How We’ve Evolved During the Pandemic

We talk about the ways we have evolved during the past year – not necessarily in ways that we expected or asked for, but have experienced nonetheless.

We reflect on the ways we’ve changed in the last very tumultuous year. We recently marked the anniversary of the coronavirus quarantine. It feels like not much happened – like we’ve been living Groundhog Day for the last year – but at the same time the world has changed forever, and we have, too. The global pandemic, the racial reckoning and worldwide protests, the Presidential election and the storming of the U.S. Capitol. There is no way not to have changed after the intensity of the past year. 

Now that more people are getting vaccinated and we’re starting to move toward a new normal, it feels important to pause and reflect on how we’ve evolved since early March 2020. We want to be clear that this is not about how much we’ve achieved; it’s about reflecting on the fundamental ways we’ve changed during the toughest year of our lives to date, and inviting you to do the same.

Grieving All the Small Losses

A few articles and resources that have been helpful for us as we think about where we are now are:

A Salon article from March called, It’s not just you: Why everyone is super exhausted right now by Nicole Karlis

It says that we’ve been in a state of chronic stress for a year now. And while it may seem strange that we can feel more weary just as we’re nearing the “after this,” it’s when we come out of survival mode that we have the headspace to process all that’s happened.

Nathalie Theodore, a psychotherapist in Chicago, told Salon: “Living with this chronic underlying stress means we have less bandwidth to deal with the ups and downs of daily life, or other emotional triggers. Due to the pandemic, any activity we choose to engage in requires a risk analysis, which is exhausting.”

Fatigue is common in delayed trauma responses. And the American Psychoanalytic Association has coined a new term for the collective psychological impact of the pandemic: Pandemic Trauma and Stress Experience (PTSE). 

Todd Essig, co-chair of the association’s COVID-19 Advisory Task force said in a statement  “All of us are experiencing some level of PTSE. However, our responses can range from subtle to serious and are different for different people.”

Unlocking Us: Brené on Comparative Suffering, the 50/50 Myth, and Settling the Ball

We’ve talked in previous episodes about comparative suffering, the tendency to rank our suffering compared to that of others. Brené Brown has a great episode about this topic on her podcast, Unlocking Us, that she released in late March 2020.

She talks about how comparative suffering (“your loss is worse than mine, so I can’t be sad about it”) is not helpful — and empathy is unlimited and can encompass the biggest and smallest of losses.

A New York Times piece, It’s OK to Grieve for the Small Losses of a Lost Year by Tara Parker-Pope, that introduced us both to a helpful term: “disenfranchised grief” 

Pope writes: 

“Often disenfranchised grief happens around smaller losses that don’t involve loss of human life, like the loss of a job, a missed career opportunity, the death of a pet or lost time with people we love.”

We may feel like we don’t have a “right” to grieve for these losses, but we do. Grief is grief. It’s been a comfort for me to think about these losses in this way – especially as I’ve been mourning lost time with loved ones.

Listener Takeaways

We recommend taking some quiet time – even 5-10 min – to write down ways that you’ve evolved during this intense pandemic year. It’s heartening to chart your progress in a year that’s felt like running in place, and to give yourself credit for that personal development. 

Name and validate your feelings, and practice radical acceptance – focusing on what you can control and what you can’t. Allow yourself to grieve all the small losses you’ve experienced this year, and look for the different ways you’ve prioritized connection and joy during a tough time. 

Get It Together / Got It Together

We each share something that we’d like to work on and something that’s going well for us right now.

Melia’s Get It Together:  Getting a lot a lot done Sunday without building in downtime for myself

Melia’s Got It Together: Engaging in the courses we purchase 

Gill’s Get It Together: Not getting enough sleep

Gill’s Got It Together: Taking a hiking trip over Easter weekend

Get In Touch

How have you evolved this past year? Email us at podcast[at]semitogether.com or send us a voice memo.

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