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Baby steps out of lockdown

Finally, we have something that looks like a road out of hell.

After Boris’ announcement I felt an instant relief, like a tiny weight had been taken off my shoulders. My mind seemed too cautious to accept the hopefulness of a spending the summer restriction-free, because we’ve been there before.

We’ve pinned our hopes on plans with friends and family, on spending time somewhere other than the space within the walls of our home. And of course it didn’t end well, in fact for most of us it ended in tears and sadness, and perhaps even grief.

So I can imagine at the start of the week we felt a little stunned, a little sceptical. We don’t want to be let down again. The disappointment and sadness might be too much for us to handle for the second/third/fourth time around.

After a few days I started to wonder why I hadn’t seen anything on social media about plans being made for the summer. I started to worry why my friends hadn’t started piping up about all the fun things we’d do from June onwards. That awful little anxiety gremlin that lives in my mind started to say “you see, your friends don’t want to spend time with you, just like I’ve been telling you all this time.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who lives with this little gremlin voice. Aside from being sharp and hurtful, it’s also smart. It gets loud when we have little energy to argue, when we’re too sad to leave our beds, or when another human has done something to hurt us. The gremlin knows, and picks these moments to double down on our pain and make us believe we are not worthy of love or success or money or joy - I think it tailors its barbs depending on what we want most.

This week the gremlin that lives in my mind has been trying to tell me that I am not worthy of the brilliant friends I have. And for a moment, I started to believe it. But then I wrote all my garbled thoughts down on paper, including the insecurities and fears. And I thought back to how I’d been feeling at the beginning of the week, sceptical of hope and not ready for more disappointment.

And I realised that, if I had been feeling sceptical and perhaps not ready to think about better times ahead, because a large part of me didn’t really believe it would happen, then of course others would be too. No one wants to make plans, because we’re all still just trying to get through.

We’ve all got our heads down, just going through the motions each day in order to come out the other side, when things are actually better. So we’re not ready to start dreaming yet, and we don’t have the energy to think about all the things we are aching to do. All of our energy is already being used to try and push through these last weeks of lockdown.

We have gotten so good at pressing pause on our plans for dinners, travel, family gatherings, parties, lunch and coffee dates, weekend trips away with loved ones. So much so that now we’re not completely sure how to press play, or where to even start when we do.

If you’ve been feeling the same, I hope you can take some comfort in knowing you’re not the only one. I reckon we’ll all be taking baby steps out of this lockdown.

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