Navigating the New Normal - Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

June 3, 2020

This is a letter Michael Remole, NL trainer, recently sent to his clients.  We were touched.  We related, and we felt more connected to our community.  We hope you feel the same way.  Thank you Michael for your thoughts, your kindness, and your dedication to genuine connection.

 

As an empath, a business owner, and a mental health professional, there are so many pieces of this COVID-19 plan that are quite difficult to fully address and properly articulate.  In short, my heart is broken.  

 

My heart breaks as I put on my mask and head out to greet your child.  I try hard to smile under this mask and show the excitement with my eyes, yet it is not the same.  I can feel the glances of “are you going to make my child wear a mask?” and “you believe this stuff?” and “it’s about time you meet in person again.”  My heart breaks as our young clients try to make sense of why a “safe place”—a place where we promote authenticity and a metaphorical mask free zone now requires a mask to keep us safe.  I cringe as I watch myself and our client fight our masks as they slide down our face, get into our eyes, and muffle our words.  It’s not the same, and I battle wondering whether telehealth was better than this awkward clumsy in-person session.  But I have to remind myself that connection is on a continuum and this IS connection, even if it feels awkward.  

 

My heart breaks as I watch your child touch doorknobs and grab buckets or latches.  I ask myself a million questions...did we wipe that down properly since the last client touched it?  Did the client touch their face after?  I pray that my clients don’t feel me holding my breath, but I know they do.  My biggest fear is not me catching the virus, but what if a decision I made to open up to in-person sessions causes your family to be directly impacted by this virus.  I ask myself a million times, “did I make the right decision?”  We want to help people and I pray that this is somehow helping.  

 

My heart is also very heavy for everyone given the way this virus is wreaking havoc on all areas of our lives—most importantly our mental health.  I hear the hurt in your voices and I feel the fear about the current state of things, as well as the fear of the future when we talk.  I know how desperately we all want answers and we want to fix this.  As an empath, one of my greatest gifts is to feel what you are feeling.  Right now, it is as if the volume to my empathy is blasting to a deafening volume.  Daily I am faced with the question, do I shut it off, do I figure out some way to turn down the volume, or do I learn to live with the volume blaring?  As I think about that, I know the pros and cons of each decision.  I often find myself paralyzed by all of the various ways for me to move forward.

 

Over the last two months, I have shared with clients about ambiguous loss and how it impacts people.  We’ve talked (I’ve even taught) on the idea that we are all grieving various losses and that each one of us has experienced loss on various levels.  What I did not realize was that coming back to in-person sessions would be what made me see more of the ambiguous losses.  

 

Lately, I’ve been working on the things I can do for myself personally that help me move toward a healthier version of myself.  I returned to running during this time after one of Dr. Perry’s office hours with Dr. Brandt.  She talked about rest, refuel & reflect.  Something struck me that day and I have logged over 100 miles in just a few weeks. I have been running the same road every day, but varying the distances.  This past Monday I decided to do one of my shortest runs and go a different route.   Interestingly, it was insane how difficult it was. It felt as if I were running a marathon.  My body did not have any problem with the mileage.  My brain did because it was new; it wasn’t what I was used to and I did not have those normal benchmarks of how far I had run.  This is similar to what’s been happening with COVID-19 for me.  I’ve been on the same route (telehealth) for a while now. Even though it’s had its own challenges, it’s what I know.  This week, we embarked on a new route by adding some in-person sessions.  Mentally, it has thrown me for a loop.  

 

 During my runs, I’ve been listening to music and an older song from FUN came on my playlist, “put one foot in front of the other.”  That has been on repeat in my head.  So today, I am taking one foot and I am placing it in front of the other.  I do not have the answers and I cannot fix this situation.  As an agency, we will continue to strive to provide exceptional services, despite having to wear masks and concerns over germs.  As an individual, I will work hard to identify those areas that are out of my control and what areas I can control.  And together with my clients, we will navigate this new normal and work hard to ensure that the physical masks do not hinder what we both need—genuine connection.