Covid-19 and the Unconscious Undercurrent

Apr 9, 2020


I awoke after a solid night’s sleep feeling somber and saturated with emotion; as if a sponge filled with liquid, that if you touched it anywhere, it would overflow.  My morning routine, part 1 began, and I reached for my iphone to allow myself to read the NYTimes morning coronavirus updates – no more than 30 minutes. Tears were welling up.  I then moved to routine part 2 to find the multitude of messages from family and friends – some scientifically based, some helpful practices, some humorous and all with a caring intention and call to connect in our human-ness. 

Suddenly I was struck with an overwhelming wave of sadness that swelled to a deep, deep despair. The tears flowed freely from the bottom of my soul with that deep, deep tightening of my abs happening until you have to take a breath and let it all go.  It was a good release—- and an AHA — but I was still filled with swirling thoughts and emotions.

I was compelled to pick up my pen and journal. The words flowed as I scribbled across the pages acknowledging the many emotions and stress I had locked away– I let it all go, again. It was a myriad of thoughts, events and emotions past and present.  Feelings of fear of what next, a family member or another friend becoming desperately ill, our unknown future, sadness, grief with all that has changed and is yet to change, who knows what is to become in the vastness of uncertainty with when this will end, what will happen while at the same time feelings of regret for things, events, done or left undone from the past. I acknowledged I’d been doing a ‘good job’ of compartmentalizing life with COVID 19 in our midst and choosing to be positive and focused in the moment.

Then, as I reflected on what I had written, I was struck with the reality that my stress and emotion was in two piles. The first being daily changes of life with this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that is in our faces screaming at us.  The other pile I dumped on the paper is an expression of the unconscious uncurrent of stress, thoughts, regrets, emotions that I live with but I haven’t bee necessarily acknowledging.  The sponge of emotion was sooo full with both piles of stuff that I couldn’t move forward.

The Sunday morning somber awakening, routine and writing was a huge wake-up call. A call to ME that I need to make space in my heart, mind and body to deal with the emotion, uncertainty, fear and grief of living with this pandemic – for however long we must. To make that space, I need to clear out the undercurrent of stress I am unknowingly carrying around and allowing to pollute my mind, body and spirit. Things that I thought I’d dealt with, were over with, but OH NO  — still linger in the shadows.  I get the image of a can that you just can’t quite scrape all the tomato paste or whatever off the sides. It lingers and if left to linger rots and pollutes. Like the sadness and fear and grief of having gone through a year of cancer treatment over 20 years ago and the joy of surviving – hope.  

So, yesterday and yet again today, I’ve written ‘my story’ getting really in touch with two piles of stuff – events, emotions whatever. In reflecting again what comes up is what matters most to me – what silver threads in my tapestry of a life are my rocks to hold tight to.  I seek wisdom in reflecting on the beautiful life of my Grandmother Phillips whose husband of only 6 months died in the Spanish Flu epidemic that began in 1918. She did what mattered, what she valued, with purpose and intention and caring for herself, her family and others. Thinking of her life, having survived a pandemic over a century ago gives me hope. 

One of my mantras, if you will, are ‘things are neither good nor bad, they just are and what can I do about it, learn from it.’  There is much to be done and learned, yet again for me.   My writing has risen as a vital priority and daily practice, right now, so I can emerge from these times being well, living with clear purpose.  I hope you will pick up your pen and try it – for your health and well-being, now and  forever……Diane