It’s okay that it’s not okay

Shards of glass flew everywhere, surrounding my bare feet and covering the work surface with sparkling motes. The sun through the window lit the tiny fragments with incongruous rainbows. My hand, abused by a heavy day in my son’s garden, had refused to grip the slick surface. It was nothing much, a simple accident that would normally have passed by almost unremarked, save for the odd expletive. Instead, I could feel a knot tighten in my stomach, the pressure of tears demanding release behind my eyes as I ordered the dog to her bed to protect her paws. The mythical ‘stiff upper lip’ began to quiver and I felt about as steady on my feet as a jelly.

Even as the tears came, I could not help laughing at myself. It was ridiculous to get so upset over a broken glass.

As I started to clear up the mess, though, I realised that was not the true cause. Weeks of imposed tension had finally found a safe outlet and the floodgates opened as soon as the chance was offered. You cannot weep, moan and rage against necessity… rather like pulling a bad tooth, you have to get on with it, whether you like it or not, whether you want it or not, no matter how uncomfortable, inconvenient or upsetting it may be. You squash those ‘negative’ feelings and remind yourself how much worse the situation is for so very many others… which adds a measure of guilt to the fermenting brew of emotions you try not to acknowledge.

But beyond the smile you wear, the humour with which you doggedly rise to each new challenge, or the surprising ‘silver linings’ that present themselves… like finding that ‘rush hour’ is just you on the road… life, at the moment, is not okay.

We are locked away from each other, being taught to fear human contact, unable to greet or comfort a friend with a hug, see our families or enjoy the spring weather. Many are fearful for the security of their homes, jobs and incomes, for their health and even their lives. There is a constant barrage of bad news that can be difficult to avoid. We do not know for sure if the ways in which our respective countries are dealing with the current crisis constitute the best way; even the official position is that history alone will tell us that. And what on earth is this ‘new normal’ we are going to have to accept? And when? It is not as if we are actually being told all that much, just in case we get complacent.

It is enough to get to anyone.

And that, I realised, is okay.

There is no reason we should be happy about the current global situation. Whether it is health, lack of human contact, economics or social restrictions that gets to us the most, there is enough in any one of those to leave us feeling worried, anxious or overwhelmed at times. And, let’s be fair, having a good cry over something as daft as a broken glass is a better way of ‘letting off steam’ than kicking the cat and healthier than some of the possible alternatives.

I know the idea of ‘letting off steam’ refers to engines, but on a domestic level, it can equally refer to pressure cookers… and unless the steam valve is vented, the pressure will mount and disasters occur.

Not everyone is able… or allowed… to go out into nature, walk or cycle for exercise. We cannot all ‘take it out’ on redecorating the house, cleaning the cupboards or digging for victory in our gardens. In fact, many of the things that we might embrace under normal circumstances are expressly forbidden. And the more the situation gets to us, the less we feel able to do those things we could be doing to help ease the tension.

It is important to allow ourselves to feel. We don’t have to dwell on it, but we can let feelings arise, acknowledging them for what they are, then move forward, step by step. It helps if you can talk to someone… even if it is only yourself. A journal is a perfect listener… and writing out your feelings can be both comforting and revealing, especially once you learn to trust the page. And whether we indulge in a good, old-fashioned cry, work off the emotions, or find our refuge and release in laughter, we all need a safety valve occasionally.

Mine cost me an empty glass… and ended in laughter. It was well worth the price.

90 thoughts on “It’s okay that it’s not okay

  1. Most people aren’t taking lockdown well. You’re correct, it is normal for most people to be unhappy. You wrote an excellent post describing it.

    I get that way when trying to contact customer service. Now, we have to get past the AI and it’s close to impossible to speak with anyone. To me, that’s the glass that dropped and shattered. That’s when the curse words flow and the blood pressure rises to dangerous levels.

    You and I both remember a time when you called a number and talked to a real person. Something has been lost in our lives when we have to say yes, no, or state certain words to an artificial voice — and then, if we’re lucky, we might speak to a real person in 20 minutes.

