May 5, 2020 | by sheri mitchell
“I feel guilty for feeling this way.”
How many of you have had similar thoughts or uttered these words during this crisis? Why do we struggle with guilt over our response to a crisis or struggle? Why do we have this strange notion that it should be different than it is?
“This is harder than I thought it would be.” “This isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
“I hate this!” “I am kind of enjoying this.”
"COVID-19 is the worst thing that has ever happened to my family and me!" “’Rona 2020 is the best thing that has ever happened to my family and me!"
Different responses, yet equally valid and worthy, neither is greater or worse than the other. They are both merely different realities during a worldwide crisis.
And NEITHER needs to feel guilty for how they feel amid this chaotic, unusual season of time!
One person’s negative experience to this season does not lessen or negate another person’s positive one. One person’s positive experience in this crisis does not diminish or invalidate another person’s negative one. We do NOT all experience the same emotions and reactions, even when walking through the same thing.
I LOVE winter! I love watching snow fall gently to the ground. I love the way it changes the appearance of everything it lands on. I love the cold, having a fire in the fireplace, and wearing fuzzy socks and sweaters. I thoroughly enjoy winter, and I am sad when it leaves!
I HATE summer! I hate the heat, bugs, weeds, long days, and having to shave my legs so much. I endure summer...barely...and I can hardly wait for it to be over!!
My experience in those two seasons is just that ...MINE. It is not wrong or right. It is merely how I happen to feel about the two seasons. My love of winter doesn't mean that I am unsympathetic to those who hate winter or struggle through it. It just doesn’t happen to be a difficult for me. My dislike for summer doesn’t mean summer lovers are wrong. They just feel differently about that season than I do.
In our rush to be enlightened and empathetic, it seems that we have inadvertently given the impression that having our own feelings or experiences is somehow wrong or unworthy of being expressed out loud. And in doing that, we end up increasing our personal struggle in any situation because we neglect to acknowledge that we actually have any sort of reaction or feelings, even amid a significant crisis or struggle.
How are YOU feeling? You feel how you feel, neither right nor wrong. It’s simply how you feel, and it is okay to feel that way. You should not be made to feel bad or guilty for how you are feeling, NOR should you make anyone else feel bad for how they are feeling.
Before this, no one alive knew how they would respond or feel in a global crisis. Now we all know how these situations make us feel and how we respond.
So rather than downplay, ignore, or try to hide how you feel, write it down. Write down all that you have felt, experienced, and overcome. Write down all of the ways you coped (good and bad), and if you were able to find hope or joy in the midst. Write down what made you scared, what made you cry, what caused you to hide. Write down what inspired you, what challenged you to be better, or what lessons you might have learned. Write down what you miss about life pre-COVID-19, what you have realized you appreciate about “normal” life.
Acknowledge and catalog every single thing about this season of time and how it made you feel. Don't try to justify or excuse your feelings. Each one is valid and worthy of expression. You feel how you feel, and it might be EXACTLY what someone needs to hear someday when they face their own struggle of epic proportions.
Everyone on Earth is sharing the experience of dealing with a pandemic, yet everyone's experience of COVID-19 is not the same. In our shared humanity, we can choose to weep with those who weep, grieve with those who grieve, rejoice with those who rejoice, and celebrate with those who celebrate, rather than taking offense or becoming angry by a response that is different than ours.
We have been marked by coronavirus, and we can leave our mark for future generations to better understand the human response to a crisis by being honest about how we are feeling right now. Someday, someone might find hope and healing because you were willing to be honest about your response, so don't hide what you are feeling. When we endure suffering, we can then help those who suffer after us. You feel how you feel, and that might be EXACTLY what someone needs to know to survive their own season of struggle.
Sheri is a wife of 27 years, a mother to 4 terrific adult children, and mother-in-law to one precious daughter-in-law. Using her experience to fuel her passion, she writes, mentors, and speaks to encourage and help other women to succeed, thrive and see the joy in their own journeys of marriage and parenting. She is also an avid sports fan, enjoys a good historical novel and truly loves everything her husband cooks.