Tag Archives: challenges

The Other Side of the Couch – Denial in the Time of Pandemic

As the corona virus pandemic enters its third month, the United States continues to struggle with a coordinated response to the situation.  A strong federal response has been hampered by misinformation, ignored information, and struggles for power.  States have been essentially left to go it alone and as a result have been caught in some cases in a bidding war with other states to secure the essential protective equipment needed by health care workers and the essential medical supplies needed by patients.

The economic impact of the shut-downs required by social distancing have had catastrophic effects on the financial well-being of millions – and so often, the people who are most affected are those who can least afford it.  Small business owners, members of the entertainment and hospitality industry, artists, actors and musicians, servers, bartenders, taxi drivers, Lyft and Uber drivers – all are suffering.

On an individual level the requirements of social distancing have created huge holes in the normal experiences of family and friends.  Internet virtual get-togethers, carport Happy Hours with neighbors at least 6 feet apart, church and synagogue services played to empty sanctuaries – all underline the radical changes forced on normal social engagement.

People are reacting to all this with a variety of activities and responses.  Some, early on in the shutdown, just seemed to ignore the reality – examples of this were seen on the beaches of Florida as teenagers partied on, ignoring the very real possibilities of infecting others with the virus.  Some became so panicked at the idea of being shut in that they began “panic buying” with the resultant shortage nationwide of toilet paper. Some immediately decided to stay at home before such an order even came down.

Something that I am seeing, and that, as a therapist, I see with a significant amount of concern, is the rush to finding the good in this pandemic.  Please don’t misunderstand – I do think that it is useful to find ways to be grateful even in the midst of turmoil and pain.  Yes, I am grateful that even though I cannot see my family, I can “see” them through technology.  Yes, I am grateful that the stores are still stocked, although not as fully as I am used to.  Yes, I am grateful for the beautiful spring and the lighter footprint on the planet that humans staying indoors has offered.

However, we human beings are often too quick to move to the good – because we are SO UNCOMFORTABLE WITH DEALING WITH LOSS, PAIN AND DEATH.  This epidemic is making us confront the reality of mortality in very direct ways.  People we know and love are at risk.   Every day we hear that more people have died.  By the time this is contained most citizens of the United States will know someone who has died as a result of this pandemic.

We don’t like to think about this.  We don’t like to face it.  We don’t like to recognize that mortality is staring us in the face.  It could be you.  It could be me.  It could be a close loved one.  We just don’t know.

What to do in the face of this?  I would say, face it.  Grieve it, be angry about it, fight with it – but don’t ignore it and move too quickly into the platitudes of gratitude.  This virus is a bear, and unless we face it and its implications head on, we will not heal from the trauma.  It seems easier to turn our heads, to look for the lemonade, to skate lightly over the painful truth.  My fear is that in so doing, we will lose the important and central lesson in this whole experience.

We are mortal.  We will die.  We do not know when or how.  Facing that truth makes living every single moment that we are given in this life a sacred time to be treasured.  May we all face this reality, because in so doing, we can transform our way of living and our relationships with one another.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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Exercising My Superpower

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This past month has been eventful.  My husband and I celebrated a big anniversary with a Hawaiian vacation that included our three adult children.  The vacation was glorious, but traveling as a family of five adults is a challenge (although I’ll take the challenges over not being together any day of the week).  Added in was a recurrence of bursitis in my left arm that was painful and frustrating.  Our two-week sojourn also included a stay in Los Angeles, a drive up the coast to attend my niece’s wedding and a mad dash back to LAX for the return flight home.  And upon our return, our youngest son is now living with us while he attends graduate school.  Oh, and just before our trip, a leak in our upstairs HVAC resulted in drenched duct work and damage to the ceiling drywall.

I’m not complaining!  Well, actually, I’ve done a ton of complaining to my husband.  Thankfully he has very broad shoulders and has kept his cool.  Staying cool in the face of my emotional storms is one of his super powers.  And in the midst of the chaos, well maybe after some of it has passed, I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have a partner with truly superhuman patience.  In fact, sweetie, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), thank you.

And this week is my birthday, so there’s that.  I always feel a little melancholy around this time.  Every birthday since my parents passed is another reminder of what I’ve missed sharing with them.  I was so fortunate to have the kind of parents many kids long for.  They weren’t perfect by any means, but they were perfect for me.  They were my first teachers, my protectors and my biggest cheerleaders.  They loved me unconditionally and completely and they showed me how to do the same with my children.

Is there a lesson in all that has happened this past month?  I’m not sure.  Since last week, there have been three more mass shootings with little outrage coming from our nation’s lawmakers.  The erratic weather patterns around the world further highlight the threat to our planet.  And unstable and dangerous dictators in foreign countries threaten our nation’s democracy and safety.

One of my super powers is my ability to remain positive and optimistic in the face of life’s difficulties.  Right now, my powers aren’t as strong as they usually are.  But I will offer this: all of the current challenges we face are proof of our humanity.  What distinguishes us from other life forms and from machines is our resilience in the face of pain and tragedy and our ability to learn and grow from our mistakes and the misdeeds of others.  I am hopeful that our common humanity will give us the strength we all need to work together to find solutions and to honor our differences.  I believe it is our ability to love that elevates us and allows us to see the humanity in each other.

And when I feel really down, I head out to my summer garden and revel in nature’s creations and take pride in my accomplishments there.  This year, my sunflowers haven’t worked out as I’d like.  But I’ve had a bumper crop of squash, peppers and cucumbers.  Tomatoes are still going strong and I’m anxiously awaiting some eggplants to ripen.  More lessons learned.

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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