and have that plan ready to help us navigate those days in order to still find that balance.
Today, albeit the surreal feeling the day brings, I can sincerely say I am at peace. All willing and reciprocal connections are on clear paths and communication is thriving. Bridges that are broken and not wanting to repair or clean debris are left alone because that is how life happens sometimes and untidiness is not always a bad thing.
I continue to do my part in what needs doing to fight this pandemic. I keep away from people in shared spaces that find my presence an imposition (familiar and strangers alike). I live in hope that this will end and we’ll come out of it either in this realm or another. And yes, there is a morbid part of me that knows there is that very unwelcomed chance that we may not all come out of it in this realm. Heck, maybe I will be one of those exiting.
Whichever end I come out of this, I am at peace.
Peace begins with me.
©Naan Pocen 2020
P.S. If you are interested in listening to the interview with Brene Brown, follow this LINK