Laureen Pittman (Author of The Lies that Bind,) and I are doing an on-line talk tonight called “Social Distancing Together” through Zoom. It will be the first time I have ever done anything like it so it will be kind of experimental – sitting on the couch with a glass of wine while everybody sits at home with their electronic devices. (There is still time to sign up here).
So, what does adoption have to do with Covid-19? Well, on the face of it, nothing. We are dealing with a new virus that our bodies have not yet developed immunity to and our best defense (and the best defense for others) at this time is to wash our hands, stay home and away from others.
But if we dig a little deeper, we can see that adoptees have some significant trigger points. We began our life with much uncertainty, unanswered questions, and severed from our roots (I recall hearing it described, "not having my feet fully planted on earth"). When your beginnings are rooted in so much uncertainty and separation, there are bound to be some issues that surface for any vulnerable population during such a chaotic and scary situation as a pandemic.
So what does a mandated quarantine mean for those who are adopted? Well, it means the same thing it means for everybody else plus some added bonus issues. April Dinwoodie posted an Instagram video and talked about how this pandemic can teach the world many lessons, one of them being about adoption separation. We grew up separated from our birth families and society does not truly understand how isolating that is, how we can be thinking about them, when we either don’t know them or have no contact with them. And now, the whole world is getting a lesson in being isolated from friends and family.
In addition to the separation triggers, we can be thrown back to a time in childhood when we were walking on eggshells. We just don’t know what is happening from day to day. Will someone I love get the virus? When will we be able to go back to work? When will the spread be over? May? June? July? We just don’t know. All of this uncertainty is a major trigger for many people.
I was in Florida when Ohio went crazy and the governor shut down the schools. Florida did not seem concerned at all yet, but people were burning up my phone from Ohio. Personally, I believe that the news, and social media created its own kind of contagion of sorts that spread like wildfire-which compounded the actual physical spread of the virus. I am not saying we should not be concerned. I think we should take this seriously and #stayhome. But I think we do each other a disservice by constantly texting each other updates or posting the latest scare story. That does not help each other’s anxiety. Why not send a funny #socialdistancing meme instead? Here are some great ones.
|You should read this book!! It's amazing!|
Another trigger is our loss of freedom. Our freedoms are being restricted in a way we have never experienced before. This can bring up old stuff from our childhoods wherein we lacked power to control things, wherein we wanted to know and understand things, but were kept in the dark.
If we already struggle with anxiety and depression, this mandated stay-at-home order can put anxiety into over-drive. I have a family member who absolutely cannot stand to be alone. It is making his anxiety so much worse. I know he is not alone. When the world is in crisis, we truly need each other and now we are told to stay six feet apart.
I took a walk yesterday and saw some people playing baseball in the otherwise empty middle school field. They were about 10 ft. apart passing the ball. I thought that was really a great idea. I have seen my neighbors out talking to each other and walking their dogs during the work week! (GASP!). There are ways to still be separate yet together and slow down the spread of this virus, without sacrificing our mental health in the process.
Certainly, if a pandemic had to occur, we are fortunate that we have all this technology at our fingertips. I think Zoom must be the place to meet now. My daughter had a youth cooking get-together on Zoom last night where they baked cookies and cakes together/apart. The schools have been able to continue thanks to on-line technology and all of us who are staying at home are able to remain entertained and connected through our devices. Of course, the down side is the 24/7 news coverage of Covid-19 and to anyone who has anxiety and depression or is sensitive (me), I would say, turn off the news.
And let’s talk about Facebook, which I am lately referring to as Facecrack. Because I am a member of so many private groups, as well as an administrator to pages including the one you are likely reading this blog on, I can’t just delete Facebook. But I can tell you, I have seen some crazy stuff being posted on there. In addition, I have seen an increase in bullying and have been personally shamed by family members and adoption community members. (talk about triggers!). It’s a huge risk to put your adoption story out into the world for others to read and benefit and then when people slam you publicly, it can send you into a dark place.
|One of my favorite Indiana Adoptee Network conference photos|
What is personally triggering me lately on Facebook is all the judgment and scare stories. The constant updates of number of cases, how many deaths, which or course, is concerning to everybody, absolutely, but do we need constant-in-our-face-horror? That is how it feels to many of us sensitive types. I just don’t engage with it at all. I am home doing my part, doing self-care, other-care, and having the news or scrolling through Facebook, steals my peace. And I’ve just decided I’m done engaging with it.
I will post another blog tomorrow (Part II) as a summary of the #Adoptionhappyhour talk and discussion that is occurring via Indiana Adoptee Network this evening with a summary, along with tips and ideas for staying calm and sain during these chaotic times. In the meantime, can I encourage you to reach out to somebody by PHONE CALL? I didn’t say text or direct message . . . HEAR THEIR VOICE or Facetime them. SEE THEIR FACE. I’ve been doing that this week and it’s been just what I needed to feel connected.
Peace and safety to you all . . . . .