A lot has happened in the world since I announced my need to cloister, most especially the worldwide pandemic known as Covid-19.
I know people are fearful of a great many things with this whole plague of the modern age, with worries ranging from the actual source of the disease to the economy and everything in between, and with no clear indication of when life will return to something closely resembling the kind of normal we were accustomed to in the past, especially with the clear understanding of the disease, it’s ability to mutate, and a clear and definite treatment protocol still in question, I know it is easy to feel hopeless. Nevertheless, I would argue that this can actually be a blessing for us all if we choose to let it be.
Humankind has never been a stranger to hard work and toil but one would think that with the exponential technological advancements of the previous century and a half that the quality of life for the human being within him or herself would have improved as greatly as the quality of life for those external facets of life. Rather than having and taking more time for internal health, people in western civilization have had an alarming push to having, being, and doing more outside themselves to the degree that I seriously wonder at whether people know themselves at all.
After all, what could be more frightening to a person who never spends time with themselves or their family at home than to spend days turned to weeks, weeks turning to months, cloistered at home alone with themselves or at home with those individuals who may have once been quite loved but who are now unbearable to be around?
Let me be clear: I am not talking about someone’s loud chewing or quarantine-short-temper making life uncomfortable or annoying at times, I’m talking about the unbearable that you have thus far chosen to live in but that you have used work, hobbies, social media, and school to keep yourself from having to actually address. It can be an abusive relationship or one where love is simply no longer present, but it was already unbearable and you are now stuck in the Covid Groundhog Day of unbearable relationship hell with them.
Someone is shaking their head in cyberspace asking how this is a good thing, and I totally get it. As soon as the shelter in place social distancing business was announced, my stomach turned for all the people who would be sheltering in place with their abusers because the more one is around an abuser, the more one is going to experience direct abuse. It might be physical or emotional but it will be abuse. But I also recognized something else…
When one is forced into a situation where they have no other choice but to face the toxic or unhealthy state of affairs that is their life and relationships, it can bring one to a great awakening of the truth of matters and to a crossroads where one is forced to make the conscientious choice to act.
That action may be solid self reflection into one’s priorities and needs that brings personal growth and intentional change. Figure out who you really are and what has motivated the decision making paradigm that has put you in a place where you despise your own company.
That action may be the kind of acceptance or realization of the terrible state of affairs and, I hope, the decision to do something about it. You control your actions, not the actions of anyone else. God is all about unconditional love, not unconditional relationship or He would not have let us know that even He will say, “depart from me, I never knew you.” Whether or not you believe in God, you have to admit that is some solid healthy boundary setting.
There is nothing healthy about remaining in a situation with yourself or with others where it is unbearable to be in closed up in the same space alone or together. Nothing.
You are not noble or honorable or wise or kind for continuing to remain in an unhealthy situation with yourself or with someone else.
You are not strong or resilient or faithful or powerful or amazing for continuing to remain in an unhealthy situation with yourself or with someone else.
You are simply unhealthy and whether you realize it today or you realize it 10 years from now, what is healthy is what is right.
Make a change now. Use this time to reflect upon yourself and your situation now and let that motivate a positive change that lasts after the quarantine in both your relationship with yourself and your relationships with others.
If that means you dig deep and finally deal with your childhood trauma, do it.
If that means you dig deep and finally end a broken relationship, do it.
If you’re questioning how I could possible advocate ending a broken relationship when there are children involved, I would question you if you really love your children why you would continue to subject them to the example in their formative years of you choosing to remain in an unbearable situation so that they learn to do the exact same thing.
But whatever you do, don’t let yourself leave this Groundhog Day unchanged because even though you may walk away from the quarantine and find peace in your avoidance once more, you still won’t be happy. Not really. And you certainly won’t be healthier.