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Coping skills or denial

Last fall, pre-apocalypse, I was having a true pile-up of issues. Appliances, plumbing and car all needing repair at the same time. Job changes and sole caretaker responsibilities were evolving into unchartered territory.

It’s something we all go through. In some ways, it may have been my quarantine test-run. It’s that moment in time when the “three strikes” scenario starts multiplying exponentially. I didn’t realize I was in denial until a friend stepped in when she saw me running in circles at my child’s concert. (Actual circles. There was nothing metaphorical about it.) 

Because of her Prosecco intervention, I took a good look at my circumstances. Nothing changed about them. The responsibilities, time constraints and financial obligations were all the same. I realized what I could control. I acted like I wasn’t making my own decisions. I may not have been able to alter the outcome as I wished, but I was able to take smaller bites instead of consuming the whole plate.

Lately, my children have gone through their own monumental changes. It’s difficult to ascertain if my children have incredible coping skills or if they are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’d like to take credit for amazing coping skills, but I’m not sure they would get the skill from me. I want to make sure they aren’t just choking everything down, chewing and swallowing their disappointment with the realization that someone else has it worse.

This year rewrote the “in threes” superstition. We are all experiencing trauma in our own way and waiting for the next catastrophe to hit. You may witness someone else running circles, but now during a virtual concert. Perhaps they are acting uncharacteristically odd in a Google Meet. Those are the times we need to reach out. I am encouraged when I see people raise their hands for help. It shows incredible strength. I worry for the people who are pushing away their stress. 

It’s wonderful for all of us to be able to find the good and be grateful for what we have. I’m with you. This is the season to be grateful. It is also perfectly fine to be upset, angry and ask for help. The biggest issue is to be able to admit we need help. Not all of us have a Prosecco-wielding friend, but we have other strengths. It can be as simple as a check-in with single parents, single friends, business owners, community organizations and elderly neighbors. Please stay safe.

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