Back in the first lockdown of 2020 I kept a weekly journal, sharing my thoughts and observations. As we begin 2021 with soaring death and transmission rates, and a new lockdown, I wondered about resurrecting it, however it feels a very different moment. People are exhausted, as I said on social media, we finished one marathon, and have been asked to run another. People are also weathering very different storms. For some 2020 meant financial or personal growth, time to reflect, the pleasures of having time to spend at home, for others it has meant pain, loss, grief, fear, anger and death. It is not even about being in different boats, some people are in a gentle cove, with the occasional wave lapping gently, others mid Atlantic, amid a winter storm which at any moment could drown them.
How do we cope? How do we sustain ourselves and ensure that when the storm passes we can enjoy the sunshine. A friend recently said to me “I want my life back”. The goal now must be to ensure we are able to live our lives once we can return to them.
With our lives being so different right now I am wary of writing a “how to do self care” list. For one thing, self care should really be about checking in with ourselves about what our needs are, and seeing how we can meet them. One person may find batch cooking helps, another bingeing on Netflix, another doing their tax returns. The commodification of self care has had the unfortunate impact of limiting how people view self care, what counts as acceptable. Sometimes the greatest act of self care is to not do, an absence can be as important as a presence, saying no can matter far more than saying yes.
There is also a school of thought which says that distraction is somehow a bad idea. Obviously if our life is designed solely to distract us from our problems, if we fill our days only with distraction then yes, we might need to reflect on what we are distracting from, and why. However right now we know what we are scared of, and distraction is totally valid, indeed, necessary. Or as I said on twitter –
Therapist in 2019 – Shall we look at your maladaptive coping mechanisms?
Therapist in 2020 – Have you considered hiding under the duvet and binging Schitt’s Creek?
Some of you may have already spotted the SC reference in the title of this piece. For those of you unaware (and the two links here do contain spoilers if you have not seen the show) Schitt’s Creek is a CBC comedy, available on Netflix, which, despite running for 6 years, kind of exploded in 2020. I do not think this is a coincidence. It is a fine comedy, the kind which has tears running down your face moments. However I think it has been the distraction needed by so many in the past 12 months because it is the polar opposite of what so many of us are experiencing. It is about love, tolerance, acceptance and above all connection. Without giving away too many spoilers 4 people who barely know each other learn how to be family, how to care and connect, and the fact it never punches down, is beyond LGBTQ inclusive, never mocks, never goes for the easy target just makes it pretty damn near perfect. It is a show about becoming your best self, not because you are perfect, but with all your flaws and imperfections.
This is not a TV review, nor can I tell you what to watch next on Netflix. This is sharing something that has worked for me to try and challenge the idea that in the 2nd year of a pandemic you should be “productive” or some other buzz word. Watch the box set, cook the easy food, have 7 baths a day if it helps. Right now surviving this so we can live our lives is what matters, and if that means checking into the Rosebud Motel for 8 hours, give yourself permission to do so, I will be at the Cafe Tropicana drinking Zampagne with the Jazzagals.