1st January 2021

Greeting for the New Year, may 2021 be an improvement on 2020. I hope you stay safe and healthy.

Now I will have to get used to writing 2021! It just doesn't feel like a new year has started again but it has and I worry it will fly by just as fast as 2020.

It seemed strange that with 2020 being controlled by Coronavirus the time still raced by at a gallop when it felt like life was standing still. I could hardly believe it when we reached December, I thought we were still in July with very rubbish weather!

I have been reflecting on the year just gone and have come to a strange realisation. I own this as mine so no-one else thinks I am applying it to them as each experience of the time will be different. I have felt, lost, adrift and alone and couldn't identify why it felt more than the events of Covid-19 then I realised that I was comfortable facing up to what might happen to me, to family and friends. That death might come travelling past them or linger too closely. While I could accept that I felt that others, though they spoke about it, experienced it and grieved for the lost, wanted to say 'fine, done that so let me get on and grieve but I don't want to talk about it right now, it's too much and I am not ready.'

The media, both news journalist and social media mentioned it, focussed on it but distanced it with a need to be positive to get through this time. Death became a table of rising statistics! I can understand that and accept that is one way of trying to cope with these strange times but it is not mine. I seemed to surrounded by bubbles, not the support in Covid kind, but shiny bubbles of positivity, struggling to maintain the smile of happiness or at least contentment and acceptance through finding ways to grin or go wild. To live fully in a time when it's impossible.

I have realised that, for me, it feels a false positivity, a sort of turning away from the sadness, the pain, the bleakness, the loneliness, the losses, the deaths and negativity inherent in all these things. That's fine if others want to cope this way for the time being but I feel it has negated my way of being. I feel like I am being 'told off' for focussing on the darker, more frightening things that I am comfortable with. I feel that the message coming from all sides is 'you must be light, happy and positively forward looking to better times'. It reminds me of the saying 'this too shall pass' and others find it hard to stay in the now. Now is pain, loss, loneliness and boredom and it is where I am, we are, for now.

There is a phrase that keeps popping up for me 'toxic positivity' and the smile on the mask that people sometimes feel the need to wear feels decidedly fixed and frightening. If they look too deeply inside then they will fall apart so not now, not at this time when there is little end in sight to this restricted living. They seem to want to save it until another time, when this virus is controlled and fading, then they will feel it distant enough and they can control their own emotional turmoil better than now. This is what they need to do to get through this time and that is fine but it is not my way.

My way is to face the loss in the face of this dystopian event and not be made nothing, negated because I am comfortable with the darkness and loss and all surrounding it. Yet the pressure on me to 'conform' to the current norm of positivity and happiness wipes away me, my self and my being. So for me, my struggle is different to many. I try to remain true to myself, to my being, to my strengths and no hiding behind 'must be positive to get through this'.

That sounds like I am a really dark and miserable person but I am not. I can laugh and enjoy the same things as other people but right now my way of living and being feels unacceptable. Perhaps the reason lies in my past, of being read poetry as a child where poets were not afraid of death and dying and saying farewell, to reading science fiction novels where the world ended in one way or another. Maybe it also links to my nursing career where I felt that the time I spent with the dying helping them live as they wanted to before the end helped me face the fact that death would come to us all. Perhaps I am not living fully during this time, or getting as much as I can out of the life that is possible at the moment but that is how it is right now for me and that is OK.

So in the face of the smile I will maintain my composure and not fall into the yearning for 'better living' as that's not happening right now. I am contented enough with how things are for me and I have my writing to explore what is happening.

When the virus begins to fade and the buried emotions come to the surface when the iron grip on them relaxes I will be here to walk beside those who need a steady companion who is unafraid of whatever may emerge and can hold the boundaries for safety. Remember me in that time of need for I can face the tsunami of feelings you may find and feel afraid of.

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