I woke up a few days ago next to an empty half of the bed. My husband had already gotten up without me noticing, which means I must have been sleeping harder than usual. I laid in bed half-awake, enjoying the quiet. Tim came out of the shower, got dressed, and kissed me goodbye before he headed out for his day filled with customer service, heavy lifting, and problem-solving. Having a husband seems like a small miracle to me. 3 years ago I had made peace with the fact that I may never get married.
After he left for his long day of deliveries and repairs, I laid in bed, trying with all my might to get up and find some way to be productive with my time that day, willing my muscles to move. I struggled.
I remember my mom telling me stories about her first job working at Dairy Queen in the 70s. They weren’t allowed to lean or sit when it was slow and had to wipe down counters repeatedly even when they were spotlessly clean.
That’s where I find myself during this pandemic. Not able to leave, or do, or work, but nothing seems to be left undone. So, I redo what’s already been done, and that is my day.
Didn’t I just scrub this tub? Didn’t I fold these sheets yesterday? I thought I just brushed the cat. I made this meal yesterday…. or was it 3 weeks ago? Didn’t I already watch this show? The French have a word for this feeling: ennui.
I finally pulled myself out of bed and made it to the couch. Once there, I proceeded to cry while I watched The Masked Singer and ate breakfast.
This is one of many sides of pandemic life for me, and probably a lot of you. It’s a weird in-between state. I’m unexpectedly emotional as I’m facing, without escape or distraction, my own form of working to earn my worthiness. Or as Brene Brown would call it, hustling.
I’ve uttered the words “I feel useless” to my husband more times than I care to admit. Somehow, through all of my emotional, spiritual, mental growth, and learning, I missed this about myself. I wouldn’t have ever said that my perception of my own worth was wrapped up in my doing or in my accomplishments. But here we are.
I feel useless without an occupation that seems to be changing or earning something and I compare myself to Tim, who has gone out through the pandemic to work.
So now, I’m faced with a new reality. I know something new about myself, and I get to chose what to do with that information. I think that my value as a human is somehow wrapped up in my accomplishments, even though that flies in the face of my values and belief system.
I’m choosing to be curious so that I can learn. Or at least I’m going to try. When those feelings of uselessness come up I’m sure I’ll sulk in them for a bit, but then I hope I can ask myself “why do I feel useless?”
This is so much easier said than done. I don’t know what it is about negative emotions, but it’s so much easier to try to distract ourselves from them with ice cream or TV than to actually feel them and wonder why they’re there.
But wondering is the braver choice. I’m going to wonder. And I’m going to remind myself that I’m loved, flaws and all, just as I am.
I’ll let you know if I ever come to the bottom of this newly found part of me.
Until next time.