At the beginning of 2020, I received a greeting card which coined a phrase about 2020: “Maybe we’ll have better vision in this year.” I had no idea what that would mean.
The missing piece in my world view has always been a reliable vision of my own value. I had been counting on my friend Eva to prop up my self-esteem. She consistently told me of my value to her and to my world. Every time I fell into the dark hole of depression, she would reach in, grab me by the scruff of the neck and prop me back up among the living. My daily interactions with her were like life blood to me.
On Saturdays, Eva and I always “went out to play.” On Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, she didn’t answer her door. I knocked on her doors and banged on her windows with creeping dread. I finally called the Sheriff’s Office, which called the fire department. They broke into her apartment and found her unresponsive. My Eva was gone! Neighbors held me as I screamed, “No! No!” A terrible beginning to a terrible year.
The next disappointment was an out-of-state trip that was canceled due to COVID-19.
Then came the awful isolation. Living in senior housing, I was asked to stay at home. The apartment administration wanted me to stay at home and not go out or socialize with anyone. Even the thought of this terrified me.
In addition to Eva, I had been counting on groups and classes at Senior Coastsiders to keep the darkness and loneliness of my mind at bay. So, I looked for help. I contacted various organizations for a grief group, a peer counselor and stayed in contact with my craft club and with my learners from the library’s Adult Literacy program. This helped some; but Zoom groups were just not the same. I located a therapist, a psychiatrist and started new medications. My fear of the virus was nothing compared with what would happen if I stayed in isolation.
All of these things helped, but what I learned is that it is “an inside job,” meaning I had to do the internal work necessary to become a friend to myself. I read books.
Here is my self-help bibliography: “Warrior Goddess Training” by Heatherash Amara; “Warrior Goddess Way” by Heatherash Amara; “Comfortable with Uncertainty” by Pema Chodren; “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodren; “You Are Enough” by Panache
Desai; “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay; “The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook” by Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer; “Good Morning, I Love You” by Shauna Shapiro; “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
I might not have been able to read books like these at any other time in my life, but this year I really needed some help. I continue to read these books every morning along with a meditation practice. And it turns out I am grateful to COVID-19 for inspiring the internal growth and peace that I have found.
Meg Reddon is a writer and occasional contributor to the Review.