“I embrace the emerging experience, I participate in discovery. I am a butterfly. I am not a butterfly collector. I want the experience of the butterfly.”

William Stafford

Here in England, and indeed in the wider UK, we are at various stages of reaching the end of restrictions related to Covid-19. I say that with some hesitancy, for frankly the virus and political decisions can all go in any direction, if you ask me, but certainly my experience is that life is very much returning to an almost ‘normal’ state. That is, except that it somehow feels different.

Different need not be a negative, of course, but something seems palpably different about the ‘way of things’, still. Many people were filled with an almost desperate need for the end to lockdown and many spoke of almost bursting back into the real world with gusto but I believe there is a somewhat stunned after-effect at play. There is also, perhaps, a caution; a retisence or even an anxiety about the world fully returning to the ‘normal’ we had known pre-pandemic.

Relationships between people are gently recovering from the impact of the lockdown; an experience that rendered people somewhat stifled not only behaviourally but literally stifled of things to share, discuss, explore, comment on, talk about, debate and even argue about. I am hearing from so many people about how a sort of recovery is having to take place, that will eventually restore people to a sense of themselves and each other before ‘ordinary’ relations are restored; whether that be at work, in communities or in families and among friends.

Many people I know have readily stated they have a sense of a loss of conversational and communication skills. I know people who run charities and public services who say that the public are only just cautiously starting to take steps at reconnectiong with each other and with accessing services. Indeed, I myself also have a sense of some rebuilding needed in some relationships; just to rebuild back to what had been before and yet, I wonder how much of all or any of these things will be restored? We are still, of course, all ’emerging from the cave’, so to speak and it may yet be months or even a little longer before everyone truly feels able to walk upright, in the sunlight and reconnect.

What do you think underpins this type of state of being? Do yoiu sense it as well or do you now feel that the pandemic is well and truly behind you? What I have been hearing from people is a wave of anxiety which is, perhaps, underpinned by uncertainty. So much now feels and seems uncertain. So much trust has been eroded in, certainly in the UK, how we view our politicians but even more significantly, I think that social isolation has actually caused a society wide introspection that has left many people questioning who they are, what they and their lives are about and uncertain about what comes next; for them, their loved ones, their communities and for the country.

I understand that feeling; I have been through it a couple of times in my life; coming out as gay, being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and also the death of each of my parents. Landmark events that make us question much about the self. So, I feel luckily somehow outside of this dynamic but my own historic experiences of that feeling are making me acutely aware of it, in others. In my case, I have been shielding and so I found considerable comfort in being reclusive. My personal challenge is to push myself more to connect and to get out and about. I have become a bit too comfortable in my ‘bubble.’ I know many who feel the same way about their situations.

It’s like society is now on the edge and is awaiting for definites. The foundation has been shaken and now something solid is needed; something certain and affirming. This remains elusive, right now, but I would suggest that it will come and that it will come quite soon.

What can we do? I cannot say for sure but I believe that it is simply about taking those brave steps forward. In whatever realm of life; re-engage. Re-connect. Maybe don’t seek to rebuild but simply seek to begin from this point, anew. As a psychotherapist by profession, although retired now due to having Parkinson’s, I learnt that self-awareness is the key to well-being. The conscious mind functioning well to recognise what is happening, to assess that and to identify choices, to then make decisions and to thrive.

My dad passed away back in 2002 and I used to love his wise sayings. He would always say “If things don’t change, they stay the same.” Well, I agree but, especially given my profession, I would add that we must be ‘aware’ that waiting for change, may not deliver change. Change is achieved by either something happening to you, or by you doing something. So, if how things are today is causing you anxiety, distress, uncertainty or discomfort, ask yourself what are the choices available to you and what choice will you decide upon, to make change happen?

This is really about proactivity.

What will you do, today, towards changing the aspects of your life that have been impacted the most by the global pandemic and lockdown? What will be the consequences of waiting for change to simply (or miraculously) happen; if you do nothing?

If you would like to share your story, please feel free to do so in the comments below or you can message me and I would happily post an article, written by you, on this subject of emerging from pandemic. This is not about the politics, so please avoid that; this is about you…how are you recovering from this experience, as we get closer to (hopefully) moving beyond this pandemic and into creating the rest of life.

I do believe things will get better.

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