As with most people, these past couple of years have been challenging and has affected my outlook on life. This hasn’t been as straightforward as I might have expected. Once I was able to get my head around the seriousness of the worldwide situation, I vowed to use my enforced lockdown wisely. I intended to learn new skills, get fitter, become more in touch with nature and generally work towards becoming a better person. Sounds familiar? Yes, a pledge made by many and like them, I too failed.
Initially, I was relieved and delighted at how communities were rallying round, helping one another, but as time passed, so did the weird euphoria that accompanied my gut wrenching fear.
With the planet seemingly heading for disaster, Brexit making life more challenging and the world in the grip of a Pandemic, It was me I was feeling sorry for. Angels of mercy ( medical & general public) were working every available hour, checking on and helping the sick and lonely, raising funds, supporting food banks and collecting food and clothing for those in need and much, much more. Many gave their time, after a full day’s work. I felt useless. Not only did I need to rely on outsiders for help, my health was steadily worstening, life had lost it’s promise. But far worse was to come, as my mood nose-dived. Negativity began to seep into my life. Without a positive outlook, I knew I was likely to be jeopardising my mental health.
All around, volunteers worked tirelessly, but their great work was spoilt by those who were only concerned whether they could possibly manage without their holidays in the sun. Their call changed from ‘Let me help’ to ‘What about me?’ I was sickened, how could some people lose compassion so quickly? But what did I do to try to improve the situation? How did I react? Rather than try to compensate for the uncharitable comments and selfish people, I wallowed in seas of misery and gladly shut myself away.
The following months were bleak. I attempted to shroud myself in my writing, but like all other attempts at creativity, I failed spectacularly. Regardless of what was happening in the outside world, I felt I had no legitimate reason to be here any longer.
Somehow I dragged myself through the monotony of limited daily life. I returned to my voluntary work, albeit in a restricted way, but once home, the dark clouds would come rolling in. Tears came with ease, but were awash with guilt. What had I got to feel so bad about? I’d caught Covid early on, but had recovered easily. I hadn’t lost any loved ones. I had a roof over my head and money to buy food and pay my bills. For me, nothing monumental had changed. I was fortunate, but couldn’t see it, which worsened my self guilt.
At one point I dug into my limited savings, giving more than I could afford to various charities in the hope of feeling more worthwhile. Although I’d helped a bit, I convinced myself that I was attempting to buy my way out of the situation, so didn’t get any sense of achievement, instead, more guilt. Why was I alive while others died?
Then the lightbulb moment came.
A tearful appointment with a caring GP and a change of medication, to relieve my physical pain, made a lot of difference. Now more able to meditate again, at one session, I got the sense of being given a spiritual ‘kick up the bottom’ and being told to buck up my ideas. I was taken aback at first, a bit insulted really, but the feeling intensified, rather than reduced. I reluctantly forced myself to take a hard look at reality. When my eyes were free from their shields, I realised friends had been facing serious problems, illnesses and personal dilemmas. On Facebook, I’d become dependant on a feed of cute kittens and amusing cats to keep my mind away from the real world. The ‘spiritual voice’ had been right. I needed to DO something positive before I could reap the rewards of feeling it. But how? What major issue could I challenge, or good work could I do? Another meditation, another reality check. I didn’t need to do anything newsworthy. Looking in on elderly neighbours, chatting with them, returning their calls if I’d missed them, remembering to ask how they or their families were, how the operation went, did their partner get the job, was the child happy, back at school. All seemingly small and insignificant things, but the recipients always seemed grateful. I opened my heart and welcomed new friends as I would, lifelong ones. I increased my hours at the charity shop, only staying away when my health was too bad. I stopped looking at myself and began looking at others. Wearing masks had, bizarelly, made many of us feel more invisible,. Unable to see their features, I focussed on their eyes and made sure a smile could be seen through mine. Once the spotlight was taken away from my miseries, I was able to use it to brighten other’s lives. I’m no saint, or miracle worker, but for some reason, these little gestures seemed to help people, including myself.
I’m happy to report that positivity has found it’s way back into my heart and shows no sign of leaving anytime soon. Not every day is good, in fact there are times when life feels very cruel and unfair, but every evening, the sun sets and rises with each and every dawn.
I’m trying to revel in each day as if it could be my last, because one day, it will be. I’ve acknowledged, then packed away hurts from the past, now they can only cause pain if I allow it – and I don’t. My life is simple, nothing exhilarating, but enough for me to find contentment. I’m so grateful to realise how lucky I am.
I’m fortunate that I can still afford to buy lemons – Lemonade anyone?
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
I’d be happy if you’d ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ my posts . It can feel lonely writing with no-one to read my words.
Health, Peace and love to one and all