I often tell my husband that I’m not like other people. In many aspects, I wish I was — I think it might make understanding my own self, my needs, my desires and what really makes me happy so much easier. But even for me, I’m a tough shell to crack. I’m a highly sensitive introvert (with definite extrovert tendencies) who thrives most when I’m navigating my rich inner world, pondering totally-out-there, existential notions, and trying to dig down deep to the very core of my (and other people’s) soul. Does that sound like fun to you? I know, I know… probably not. And it’s not like it sounds super FUN to me either… but it does sound fulfilling and invigorating. These are the kinds of “activities” that energize me and make me feel fully alive.
Therefore, in many ways, I actually quite enjoyed life in lock-down. Okay, perhaps that’s taking it a bit too far — I didn’t ENJOY being in lock-down, per se (especially the parenting during a pandemic thing… ) but I did enjoy the slower pace of life; time at home with my family, a day stretched out before us with no “have-to’s”, the lack of travel and not having to race from one activity to the next. Plus, my social cup had runneth over — I learned how much I love sitting around the bonfire sipping cocktails with friends, backyard hangouts and leisurely walks. Minus the horrors of facing an unforgiving and highly contagious global health pandemic, many of the lifestyle changes we were forced to make during that time made me… happier.
My husband, on the other hand, an extroverted extrovert, despised this new life and desperately missed the chaos of our pre-pandemic existence. He deeply craved the endorphin-inducing thrill of rushing from one thing to the next, the travel — both for business and pleasure — and a calendar filled to the brim with social plans (like real ones — out and about, at restaurants and going to exciting events).
See the conundrum here? During the sweet stillness (or at least slowness) that allowed me to go inward, take a deep breath and create space for the life I actually want to be living, a bit of my husband died. And now that we’re back in the rush of things, swooped up in the cyclone of real life once again, he’s thriving and a bit of me is… dying.
I have found this aspect of re-entry into life to be challenging. I’m struggling with how to maintain even a small semblance of the peace I had found. I want so much to live life with intention — to make solid choices about the things we participate in based on if and how it might enrich our lives or deepen our connections (with ourselves and others), but when the calendar starts overflowing with all the things… intention flies out the window. After two years of not being able to do any of the things, my family — rightly so — wants to do all of them.
And so, that’s where we are. Or rather, where I am. Understanding that complete stillness and total chaos are two extreme and opposite ends of one spectrum, neither of which are a good or healthy place to permanently reside, and that it is imperative to find the more manageable and sustainable middle ground.
In the meantime, I am working hard to find small moments of joy for me — the silence of an empty house, my favorite song playing in the car, the feel of my fingertips tapping the computer keys, the smell of Autumn and the sound of crisp leaves crunching under my boots as my girls and I walk to the park. These small moments of peace help much more than I ever could have anticipated.
And I know that when the pendulum swings one way for too long, it tends to swing in the complete opposite direction first — for a while — before finding its way back to the center.
We will find our way back to the center. I will find my way back to the center.