I started 2021 on a high note. Afterall I had imagined or rather hoped myself into the delusion that the pandemic would be over soon enough. I had coped with 2020 simply by eating, drinking and shopping myself out of reality and with the false sense of being a kind soul who was supporting the fledging baristas, world known chefs and local designers with my generous mostly unnecessary purchases.
I even did my first ever online clothes purchase after realizing I better try that in case we could not go shopping physically soon. Personally, I like to feel fabric and try on clothes and shoes for fit and comfort and also go for a walk around the air-conditioned mall under the pretense of exercise. And so I continued for the first half of 2021, initially, ever hopeful of a return to the shops and restaurants and the company of a group of more than 2/5/8 people depending on when the restrictions changed in Singapore. However I slowly found my drinking and shopping brought me less and less pleasure or distraction from the real pain in my heart. Eating only made me grow a bra size bigger which was far from what I wanted (though my breasts may now be the envy of many women.) What I lost was my dress size 4/6. But that was not my first loss. The weight gain was just the unfortunate consequence of the emotional losses that came before which I avoided confronting and processing. Psychological losses many people and I were having but since they seemed intangible compared to physical ones; they remain unsaid and unrecognized.
The first loss was a loss of direction. A loss also of a feeling of locus of control and self-autonomy. Some context here for you dear reader since you may not know me or know me well. I am one of those high performing-get things done- no nonsence — ‘go-getters’ whose work usually fulfills her. I am single not by choice. yet to meet someone who wants to have me forever in his life, or one I wanted to be with 24/7 either. My most challenging responsibility at the moment of Covid crisis is not a personal one. I had been caregiver to my mom till she left us in 2016 and I was also caring for my dad who left much earlier in 1999. No children — while I loved children. No pet not because I do not like pets — I do love dogs. Just because I had a work schedule which used to involve lots of traveling and I didn’t want to have to worry about a dog sitter. Also I had planned yes in 2020 to begin my adoption plans in Singapore…. (yes you can see what I lost there too.)
My loss of direction was not clear to me. I mean most people don’t realise they are not going in the right direction until. ahem. something hits them in the face. I was working very hard and extra hours like many of us in Healthcare. I was part of an amazing team bringing Covid -19 Updates from Singapore to the world as we made sense of the science and public health issues. I was helping grow Healthy Longevity education for the general public. So believing that we all needed to be healthier so we could fight off covid and also just live longer better; thus reducing care-giver burden like what I faced when I saw two parents grow old and dependent on my brother and I.
I was busy. I had a meangingful job. I had colleagues I liked and respected. But I lost what it all meant for me. I also lost my own personal health while pushing the agenda forward. I lost a little of the joy of doing because all I did was “doing doing doing”. Driven by the desire to help more people with my area of work and also largely driven by my fear of seeing the truth. Covid was winning at times, despite all my efforts to keep it at bay. So used was I to being able to control and managed the other crisis in my life and those of my coaching and counseling clients; this time I was no longer in any control. This was what I realised and that really took a toll on my psyche.
I took to ballet as my covid hobby simply becasue I always wanted to learn ballet and loved to attend ballet concerts like the Nutcracker at Christmas. I loved the grace and the form and the lines of the dance. Now those acts of control and mastery and form and grace in little class sized doses saved me. In my class, I could control my muscles and make a beautiful pointe or a gorgeous Rond de Jambe again and again and again and know when I made a good one or a poor one and correct it on the spot and feel a sense of achievement. There was mastery; there was change; there was a completion of a task/act/performance.
In my work I lost that sense of completion. Days and Nights blurred into one. Mastery? All my original work on growing continuing education had to be placed on hold as the world was also on hold — waiting for the pandemic to quieten down to end its rampage — to simply go away. In the evenings when I used to do networking events and attend the multiple conferences that Singapore hosted and bring our work guests to see Singapore — now I sat with millions of others watching Netflix. I watched my first Korean show to the shock of all my friends. I had nothing else to ‘do’. I was biding my time. I lost mastery, I lost time, I lost meaning behind my work and I lost the adventure and novelty that came from seeing a new country through travel or experiencing a new country through an international visitor.