There’s a big anniversary coming up in our lives, have you been thinking about it?
This month marks the two years since the pandemic came to visit, bringing shutdowns and zoom meetings and toilet paper shortages along with fear for the well-being of our bodies and our loved ones. Life changed abruptly practically overnight for most of us, and in the years that have followed we’ve all traveled our own pathways toward today’s “normal”.
I have often sensed in myself and in others a preference to just move on already, to contain the pandemic firmly in the past and to view our present as untouched by the deathly grip we once felt so acutely. But my work as a therapist and my lived experience both tell me there is hope and healing in allowing our past to speak to us in the present.
Reflecting on the past can orient us and teach us, it can show us compassion for ourselves and for others, and it can remind us to give ourselves credit for the hills we’ve climbed and the challenges we’ve overcome.
When I listen to myself, my clients, and my friends I hear that many of us are exhausted, numb, or stalled in survival mode. If this is how you feel right now–some days or most days–I want you to know that you are absolutely not alone. We have moved through something profound that has depleted us and disrupted us on many levels…all while the rest of life continued to bring changes and challenges, too.
It takes time to recover from trauma, especially when fresh waves of loss and uncertainty have continued to crest with each pandemic peak. We usually need to feel safety in the present before we can genuinely unpack and sort through the pain of our past.
Depending on where you live, what you do, and other circumstances of your life, you may have only started to feel safe physically, mentally, and emotionally quite recently. For others, maybe you’ve had a sense of safety for quite some time–or maybe safety still feels out of reach for you.
Wherever your pandemic journey has taken you, if you feel safe (enough) now, I hope you’ll take a moment this month to sit down somewhere quiet and take stock of where you’ve been. Look back over the long path you’ve traveled and really ask yourself: what happened?, who are you now?, and how the heck are you really doing?
I’ve created a set of journal prompts to help you do just that, you’ll find them below.
1) What was the most significant change or disruption the pandemic brought into your life? What have been the costs and benefits of this change or disruption?
2) The pandemic brought fear, loneliness, and grief in many ways–which one of these emotions has been most present for you? What has helped you to recognize and respond to this emotion?
3) What is one way you’ve grown as a person during the past two years? How did the pandemic context help or hinder this growth?
4) What lesson from the pandemic do you want to carry forward with you into the future? What makes this important to you?
Hi there, I'm Laurie, a private practice therapist and an avid journaler. I write about the intersection between journaling and therapy, helping you cultivate greater emotional and relational wellness via journaling pathways filled with self-compassion, self-nurture, self-discovery, & self-trust.