Life can be so complicated, can’t it?
I try to plan content for the blog around what will be useful for readers. The stuff that I read and find useful is un-salesy, insightful, and leads with kindness and compassion.
Aggressive certainty just isn’t my thing. It bugs me when other people do it. I don't do it myself. But aggressive certainty, and a selling mentality often seems to be the order of the day online.
So when it came to writing in lock-down I felt like I had little to offer. Because far from feeling aggressively certain, I felt aggressively un-certain.
I have my own thoughts and experiences on all sorts of subjects, and ways of doing things that have worked for me.
Sometimes when you are looking for answers, you might find it useful to hear what I did. Sometimes my advice will be welcome and helpful. It can be great to hear how other people overcame the same issues that you are facing. Sometimes, someone else’s knowledge and experience can help light a path to a direction that you want to choose.
But sometimes it will be a hindrance rather than a help. On occasion advice can seem like a special kind of tyranny, because it doesn’t take into account the uniqueness of your life, your values, your motivations and quirks of character. My approach to any given problem might not suit your situation. Which means that it's important to read the room.
As a coach I see my role as one of encouragement, holding space, maximising your skills and who you are. When called for I lead, when appropriate I advise, when necessary I’ll give a firm shove towards productive action. But I will not, in the words and stories I share, or in the coaching I do, impose some self-styled expertise on life, the universe and everything.
And it's this attitude that has informed my recent engagement with Trevnee. Maybe it held me back. But is a part of my character and of how I engage with the world. I'm wary of jumping in before I think I have something useful to say. But more than that, it was a weird and stressful time. Nothing was certain.
And then there were the personal challenges.
Right before the whole thing kicked off I had been talking to my (estranged) husband about the fine grained stuff of divorce. It’s been three years since he left abruptly. The acute feelings of shock and misery have long since left me. But the confusion about what happened, the feelings of guilt, the self-doubt are still an omnipresent reality. Talking about the divorce, splitting assets, avoiding looking back or asking questions about what the hell happened (that I’m sure he could never adequately answer), was the only way to approach it. But the pain of dividing up our stuff, our house, so much of it symbolic of different times in our family and our relationship, was painful.
Shortly after that my father-in-law died. When he was in hospital post-stroke my brother in law compiled family videos to show him because visitors weren’t allowed. I sent mine, saying that I missed him. I hadn’t seen him, or any of my in-laws, for two years since my step-daughter’s funeral. I felt bad about that, but also like there weren’t really other sensible options. I felt sad for my husband who hadn’t been able to see his dad before his death because he’d been in Italy, the epicentre of the virus at the time, just weeks before his dad became ill, and had had flu-like symptoms. But my feelings were complicated, because I wasn’t able to say a final good-bye to a man I had known as a family member for almost a quarter century.
Covid made an already tricky and sad situation all the more complex.
And then there was the moving some of my things out of my house, and leaving the new lodger there, and not knowing when I would be able to go home again. It was a choice, but it felt like a sad ending. And it left me feeling anxious and displaced for weeks.
With all of this came guilt. Guilt that I had any of these feelings. Guilt that I wasn’t healed from the marriage break-up yet. About what that might mean about my feelings toward my current relationship. Guilt about making my father-in-law’s death in any way about my feelings. Guilt for having a tough time about what was going on for me, when my boyfriend was experiencing really difficult stuff with serious family illness and pandemic related delayed treatment.
So, here we are. Feeling less aggressively uncertain. A little.
And trying to be mindful that I’m not a super reactive person. And accepting that that's ok. I listen, I ponder, I analyse, I evaluate. So it was hard to have an opinion on lock-down until time had passed and I’d had some experience of it. And that is ok. I don’t have to have all the answers. None of us do. It would be hubris to think otherwise.
Ostensibly, because of a necessity to practise shielding, we are still in lock-down. The half-in, half-out national scenario we find ourselves in does nothing to ameliorate uncertainty.
I’m also acutely aware that this situation has devastatingly highlighted and exacerbated existing problems like poverty, racial and sexual inequality, the woeful under-resourcing of healthcare, violence against women. None of these are easy or comfortable realities.
So the only certainty and advice I can offer is that where possible we should go easy on ourselves. Where possible we should find ways to nurture and look after ourselves and others. Where possible we should be kind towards and understanding of our own and others’ responses to something that is entirely unprecedented and out-with any of our collective life-experiences to date.