I used to count my blessings sparingly. When I had a good day, I was grateful. When I had a bad day, I was ungrateful. I couldn’t see any good in a day that felt predominantly bad.
Eight months ago, I flew home to Canada in the midst of the pandemic.
It was brutal. I felt empty and dark. All I did was sleep for the first three months. That’s how emotionally and physically exhausted I was. I turned off my phone, deleted all my social media apps. I needed complete silence and complete isolation. Everything and everyone was triggering to me – especially people that were trying to invade my privacy, deliberately or not.
Almost four years ago now, my life did a 360. And a year and half after that, another big change came into my life in the form of a job lay-off and a move to Greece.
I am not the same person I used to be and there is no returning back. That, all to itself, is a blessing for me. I don’t expect people to understand who I am today and what I’ve gone through. I don’t even wish anyone harm. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I wish people peace. I wish them luck on their own journeys through life.
In June, I taped big pieces of paper to my bedroom walls. On them, I wrote: “June 2020, July 2020, August 2020, ‘What am I grateful for?'”.
The first month was the hardest. I couldn’t find things to be grateful for. So, I went back to the basics:
“I am thankful for my warm bed.”. “I am thankful for the sunshine today.”.
At first, I wrote these down without feeling much of the gratitude I wanted to really feel with my whole heart. I decided to keep going anyway. The days I felt less grateful, I forced myself to write something down.
I was skeptical that writing what I was grateful for everyday would change my mood. But it did.
Over time, the sincerity of my gratitude grew. I started feeling truly grateful for the beauty that is my life and how lucky I am to live it.
Sometimes, it was as simple as “having a good conversation with my parents at dinner time” or “falling asleep to relaxing music”. The simple things truly make the earth go ’round and so it did for my happiness.
Since, we are at the end of 2020, I wanted to really take some time to evaluate the past few months and what these months have given, shown or taught me.
Without the pandemic, I wouldn’t be writing to you, from my couch on which I am comfortably sitting cross legged wrapped under a blanket and eating Hardbite chips – my favourite. I am happy. Happy to feel re-inspired and happy to give back with my words once again. I try to write from my heart and that is why I cannot write authentically when I’m disconnected.
Here are five blessings from the pandemic of all shapes and sizes but of equal importance. I hope for you to find your own blessings too.
- The time and space to heal
The pandemic led me back home. And there, I was (still am) able to heal.
This I credit to my parents, who have welcomed be back home with open arms. They have allowed me to fully rest and have loved me unconditionally through my worst .
They have not pressured me to “get back into the rat race,” make money right away, or figure out my next move. They’ve let me be in my space, they’ve let me scream and shout and throw punches into my pillows, cry every tear in my body.
I did this in the privacy of my own bedroom and not once have they disturbed me in my healing process. They held space for me as graciously as anyone could ask for. They didn’t invade my personal space but were still there if I needed them to be.
I’ve wanted to “make it on my own” from a very young age. So, coming home under the current circumstances was very sobering for me. I am very grateful for my parents and the space they have provided with so that I can heal properly. And to heal properly, you need time.
The impact of the pandemic led me to make the following life altering decision.
In June, I had a couple beers. I thought nothing of it. The next day, I was a total basket case. After that night, I decided I was done with alcohol for good. Booze has probably been at the source of most of my problems in my late teens and twenties. From emotionally-charged fights, to my social anxiety, to feelings of inadequacy, to making terrible terrible decisions.
Booze had become a crutch for everything in my life. It was dumbing me down and numbing me and numbing my surroundings. Alcohol was diminishing my light entirely.
Boozing hard sucks. We forget who we are when we drank. We think it makes us more fun and maybe it does temporarily. But the next day, we feel empty.
You know what I want? I want to feel alive without beer. I want to get up and dance without needing that shot. I want to talk to a stranger without the need for that glass of wine. I want to be free. Free from feeling self-conscious, unseen and unworthy.
And frankly, I am done.
Done feeling anxious. Done feeling disconnected. Done waking up the next day feeling sick to my stomach. Done not remembering what I said or did the previous night. Done fighting over petty shit.
I am now seven months sober. I feel much more connected and confident in life and myself. I don’t miss alcohol at all, not one bit.
3. Connecting online with others locally and all over the world
I’m truly not a fan of the online world. But with the pandemic, most activities were moved online. At first, I was resistant to take up anything online. I’d attend events and have my mic and my camera off – that’s how stand-offish I was to the whole idea.
But, what I found online was an incredible community of all the things I usually like doing non-virtually. This includes doing yoga and other physical activities, viewing films and taking a few photography and self-improvement seminars from the comfort of my own bedroom.
These last three months, I have felt more connected to myself and others thanks to new online platforms that weren’t there pre-pandemic. I was able to watch a bunch of docs at this year’s CUFF Docs. I took some incredible photography seminars from the UK that brought together 100 participants at a time from all over the world. It was truly cool to feel a part of something bigger and know that a participant in Scotland or California was taking the same seminar at the exact same time over a topic we all liked. Pre-pandemic, these seminars were led in-person, in the UK.
How incredible that the online world can increase its audience and profitability too in ways that weren’t developed pre-pandemic? We had the tools for it but not the need.
4. Reconnecting to nature
I love being outside more than I like being inside.
As a highly sensitive person, the fact that there’s less people anywhere I go nowadays due to people staying home, truly relaxes me. I feel less anxious and hurried. Less traffic is a bonus too. I love having all that space and I love having all that space while out in nature. And in Canada, we have that space, that vastness that cannot be found in other parts of the world. I can breathe here.
5. Reconnecting with my parents as an adult
It’s hard to believe I’ve come to a point in which I appreciate the darkness, the shitty days, the days where my worst insecurities come out. But I have. I have close friends who don’t have their parents around anymore, some for quite some time and others who lost a parent very recently. Some people don’t talk to theirs anymore. It’s all quite sad really.
And listen, it’s not always been bright and shiny in our family. We have problems like every other family. And living with my parents as an adult has brought out quite a few inner child wounds to the surface.
And believe me, it’s not pretty. But, what’s beautiful is that living with my parents has actually helped me in my healing, not hindered it. It forces me to face my fears and my deep inner wounds because being in their presence triggers some of these wounds. I know it sounds dark.
But after darkness comes light. Even moments of darkness are blessings. Now, even if the day has some shit in it, I see the millions of blessings it brings me, the lessons it teaches me. Lessons are also blessings and these triggers are teaching me to let go. And while I let go, I am able to reconnect with my parents as an empowered adult, not as a wounded child.
May 2021 bring you peace and many many blessings.