By Martin J. Pasternak
@OCRLibrarian315 on Facebook and Instagram
Ok, this one is a tough one and I am not going to spend anytime trying to convince you that I am in complete control of my emotions! This would not only be a complete lie, but it would also be laughable. I will say however that on a normal day I am much better than I use to be. As we know, today is not a normal day and it hasn’t been for a while. For this weeks post I want to focus on the things I have noticed about my emotions recently and what I am trying to do to get back into some sort of “control” of them and master them once again to the best of my ability.
I am in my third full week of working from home and the 4th calendar week. This includes my 8 days of complete isolation and then the growing isolation guidelines that have been coming in from the government both local and federal. After my isolation was over while awaiting my test I thought that I had turned a corner. Now that I could see my daughter at least as well as leave my home (even if it was just for a walk) I would be able to feel slightly normal.
The first few days were great. Ok the first two were, and that was because of my daughter! After that I started to feel so distant from so many people. I continued on with my idea of watching minimal news and not much contact with people outside of my immediate realm and tried to keep busy. Next thing I know I am busier than I ever have been! People from school are calling me and sending me zoom meetings all times of the day and night, my gym offered every client the ability to utilize the virtual platform we have set up so they can stay active, and the fellowship I belong to grew increasingly active. These were (and are) great things to help someone during these scary and lonely times.
Not too long after my daughter went back to her mothers per her usual schedule I started having some substantial trouble sleeping. I would go to bed at my normal time (9-10) and wake up an hour and a half later almost like clockwork. As time started going on I would wake up again about 2 hours after I fell back asleep. Within 10 days I was waking up 3 times a night and had trouble falling back asleep. Fortunately I now worked from home. Quick power naps could be a thing that would save me right?
I first noticed myself losing control of my emotions one of the weekdays early last week (they are all blurring together at this point). I was able to find 30 minutes late in the day that I had nothing scheduled and I would be able to shut my eyes just for a few. About 10 minutes into this nap I received rapid text messages from a few people that needed my help. We will call these people co-workers 1 and 2. I explained to both of them I needed about 20 minutes and I would be able to help. Both said no problem and I laid my head down. Within 10 minutes I received a text message from a third person at work saying that co-worker 1 had called him with an issue that he needed my help with. I lost it!
I found out that co-worker 1 was just impatient and when I was not willing to help on their time called this other person who was not ABLE to help so they called me. I was woken from my nap and snapped on the first person I could, the poor third caller that was just trying to get help to help someone else. He did nothing wrong, and really no one did, but I went on a 10 minute tear on him. Then I realized what I was doing and promptly explained myself and apologized… A LOT! I am thankful he is a good friend and knew that it was nothing personal.
I saw this as a red flag, but I did not do much outside of my normal routine. I try to workout daily and meditate, which are 2 things that have helped me to stay even and consistent with my emotions for the most part. I didn’t think to change anything, just needed to get my ass up earlier and get more time working out and mediating!
About a week later a very similar scenario happened. This time my boss woke me up however and another friend who was looking out for me started texting me. The whole scenario was stupid and I could have easily just said “OK” and gotten things done in about 15 minutes, but I instead went on a rampage to my friend. It was so bad that she called me and said “ok… so what did I do to deserve this? Nothing! That’s right, I did nothing but try to help and this is what I get?” I was throughly embarrassed. Again I am thankful for this friend because she talked me through it and reminded me that I have been there for her to lose her mind more than once, but this showed me that there was a problem. I needed something to change!
I have started to spend more time in mediation lately, and talk to a few friends about some of the stuff going on in my head. The fear I have for those I love and that my daughter loves. The fear of what all of this might mean and what might happen. Essentially being afraid of everything and having control over none of it anyway! My lack of sleep was being caused by this fear and my reactions to those that I care for and care for me were all linked to this.
I pushed myself to get running and walking more. I put myself on a bit of a more strict lifting routine. I still was not sleeping well, but I was watching more positive or thought provoking movies and shows and was trying to take my mind off of my fear. I only made it a few days in before I had my first test to see if it was helping, and this would be a test.
First thing this morning, just as I was making coffee and perparing to write this article my daughters mother sent me a text as she usually does. She was sending pictures of my daughter like normal but then added “I’m sure you heard about Mike.” A mutual friend of ours had come down with Coronavirus last week. He is an older guy that moved to Florida a few years ago. I talked to his roommate last week when I found out and he sent me a message that was a voice recording of Mike from the hospital. He was in good spirits and seemed to be optimistic. Last night things took a turn however. Maybe they turned earlier than that, I am really not sure. The one thing I know is that last night Mike decided not to be ventilated and by this morning he had passed.
When I got off the phone with my ex I had a brief outburst. I punched my counter slightly. I got myself together and shortly there after got about my business and continued on with my day. I have allowed myself some time to feel sorry for my friend, but I have to remember that I am still here. I also found out that two more of my friends both have the virus now and my uncles are still struggling with it. It would not be fair to Mike to use him as an excuse to not move forward today. That’s all that would be, an excuse!
Don’t get me wrong, I am sad that we lost Mike. It has been a while since I have spoken to him and that is regrettable more now than ever, but it is a fact! There was no ill will between us, just distance taking its toll. There are some very specific memories I will cherish of Mike and some of the things he did and said to me that had a significant impact on me as well as the impact he had on others in my life that I care for, but those will be all I have. Now I have to stay strong and vigilant for those that are not far away from me and that are close! Those I do love and want to see avoid this horrible disease that is shutting down our world quite literally!
This is the mentality I want to maintain to master my emotions. Not that everything is ok or any sort of positive mindset. I sure as hell don’t want to go back to living in fear of what each and every day might bring. I want to focus on the facts! That is all. If I do that, focus on what I have some sort of control over, and stay vigilant I can maintain my emotions and not allow them to get the best of me. I can move forward with my day and be as successful as possible during these times.
What is holding you back from mastering your emotions? How are you letting this time of isolation effect the way you treat or react to others? I know I am not alone in this and I also know that you can change your mentality regardless of your circumstances. Leave a comment on this post, or on any of my social media channels and tell me (and the world) what you are struggling with emotionally, or better yet what you are doing to make it better!