    Is it social distancing we’re facing, or is it emotional distancing? Perhaps both.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It would indeed be a poor world if we were happy with this situation…although there are some good things happening across the world that would not have done so without this crisis, including a reduction in noise and pollution.

      The longer this goes on, though, the more I worry about the new habits we are inevitably forming creating an emotionally distanced society. We are being forced into a position where we must behave with a distrust of our own species. And while I hope that some positive changes may eventually emerge…like, perhaps, more people being able to work from home at least part of the time, the consequences that this course of action with engender are going to be felt for a long time to come.

      As to customer services and recorded, automated answering ‘services’…don’t get me started, Joelle… I’m not supposed to use that kind of language on here 😉

      Liked by 5 people

  2. A friend told me, the other day (by phone) that it had been a beautiful day. She had sat in the garden, done some gardening, cooked dinner on the barbecue and had a lovely day with her husband. That evening she burst into tears. When her husband asked what was wrong, she said ‘I really enjoyed today, but I feel guilty for doing so.’

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I think a lot of people will be feeling that way, Viv.But I think we have to accept joy when it is offered…and there is nothing wrong with appreciating such moments as we can share, no matter what else is going on in the world.

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  3. We’ve argued more since all this started than in the 31 years we’ve been together. It’s frustration more than anything else, the fact that we’ve lost the freedom to come and go as we pleased, and having to work around other people should we go anywhere. Our walks are good as everyone is sensible, but we have holidaymakers coming here afterall and they don’t care, barge their way into the supermarket, load their trolleys and don’t give a toss about social distancing.
    Hubby’s working on plans for his shed and listening to music in the lounge. Not my taste so I’m in the bedroom typing..
    Our concerns for the dog don’t help, and this too is wearing us down. I haven’t cried yet, but it’s getting close and I just hope it is something trivial when I’m on my own that sends me over.
    Keep safe and well Sue.

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    1. That loss of freedom is a big thing, for all it can seem a small thing in comparison with the alternatives. And as we are not being given anything concrete to work towards, it feels even harder than it needs to.
      I can’t imagine how you are coping with worrying about Maggie… although I have had dogs live to a ripe old age, it never makes the later years aby less heartbreaking.
      Hugs, Di xx

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      1. We are taking each day as it comes with her. She’s eating and drinking OK, but we are forever watchful. At least we can get out and walk her on the beach or in the park, and of course we can go shopping, so we’re not exactly in quarantine. We find other people more annoying!

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  4. It´s usually the little things that set me off too. I´m surprised at how well I´m taking this as I always thought it would be the end of the world. I keep reminding myself it could be so much worse. And I keep myself busy. I am at quite a distance from my loved ones so some things haven´t changed. Just worrying from a distance and keeping in touch more than usual. Hang in there my friend and watch for broken glass. xo

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    1. I am lucky enough to see one son every day. The other, and my granddaughters, is a couple of minutes walk away through the village. We don’t live in each other’s pockets, as a rule, but it is hard not being able to wander round there once in a while. xx

      Liked by 2 people

  5. You have summed it up perfectly, Sue. I go from raging at the politicians on the news to blubbering over a 17-year-old carer presenting her elderly client with a cushion bearing a photo of his late wife. He cried, I cried.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You put in print beautifully, exactly what many of us are feeling! It IS ok to cry and rant and . . . It is NOT ok to dismiss our feelings. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool. And while I love a good fool most days, today is not one of them. Well said Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In spite of the terms used to describe ‘the populace’ by papers and politicians, we are individuals, people with hearts, fears and feelings… and one thing they cannot do is take away our right, or our need, to feel.

