“The Waiting is the Hardest Part” – Tom Petty, Song The Waiting
The first two weeks of sheltering in place were unsettling. Yet, there was much to do to occupy your mind. You had to stock up, be resourceful, move your outside life inside, and make new routines. Once settled, the waiting set in. As Tom Petty points out, it might be the hardest part.
Waiting leaves you to wonder how long this will go on. It makes you ache for normalcy, security, and connection. It can take things from you like a job, financial security or aspects of your identity. It rips away your projects and puts important things on hold. And it can leave you sick with worry.
As you wait, the grief for all that is lost sets in, even if those losses are temporary. Grief rumbles beneath the surface, waiting to break through when you least expect it. It shows up in irritability with loved ones, fears that keep you up at night, disordered eating patterns, and upset that comes out of nowhere.
My grief came to the surface the other day as I wiped down my groceries. While wondering how much washing is enough for a head of lettuce, I got really mad. I've learned to ride the wave of my feelings. So I went with it. I sensed how sick I am of being vigilant about what I touch and trying to outsmart the virus where it hides. And I indulged a fantasy of dumping my groceries in the middle of my driveway and blasting them with the power hose I use to wash my car. They would fly around the neighborhood while I yelled obscenities at Covid-19.
It felt good to get my grief off my chest. For a moment, I didn’t have to be grateful that I am lucky. Or, think about silver linings. I was mad - just like some of you are. And our angry feelings are just as valid as our gratitude and hopefulness.
If you are experiencing grief attacks, know that they're a normal response to change. As your feelings come up, don't judge them. Think of them as waves. Jump on and take the ride as they rise and fall. And know that sometimes a fantasy about blasting the enemy is exactly what you need to get through the day.
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Hi. I’m Alison Ross, founder of Non-Dieting Health in Agoura Hills, California. I’m a licensed psychotherapist and neurofeedback practitioner specializing in eating and body image. My favorite things are my family, my dogs, yoga and working with my clients.
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