The Coronavirus is a catalyst for change. That might be an obvious statement to you. I am sure some components of your life have been turned upside down by this virus. But through my recovery, I have learned how emotions and illnesses are deeply tied together. The lungs are known to represent grief and when we allow grief to express, it changes and rearranges us in so many ways. This global pandemic is here to create global change by encouraging us to acknowledge our losses. This illness could become a healer, but we will have to let it. The losses it is causing are certainly about right now, but they are also deeply linked to our past, even generations before us. Here are some examples of what I am taking about.
Loss of our normal. There is no doubt we are all experiencing changes in our normal routines right now. Those comfortable things we had taken for granted might not be available. And we may be experiencing chaos where we once were sure of predictability. But this is also a reminder. It is a reminder of the normal we always wanted in childhood. It is a reminder of the chaos and unpredictability of a traumatic childhood. It brings us back to a childhood without a normal routine which is one of the most critical needs for a developing child. It is a loss and we need to grieve it.
Loss of safety. Things feel less safe these days. We are under attack from an invisible aggressor and this aggressor is relentless. We aren’t as safe as we were. Part of that prior feeling of safety might have been perception. Part of it might have been reality. But we feel less of it. And it is a reminder of how unsafe we felt in childhood. It is a reminder of our need to stay hypervigilant and watch our environment for signs of trouble. It is a reminder of how exhausting that was. It reminds us of an unsafe childhood. Our lack of safety needs to be grieved.
Loss of connection. Depending on your current lockdown level, you might be experiencing far less connection with others. Most of us are feeling more isolated than before. Although to be fair, some of us were already pretty good at isolating. Whether it is chosen or not, isolation is a reminder. It is a reminder of how it felt to live a lonely childhood without anyone to unconditionally love and support us. As children, we didn’t have the help and support we needed. And forced isolation can bring this back to the surface. Loss of connection needs to be grieved.
Loss of your distractions. The options for distracting ourselves from our pain have been dramatically reduced. Many of the ways we ran ourselves into the ground are off the table. This could be a good thing. The distractions don’t help us heal. But our defenders are freaking out. As children, we counted on our distractions to get us through our awful experiences and avoid utter despair. And when we could not use them, it felt like we were being victimized all over again. This can be a reminder of our powerlessness to maintain our distractions. So even our loss of distractions must be grieved.
Loss of freedom. Human beings are born free. We are meant to be free. We are meant to feel how we feel, express our true authentic selves, and chose the life we want. But we have come up against obstacles stopping that freedom. The more trauma we experienced, the more our freedom was taken. A loss of freedom to go where we want can be a reminder of the loss of all our freedoms. As children with complex trauma, those losses can be immense. A lack of freedom might be such an innate part of our lives that we don’t notice how bad it is and how we are still responding to the old programming from childhood. But we need to become aware so we can grieve this loss.
If you find yourself fighting grief through distractions or blocking grief with anger and hopelessness, you may be experiencing the reminders of your losses. If you find that you are bursting into tears a bit (or a lot) more often than normal, you may be reminded of needs which were never met in childhood. If you find yourself exhausted trying to parse out the difference between the past and today, your childhood losses might be triggered. Allow yourself to sit with your grief. The Coronavirus is here to tell us we need to feel what we haven’t allowed. We don’t have to like it. But humanity could learn a thing or two from it.
Come join us in Survivor’s Guide this month as we discuss healing trauma through difficult times.