Greetings from our self-quarantine, here in our home office in Washington State.
Anne & I want to take a moment to share a few of our thoughts regarding the global crisis that’s affected us over these past 8+ weeks.
We’ve purposefully waited until now to express our thoughts. With all the uncertainty, the ever-changing guidelines, the governmental impositions, and the chaos that we’ve been forced to adjust to, we, Anne & I, felt it better to avoid being just another voice calling for your attention.
With some levels of ‘stability’ or guidelines now in place, and the shock of what we are all facing subsiding ever so little, it seems more appropriate to send out a message of hope and courage.
Life is moving on regardless of what anyone alone can do about it.
The suddenness of this pandemic caught most of us by surprise and had us unprepared for what we are all currently facing; the social-distancing, the community-lockdowns, the restricted gatherings, restricted travel, limited PPE’s, and the like.
This says nothing about the more significant and pressing matters, such as job losses, income stopping, financial peril, confinement/isolation, and/or the harsh fact that you or one of your loved ones may be actually dealing with the hideous virus, or worst of all, having lost a love one to this disease.
And quickly on a lighter note, not discrediting the gravity of our situation, maybe you are one of the millions of people who’ve been denied the access to one of the basic essentials of life – yes, toilet tissue!
But in all seriousness, my heart and Anne’s go out to you and your family, and we understand the magnitude of what many of you are facing. And oh, how we wish we were able to do more!
The suddenness of this new crisis triggers, for many, memories of events that brought you to our website – affair recovery. The suddenness of this crisis has been forced upon you even though you did not ask for it to happen. The suddenness of this crisis has impacted your life even though you did nothing to deserve this nor cause this! It is like a new D-day. Now we are all forced to face this new reality, forced to face a new realization, forced to face a new unwanted truth. Yes COVID-19 really sucks!
Like our own D-day, we’re waking up each morning (for those that can fall asleep) hoping that this terrible reality is only a dream, hoping that it will just go away and that life – as we once knew it – will return – back to normal. Sadly, that day is not likely to appear anytime soon.
We, just as in our own story, can feel very discouraged or sad. We can feel helpless. We can feel so alone and insignificant even when we know that we are not alone. In spite of all the reporting claiming, “We’re in this together,” we definitely can feel trapped.
When it comes to feeling trapped or isolated, you may be confined with the one who had hurt you or with the one you have hurt. Job losses or imposed shutdowns may be responsible for you sharing close quarters with each other, and for many of you, these confined areas might also include children and even teenagers. The terror of this may strike greater fear then that of COVID-19. Yikes, how will a person survive?
The good news – well better news at least
We first want to let you know that these fears and concerns are very legitimate and important, and we are empathetic to your situation. Our hearts are especially concerned for those parents who have suddenly been forced to become home-school-teachers, and even more so for the single parents who are facing some serious and life-altering decisions, choosing between two crucially important and necessary roles, being a parent and also being a provider without outside help.
Anne & I are not spared from this crisis and are facing many of the same concerns and fears that you may face. We’ve been limited to where we go and when we are allowed to go. We’ve been forced to cancel and postpone a number of events that brings financial concerns. We’ve been forced to put family gatherings off until undetermined dates. We can’t see our kids or our grandkids. We’ve been forced to walk single-file into Costco (still no toilet tissue) and we’ve been subjected to multiple reruns on the sports channel.
Our homelife, while void of any personal affair recovery work, is not that different than many of yours. The news channels pipes in hour after hour of scary ‘news.’ The restaurant choices are non-existent save takeout. The weekend cocktails with our senior neighbors have evaporated.
What we’re doing to face this crisis is requiring us to practice patience and cooperation. Waiting in line, six feet (2-meters) apart from the next person is not normal. Wondering ‘who’ might have ‘it’ and if they are too close to me is not normal. Being suspicious of everyone is not normal. Most of what we’re being told to do goes against what I believe or hold fast to.
However, if these things are going to bring about the recovery that we all need, then we are fully onboard with it. Our personal desires and beliefs are put aside for the greater good.
This really is not too much different than what the recovery journey looks like. Putting aside our own belief for the greater good of the whole.
So, Anne & I would like to leave you with a few thoughts.
STOP LISTENING TO THE NEWS ALL DAY LONG
In this work, we often talk about PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Well there is also another PTSD (present traumatic stress disorder). By keeping the crisis in front of you all day long, you keep yourself in a traumatized state and increase your anxiety. Without structure our systems go into adrenal overload; fight, flight or freeze – the lizard brain. The part of thinking that includes rational reasoning, planning, assessment, problem solving and creativity goes down. We need to be intentional about calming our fight or flight mode. So get your news once, twice or three times a day. We do need to know what is going on. But don’t spend the whole day here. Be intentional about putting some good things into your brain that encourage you, and give you peace, hope, and perspective.
WRITE DOWN ALL THE THINGS YOU CAN’T CONTROL
Your brain likes to get it out of your system. Once you’ve identified it, acknowledge that you cannot control it. Put it aside, and stop focusing here.
FOCUS ON THE CHOICES YOU DO GET TO MAKE
First, we know that with so many of the regular choices and liberties being taken away from us, a person can feel like they have lost control over their life. Human beings were designed to be control freaks. It’s in our DNA. When this feeling begins to overwhelm us, the clinical term is called ‘learned-helplessness.’ One helpful way to combat this hopeless feeling is to focus on the choices that you still have, focus on the options you still get to make, focus on what you CAN do, rather than on the limitations. Looking at the choices we do have boosts our sense of importance and identity.
LOOK FOR THE GOOD
What are the good things or what have been the positive things resulting from being locked down and having our travel restricted? Some very significant things can be sharing family dinners once again, spending quality & quantity time together, spending more time sleeping as there is zero commute time, less time stuck in traffic, more home-projects getting accomplished, washing our hands more and becoming more hygienically conscious. Remember, there is always something positive to find, even though it may not offset the negative.
THERE IS A BIGGER STORY HERE
Your life has a bigger narrative. And you can focus on the bigger picture, what is really important versus what we thought was important. Yes, the reason you are reading this newsletter probably has to do with you or your loved one hurting you through a thoughtless and selfish action. However, when we begin to think about what it might feel like or be worth to us if that same loved one suddenly contracted this disease or passed away because of it, then this makes the present circumstances a little more bearable. At the end of the day, most of the couples who come to us seeking our help, deep down really love each other. They just hate what happened. On occasion, we’ve worked with couples where one spouse has died sometime after D-day. They wish they had more time to be with their spouse, and that they hadn’t spent so much of the time they did have being angry, defensive or hurtful.
Please let us know if there is any way for us to assist you during this time. Our office still remains open and we are here to help.
Brian & Anne Bercht
And Remember! Please follow the guidelines laid out by the leaders where you live. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands frequently. Don’t touch your face. Sanitize frequently touched surfaces. Let’s work together to beat this.