Dear friends in Tollesbury, of all faiths and none
This week I wrote to members of our 4 churches to tell them about some Easter resources they might find interesting. But as I typed I found myself wanting to share something of my own experiences during lockdown, in case others found it helpful. And then I thought perhaps this is a message that should be heard more widely.
The reality is that this is a real time of testing for us all. Our usual patterns of living have been suspended, our daily social interactions restructured or stopped in their tracks. If you’re feeling discombobulated, you’re not alone.
I wonder if you’re struggling with focus, as I am? I have many things I could and probably should do. But my ability to concentrate seems to have been impaired. I’m finding it really difficult to set my mind to a task – or even a hobby – and stay with it. Even reading, which I absolutely love.
Why is that? I have the time for once. So why should this be difficult? I’ve been trying to figure it out. I guess it’s because there is this sense of ‘life interrupted’ which leads to a low-level sense of stress. I do know how fortunate I am. I have a lovely home and a garden, food on my table, and a loving husband at home to share it with. I live in a beautiful village with an abundance of good walks, and a caring community around. I’m so very fortunate.
And yet. And yet… I still feel weird, at least some of the time.
The reason I wanted to share this with you is because many of you may be experiencing similar feelings. You might also be feeling anxious. And you might be thinking that you’ve no right to feel like this; that somehow you’re failing, letting yourself down. That you need to pull yourself together, or something like that. That surely you’re the only one; that everyone else is coping brilliantly, learning new recipes, a new language, how to knit, make videos, or something else improving, making good use of their time.
And there may be some who are doing just that – which is great. You might just not be one of them. And that’s ok. It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to feel ‘weird’. Because we’re all different, and we respond to situations differently.
So, for what it’s worth, this is what I’ve been doing. I make a list each day of things I should do (if possible), and things I might do (if it feels right). And my aim isn’t to do everything on the list, but at least to be able to tick off some of the things by the end of the day. And when I’m feeling at my ‘weirdest’ I go for a walk, which definitely seems to help.
Some days are significantly more productive and less weird than others. I don’t know why, they just are. But I’m learning to be kind to myself, to say that it’s ok to binge-watch 3 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, instead of reading that improving book that’s been sitting on my shelf staring at me. That it’s ok to play solitaire on my Ipad over and over, instead of sorting out the laundry (I will eventually sort the laundry). That it’s ok that sometimes I feel sociable, and sometimes I don’t.
I now understand the truth of the meme currently doing the rounds – ‘After years of wanting to thoroughly clean my house but lacking the time, this week I discovered that wasn’t the reason!’
In the end humans are endlessly varied. It’s what makes us humans not robots. And none of us has experienced anything like this before in our lives. So be kind to yourselves.
And if you would like to talk to someone about how you’re feeling about/coping with all this, there are people willing and able to talk to you – our Parish Nurse, Jo Lacey, and other members of the ministry team (Jo’s and my details are in the parish mag or here), and of course Tollesbury Volunteers CHECK-IN team (via a Tollesbury Helpline, of course). As I’ve said before, we won’t just get through this, we’ll get through it together.
Look after yourselves.
Blessings to you all
Reverend Sarah Clare