City life is picking up. It’s wonderful going outside and meeting people again, but I still feel disconnected. It’s not just that we’re not touching physically, there’s a sensation of unreality about everything. The decor is the same, but the way we inhabit it is very different. Everyone has been through big changes, each in their own way, and even though we’ve been in contact virtually, supporting and updating each other, we’ve all shifted internally and externally, so even in person, we don’t quite fit together the way we did before. In relationships, some grievances have fallen away, but others have come to a head. It’s disorienting.
I think I’m suffering from reset fatigue. Over the past few years Paris has gone through terrorist attacks, a migrant crisis, yellow vest upheavals, Notre Dame burning, transportation paralysis, COVID confinement and deconfinement, and #BLM, an emotional wringer of fear, rage, despair, hope and admiration for heroes…
This spring we’ve had to second guess our every habit and reflex, our social programming and attempts at deprogramming. Many of us are also processing parental burn out. I read recently that after all these months of isolation and homeschooling, it’s most intense for those of us with toddlers and teens. This confirms my own experience. These two categories are the ones with the most striking developmental disruptions. Physical changes, moods, experimentation, unpredictability, constant questioning and testing boundaries demand huge flexibility, attention, and presence from caregivers (as do Alzheimers patients, I’m guessing). A lot of my energy, day after day, week after week, has gone into making it through the school year. Mission accomplished! There’s huge relief, but also exhaustion and emptiness. Now what? What new reality do we have to adjust to or create over the summer and in the fall? How will it play out for our loved ones in the US?
A close friend told me how a war-zone seasoned neuroscientist recently gave a talk at her husband’s company to help staff adjust as they returned to work. He said the pandemic has been violently traumatic for health workers, victims and their families, for others in a more insidious way, and that all of us react to trauma as we react to grief, in five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, along a predictable timeline. Personally I don’t identify with any of these stages just now, it’s more like low energy and numbness.
Counting blessings. In many ways, confinement provided me a necessary retreat. I’m one of the lucky ones. Still here to look at the sky, the water, the beautiful earth, living creatures, hear music and conversation, walk and dance, sing, taste food and wine, and little by little, reconnect.