I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurial and non-for-profit initiatives happening ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, and the lockdown. People are helping each other with groceries, people are baking, cooking, sewing medical masks… Many people are adapting their services to work online and manage to keep their businesses going. Artists are offering their art to fundraise money for the crisis, and they are creating new art to mark this strange period in history. Sometimes it seems that coronavirus pushed us to entirely new avenues when it comes to our work, and many people seem to thrive despite the circumstance. I’m impressed and touched by seeing all of that work that goes on as most of us are staying inside.
But this is not the whole picture, because there are many of us out here who are struggling with all this extra time and with all those new limitations. I know this can be particularly hard for people in recovery who are used to fighting for their lives and for whom being alive means that they must take advantage of all that sober life has to offer. Suddenly, without their meetings, their commitments (and people in recovery are big on fulfilling their commitments), their work, their service in the community, and just generally being busy, people in recovery can find themselves stumped. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, staying at home feels like some cruel joke for those of us who have wasted so much of our time not participating. And then it happens—suddenly we lose all of our motivation and find ourselves spending hours and hours watching Netflix or mindlessly scrolling through our phones. Then guilt seeps in. We’re being lazy! Unproductive! All those people around us are baking bread, crocheting, and taking up sculpture, and here we are doing absolutely nothing? And then, on top of it, doing nothing turns out to be exhausting. Where life used to be go-go-go, and we still got so much done, now that it’s standing still, it seems nothing can motivate us. Panic!
Relax. Breathe. If this is you, please know that you’re doing fine. You’re surviving the best you can. It’s okay not to do anything right now. You’re still very much alive, and things will change for the better. You must believe that. Don’t waste your time feeling guilty about your response to what is happening. We are in collective trauma. Some of us respond to it better, some of us fall apart. It takes a lot of energy to deal with a traumatic situation, so even if you’re spending your days practically surgically attached to your couch, you will still feel exhausted. Your body is fighting anxiety and stress, even if you don’t feel either of those or feel them only mildly. And just as it is with people in recovery, we react differently to different situations based on a whole set of factors. Some of us got recovery right away, and others needed two dozen chances. Some thrived after becoming sober, and others fell into depression.
So if you are on the less-active end of things, please know that there’s nothing wrong with how you’re reacting. You’re not less of a person because you are not taking advantage of suddenly free time. Have three naps, watch that show. Whatever will get you through this sober and relatively sane—do it. And throw the guilt away. Like the virus, it can only affect you negatively, and it does nothing to contribute to a healthy change.
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