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  7. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    I found myself shouting at the screen rather a lot the other day, my husband will confirm that it is a sport that I rather enjoy, as he does from time to time, but recently I have found some of the downloaded dramas we watch to be unrealistic and sometimes downright irritating… Sue Vincent broke a glass and it resulted in a thought provoking post on the human condition as we stay behind locked doors away from those we love and activities that fill our lives… do head over to read.. I have some screen shouting to get on with….thanks Sally.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. The numbers are horrific, if you only hear about cases and deaths. Looked at globally, though, the recoveries and mild cases do help put that in persepective… though there is nothing that alleviates the fear and grief of those who have lost loved ones.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. A very wise glass to throw itself to smithereens Sue… ‘we need a useful sacrifice, Private Tumbler…’ and a wise woman to understand how a simple smashing of silicone is what we need. Thank you for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. you’ve beautifully captured in words what many of us are thinking and experiencing, but don’t have the skill to express such thoughts as well as you have. I agree that laughter always helps get us through tough situations; this crisis is no different.

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  10. I’m sure so many of us can relate to this Sue, it wasn’t the glass but the last straw that set off the weight on the camel’s back. Been there plenty. We keep a stiff upper lip and try not to focus on the sadness and fears, burying them within until a totally unrelated incident can open the floodgates. ❤

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  11. A beautifully written piece that I’ve found reassuring in these strange times. I have to avoid everyone (apart from my husband!) at the moment because of COPD and asthma. We’re obsessively careful about things but have children and grandchildren nearby who deliver the things we need to the back of our house and who all come together on hilarious Skype sessions. We have a lovely garden and plenty of loo roll (!) – but I still feel unsettled and there’s an uneasiness lurking behind me somewhere that’s prevented me writing for at least six weeks now. There’s a tinge of guilt there that I feel this way when there are others trapped in towerblocks with young families, and your words have put some of that guilt to rest. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you, Trish, I am glad if it helped a little. I don’t think you should feel any guilt about finding joy, even in this awful situation. This is an unnatural situation, cutting so many of us off from the most important things in our lives… the people we love. A virtual conversation is wonderful… but it cannot make up for lack of eye to eye contact or a hug.

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  12. Thank you very much, Sue! This posting is fantastic, even for me as a native born pessimist. This crisis is showing some goods too. As we are loving visiting countries all over the world, using the internet for communication too. We should also see the good things in such a world wide crisis,too. Michael

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  13. A wise and helpful post, Sue. What I’ve noticed is that we are all finding ways to cope that are unique to who we are. And it’s okay as long as we are okay. Thank you for the permission not to be cheerful! ❤ I needed that.

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    1. We need to give ourselves permission simply to feel without guilt… whether it is joy in a beautiful day, or grief at the pain… but we will manifest those feelings in our own way, in silence and solitude, or shared with those around us.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for your honest post, Sue. It is nigh impossible not to be tested by this pandemic. A friend says she is on a continuous emotional loop, one folds into another, over and over. Your last paragraph reminds me of Rumi’s ‘The Guesthouse.’ Let those emotions play and show us what they will. ❤

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  15. Beautifully expressed, Sue. Maybe it is about us learning to allow our feelings to be, just as they are and to not compare these to others as that just adds shame to the mix. A friend called with a kind offer yesterday and I burst into tears. She let me find my calm centre again without rushing to fix or ‘manage’ me and for her loving gift of space that allowed me to be, I am grateful. I pray that we learn real emotional connection, as we battle with social distance. ❤

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    1. Comparisons never work. When you are at the heart of joy or grief, your emotions are too vivid for any other consideration. But that does not mean you devalue or do not recognise the emotions others are dealing with….on the contrary, being able to feel yourself allows you to empathise instead of just sympathising. x

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I am very glad that you have been able to find some release for your anxiety, Sue. I wish I could. Instead, I have a neck that is so tight and painful I am getting tension headaches as I struggle to work and juggle everything.

