Don’t get me wrong, 2020 has pummeled us.
2020 has held my head under water, yanked it back out by my hair and allowed me just enough air to catch my breath, right before shoving me back under again.
But, I won’t let it take me down. I’m a formidable contender, you know?
Whatever fight I have left in me will body roll 2020 out of it’s death grip, tossing it in the vast ocean of this relentless year. I will walk away from it, soaked, downtrodden but ready to toss my wet hair with the ferocity and precision of a sorority girl shooting another TikTok video.
Nope, 2020 won’t crush me.
It’s in that browbeaten walk back to shore that perhaps I have the epiphany that makes this year not worth it necessarily, but one where we can all beat our chests and shake our fists up at the sky screaming–I made it! Maybe a little worse for the wear. Maybe more heartbroken than last year. Maybe grief stricken. But, we made it.
2020 was perhaps the reminder we needed.
Here’s your reminder: We can do hard things.
I won’t fill you feed with toxic positivity that we all learned something about life when so many of our fellow Americans have lost theirs. I won’t downplay what a terrible year this was either. It was awful.
But I will offer what little I know about the heart of a protector.
You. The protector.
When we were told to stay home, we protected our families.
When we were told school was canceled, we protected our children,
When we were told hundreds of thousands of our citizens were dying, we protected our neighborhoods.
When we were told to wear masks, we protected our communities.
When we were told voters were being suppressed, we protected our democracy.
When we were told we had to stay home more, adjust our schedules more, move more and more further away from when we’d be going back to normal, we protected our sanity with self-care.
When we were told we wouldn’t have presidential results for weeks, maybe months, we protected our wine. Just me? I digress…
We had to slam the brakes of our normal lives and watch 2020 turn into a slow, catastrophic car wreck, while using our powerful “mom arm” technique, protecting our passenger and maybe yelling, “Not today, Satan!”
We’ve protected ourselves from the clutches of a relentless year.
We should be proud.
You should be proud.
I should also mention that this doesn’t mean 2020 has given me gut punches that would lead anybody with the wind knocked out of them, laying in the fetal position, questioning life.
After over a decade of sweat, tears, late nights and therapy sessions, mixed in with saving lives and caffeine IV drips, my husband finished his ER residency amongst the backdrop of a pandemic that took the lives of patients in a way he’d never seen.
Even now, today, nearly 10 months later, in quiet moments, like a soldier reliving his worst days of battle, he mentions just how scary those first months were. When no one had seen the likes of a virus like this. When patients came in struggling to breathe and died hours later in front of a team of brilliant minds. All of that, through all of it, he quietly put his head down and finished up the work and then waved goodbye to 4 years of his EM residency 6 months later.
There was no big family graduation party. No huge blowout for this monumental feat.
Less than a week later, we packed our home and moved over 4,500 miles away during a global pandemic.
There was no huge going away party. No way to say goodbye to everyone in one, tear-filled party. (Although I did get to say goodbye in smaller groups.)
Now we’re in the middle of paradise, the reward for the sacrifices and work from the last decade. And while we do not regret our move, it’s been woefully lonely at times; unable to meet new people, join groups or even be able to connect with the people I love at times because of the time difference.
Not to mention the trips canceled, the birthdays missed, the holidays best-avoided and all the hugs desperately needed.
2020 is like perpetually drinking orange juice just after you’ve brushed your teeth.
I was watching a show last week–okay, it was the Real Housewives–and was reminded just how naive we were in those first few weeks of this pandemic and from that, just how far we’ve come. In a bizarre moment, it was almost endearing to see how people regulated their toilet paper use and thought the kids would only be home from school for a month.
I audibly giggled.
Yes, I know that’s a trauma response.
In a sick way, it has numbed us. We rarely blink at that statistics nowadays.
I encourage you to remember the early days, when we lived in absolute fear. The good fear; the fear that gives you pause not to touch a hot pan. We “only” thought 200,000 people could die and hearing that sent chills down our spines.
Now we’re at over 300,000 lives lost.
I urge you to read that statistic with the heart you started this year with, the one who clamored for normalcy in the first few weeks of our stay-at-home orders.
It’s shocking. It’s unbelievable. It’s gut wrenching.
And we’ve trudged through it. Adjusted our new normal. Braced for what is to come next while simultaneously hoping things just miraculously change.
Now is absolutely not the time to suggest what we can accomplish with the last weeks of this ungodly year.
There are no trophies for who is the most productive right now. Plus, productivity looks different depending on the day.
Sometimes it looks and feels like the rumblings of our past normal day-to-day life, only to be gut punched with the reminder of another patient diagnosed, another life lost or 100,000 new cases in one day while people protest wearing masks and call those of us who believe in science, sheeple.
Sometimes it looks like taking a shower, putting on pants and simply checking off things that need to get done in order to carry you onto the next day. Even if that looks like feeding yourself something nutritious.
It is not the time to assess your motivation for weight loss, your dedication to the gym or the drive to earn more money.
Now is the time to be kind to yourself.
Like many of you, my weight has fluctuated throughout the pandemic. Right now, I’m grateful for still being able to get out and run. My pants may feel a bit snugger, but I’m not binge-eating my feelings (a win in my book). Some days I feel like my routine resembles the pre-pandemic gym days and I feel great. Some weeks, I don’t want to get off my office chair or couch. My business initially took a hit, worried me and now I’m having to schedule work out for weeks because I’m so busy.
The ebbs and flows of 2020 are real.
That sort of fluctuation is exhausting.
But, I want to remind you how remarkable that is. How remarkable you are.
We’ve been handed unprecedented daily tragedies.
Do not dismiss that!
2020 has not crushed me or you.
We’ve done more than survived–we’ve overcome.