Radical Acceptance…

Anxiety. Panic. Fear. Worry. “What if”.

Anger. Frustration. Irritation. Outrage.

Depression. Sadness. Isolation. Hopelessness.

All of that, and then some, since COVID-19 crashed the party we call life.

I’ve cried every day since the world became a place you needed to hide from. Since the touch of the people you love could land you, or worse someone you love, in the hospital. Since we’ve braced ourselves for the news every day, knowing the snippets of already hard to find good news aren’t getting any easier to find among the number of new cases, mandates and the ugliness of humans. Since the only constants in our lives are a struggle for most people on their best days: change and things not going as planned.

And I’m not alone.

March 1st feels like a hundred years ago. C dealing with something tough was followed by J feeling buried under an avalanche. The talk of COVID-19 skyrocketed, both at school and home. (Awesome being a family of janitors when a health crisis hits.) Our niece was trying to get home from a study abroad in Spain. A teacher who influenced J, was facing the battle against a brain tumor. Then came March 5th. The loss of an incredible coach, father, husband and human slammed us into a wall. Within a few hours of the news of his loss came news that the Mama of one of J’s good friends had suffered a brain bleed and was in surgery. She’s lived with the effects of a brain aneurysm 20 years ago and her bleed happened as she and her husband, a paramedic and firefighter, were getting ready for his retirement celebration. While our community rallied around these families, we’d learn that a 25 year old AHS alum had lost his battle against mental illness two days earlier. The sunrises behind Anderson High School are breathtaking; during that week it began to feel like the clouds might block them for a really, really long time.

Regardless of your stance on public education, it’s hard to argue that schools set the tone in a community. So when the Governor, with no notice, mandates all schools be closed to combat the spread of a virus, the clouds hiding the sunrises you can’t help but admire or wait to see again become the sign of what you hope is just a really torrential and horrendous thunderstorm but quite likely are warning us to prep for a hurricane. Yesterday afternoon, our Governor issued a Stay at Home order; the near equivalent of “Shelter in Place – a natural disaster is at hand.” At least the hope for a torrential, but passing, thunderstorm was short-lived.

The boys started online school today. My Fave, along with all people who can work from home, have been ordered to do so. We still have many people cleaning medical facilities who continue to work but have a growing number who there’s a scramble to make certain they are taken care of. Getting my mother-in-law her medication daily, visiting for a bit and making sure she eats three times a day is now a part of our daily routine. Her worry in all of this has already been high; this will lift it to new levels. The boys’ ability to escape to a golf course and spend hours forgetting that life on the 19th hole isn’t quite as awesome as usual has come to an end (although there is serious work being done to get golf courses reopened as I write this). The family and friends whose livelihoods and health have been, are and will be affected is staggering. The effect on our local businesses owners is unprecedented and so hard to see. There’s growing expectation that school won’t resume this year and with it goes all the rewards and celebrations of Senior year. Also gone is a space for kiddos whose home lives aren’t a place filled with love, food, peace and the assurance things will be okay. There’s nothing about this that isn’t overwhelming and hard.

Cue a therapy appointment and a lesson on Radical Acceptance.

It’s basically “Expect the unexpected.” on steroids. Life will happen and it will happen in ways that will kick our a$$es and while we are down, might just kick us again for good measure; maybe even a third time just so we know what might be waiting when we eventually get up. Not just had a bad day, got a flat tire, spilled coffee on my favorite shirt, cracked my phone screen sort of stuff. More, throw you into an inferno sort of stuff. And you’re left with two options.

Option 1
Complain, throw a fit, throw things, throw up our hands and quit; hurt people we love, hurt ourselves, hurt strangers; excessively worry, try to control it all. We all know none of that is going to improve the intensity of the inferno, even though the epic awfulness of the circumstances totally warrants such a reaction.

Option 2
Accept it as totally sucking, don’t pretend it’s not awful; control what you can; look for the good, take care of you; be good to the people around you. Your energy might be zapped from continuing to put one foot in front of the other so there’s no expectation of you carrying a fire extinguisher but don’t you dare come armed with a can of gasoline.

Yes, easier said than done. I’ve gotten it wrong far more often than right but on those rare successful occasions, the semblance of calm was enough to make me keep trying . “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.” is in front of us, just begging to be tested. We prove it right by doing the best we can in the current chaos and the one that’s inevitably waiting in the wings. My best will be something someone else needs; that need might be knowing I cried ugly but didn’t quit. (If that’s your need, I’m your girl.) Your best will fill another someone’s need. Emotional. Physical. Financial. Doesn’t matter. We all make a serious effort to accept what is and react in a way that doesn’t make it worse. Period. The dark clouds we aren’t sure are the result of an inferno or coming hurricane will clear. When exactly is anyone’s guess but they will. When they do, you’ll find me in the parking lot of Anderson High School watching an epic sunrise.

And without a doubt, I will be crying.

“…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5: 3-4

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