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  17. You have expressed most peoples feelings very well, Sue…I like many am a screen shouter lately..politicians, movies even comments on social media…the tears have yet to come but I am sure they will at the moment it is hysterical laughter…sigh…The glass I may well throw rather than just let it slip…Be well and stay safe 🙂 xx

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  18. Thank you for your sane advice. This pandemic brings humanity together across national barriers, as we all suffer the privations of social distancing. I hope that when the restrictions are removed we retain some of the good side effects like relaxation, family and no rush hour

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    1. I would be glad to see the back of rush hour, that is certain. I think we also have a chance to begin to understand what life is like for those who, in more normal times, are housebound through age, illness or disability… and perhaps we could do a little more to bring light into their lives too, having had a taste of curtailed freedom ourselves.

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  19. Thank you for the honest and vulnerable reflections on living in our new lockdown world. It seems surreal to me and I too don’t like that it’s teaching us to be wary and distant. Then the skeptic in me wonders if that is the intended consequence. I sure hope I’m wrong.

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  20. Well summed up, Sue. I found your post through Jane’s reblog. My family’s lives and routines haven’t been impacted horribly like others. As you mentioned, the effect is different for everyone. Friday night, my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio. It was the first warm day we’ve had, and we sat thinking, “it just doesn’t feel like we’re in the middle of a Covid crisis.” The evening felt perfect, the temperature, the breeze, the silence, the peace. So, I think we feel guilty sometimes too when the news and newspaper shows grim circumstances all over. But we have helped in some ways that I hope have been beneficial. Stay safe and wonderful post. Lauren 🌷

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    1. Being able to help is a huge thing during this crisis, when so many are feeling helpless. We are allowed to find joy and peace in whatever moments we can… and allowed to grieve when we feel a need too.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Being cooped up for so long, it isn’t surprising that occasionally our emotions get the best of us. You have expressed this sentiment eloquently. Sue. When we’re in the middle of some trials in our own lives, we can see a fixed moment in time when things will be better again. What makes this tough is the mental hurdles it takes to process is all of the uncertainty of how much longer we need to take these necessary steps.

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    1. I agree, Pete. Hope is being witheld… and I know that timing is not easily pinned down, but we do not even have the carrot of knowing the steps that will get us back to being able to see those we love.

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  22. A wonderful piece of writing Sue, Fear is constantly spewed forth every which way we turn. Its ok to Feel and acknowledge those feelings… This virus is not only an assault upon our bodies, but the way it is being handled especially via the media is an assault on our Spirit..
    Its the hidden aspects that will emerge out of this, if ever we are allowed Back to what we term as normal… Its the mental damage, the domestic violence that isn’t being spoken of, its the children who are being subjected to abuse which is intensifying.
    You are also empathic, you Feel Energy and lets face it the energies pouring in from all quarters has and is overwhelming at times.. Which is why I just had to step away from Everything myself for a while..
    There is more than meets the eye going on here, but the media is only sharing the fear amplifying it, and programming us to keep apart… To Divide is to Conquer and the world suddenly has all the money in the world to throw around… Questions, which when you dig and dive deep we would all sooner not know..
    I am only so very grateful I am at the age I am, I am missing our granddaughter greatly and I am so thankful of our garden and allotment plot we use as our daily exercise regime..
    My only hope is that we will emerge out of this more grateful for Nature, more grateful for Hugs and close family, and more caring human beings…
    But we have to let go of being so fearful and take this opportunity to re-connect… rather than as is being orchestrated disconnect.. As we dive deeper into science and misinformation..
    Much love your way Sue, ❤

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  23. A terrific post, Sue. The same is pretty much true here. People react differently to being at home. We miss our family and friends, we want to be able to go shopping or to the park. and we’d love to go out for a bite to eat once in a while instead of cooking every day. But these restrictions on our activities are necessary to get a firm hold on this monster virus. I know the normal we took for granted will be a new normal on the other side of this. In the beginning, it was a novel experience but as the weeks go on I find I’m not sleeping and then during the day, I am dragging around. If crying over a broken glass helps, then bawl your eyes out. Take care and stay safe. Hugs, my friend.

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