My spouse and I take daily evening walks. We meet neighbors also out strolling or porch sitting and ask, “How are you doing?” And almost without fail, the answer is “Hanging in there.” We often give the same response when asked.
We are hanging in there: HIT. That’s the truth. (And I don’t mean HIIT: High-intensity Interval Training, although living through this precarious, uncertain, fluid and difficult time is like a workout. )
But I mean HIT. And HIT is enough.
Before COVID19, “hanging in there” seemed an inferior space to be in, an acknowledgment that we were going through something temporarily difficult we didn’t want to talk about.
Now, increasingly, I understand HIT as strength, as a sign that we are distressed and we are getting through one day, sometimes one minute, at a time. And we all know exactly what we mean when we say we are “hanging in there.”
Because we can’t dismiss that we’re in a mess. We’re getting frequently changing and mixed messages from our national leaders about how to conquer, or at least tame this virus. The response to Covid-19 looks like a torn crazy quilt across state and regional lines.
Here in New York, we’ve had firm, clear leadership from our governor. After first being an epicenter, our infection rate is low, but we know our borders are permeable, some citizens continue to buck the mandates, and colleges are soon opening. We wonder about the impact when students, who love to party and congregate en masse in our summer-quiet neighborhoods, return.
Some of us are getting sick. Some of us are bracing and planning for another disrupted school year. Some of us are sending college students off to an uncertain semester. Some of us continue to isolate because we’re older, have risk factors, or want to protect others. Some of us are juggling parenting and working from home. Some of us are afraid of returning to the workplace or have no workplace to return to. Some of us need to re-envision our careers or our daily lives in light of this pandemic. Some of us do not know how we are going to financially survive. Some of us wanted to travel and chose not to, or can’t because so many borders are currently closed to us. Some of us are worried for elderly family members and friends who are isolated. Some of us are very tired, lonely and afraid.
And then there’s the reality that a significant number of Americans find this all a hoax, a “plandemic,” or at the very least, way overblown. Everyone has a right to his or her opinion and yet, this further complicates any chance for a mostly unified response.
Along with all Covid-related uncertainty and pain is the persistent and important anti-racism movement, long overdue and with so many of us having so much to learn.
Oh and did I mention a critical presidential election is scheduled to take place in three months? And who knows what else each of us is dealing with?
So it’s no wonder, that a lot of days, a lot of us are “hanging in there.”
And that’s a good thing; I’m glad we are. Because in the midst of all this uncertainty, staying the course, doing our best, giving ourselves a break, and accepting that this time is hard – well if that’s hanging in there, then more power to us.
Brenda Hartman-Souder, LCSWR July 2020