It’s no secret to say that the world is in limbo right now at this very moment. As I write this, the new coronavirus, COVID-19, is being diagnosed rapidly. While it is a good thing that we are receiving more concrete numbers to fully devise a plan of action, it leaves many of us feeling afraid of the uncertainty. On top of that, we have all experienced a major disruption in our daily lives by isolating ourselves at home with our family, pets, and roommates. Our only contact with others is through social media, video chat, and messaging apps.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend this disruption isn’t difficult to sit through. I, myself, have managed waves of anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, total and complete fear of the unknown, hypochondria, feeling claustrophobic in my own house, and more. However, in the midst of the emotions, I am grateful. Really deep down in my soul, I am privileged and I know that. The reason I am privileged is because I live with three people and three dogs. Therefore, I am not alone. Not only am I not alone, I am loved. With four of us total, there is typically no time where all of us are feeling overwhelmed by the change all at the same time. That means that 25% of us are affected at any given moment, with 75% of us keeping it positive, reminding each other of facts, and distracting the person who is upset.
There are people that are homeless, people living alone, and people living with others they do not like. There are people with medical issues who are afraid, those of us who are financially suffering, and many who are jobless and afraid of the future. These people need someone to talk to, and that is where we come in.
Right now, it is more important than ever to be kind to yourself and others. Everyone’s burden is unique to them, and sharing that with each other will make coping easier. Now, let’s talk about reality. We are only able to talk virtually with each other. What are you talking about? Who are you talking to? What is the motivation behind your effort? These are things that you can observe to help understand how to be a better listener and friend.
The other day, it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked in with a dear friend of mine. He lives alone in an apartment that is approximately 25 minutes away from me, and we are used to seeing each other biweekly. I called him on Skype to find that he was feeling extremely overwhelmed — which was not his personality at all. I will admit that it was tough to hear him speak negatively as I am working on my own psyche to stay positive, but it felt good to know that my friend wasn’t alone with these thoughts anymore.
After we talked about the elephant in the room (AKA the fact that we are not leaving the house due to COVID-19), we spent the rest of the day working at home, at our separate jobs, on Skype. I heard the clicking of keys more than his voice, but when we talked, we laughed. After this interaction, I began to think about who else I wanted to check on, and why I wanted to check on them.
My intentions were to soothe my anxiety and also soothe theirs. I didn’t necessarily want to talk about the virus, but it felt good to be reminded that my feelings were not only mine. They were the same feelings that my loved ones had. It also gave us the opportunity to really think about the things that we enjoy doing together, and talk about those things. For example– every time my fiance and I discuss food, our first mention is this barbeque place in town. We talk about what we’d order and why, and then move onto how excited we are to eat there again. We talk about who we need to bring there next time, and then we call that person to ask them what they miss.
This blog post may not have scientific reasons to back up the importance of talking and truly listening during this time, but I can tell you what it’s done for me.
I’ve gotten to know things about close friends that we never really discussed. I’ve learned that many of my friends are great cooks and have plenty of recipes to share. I’ve received more book recommendations than I know what to do with. I’ve leveled up friendships, if you will, by talking about our feelings and being vulnerable. More importantly, I’ve listened to what my loved ones are saying. When they say “I miss you” I don’t just reply with “I miss you too.” I feel their love a little stronger in these times and talk about our wonderful memories in the same text thread to keep us hopeful.
I’ve learned to be more vulnerable and learned how to talk to vulnerable people. The truth is — we are all vulnerable right now and there is nothing wrong with that.
If you are alone, Listen.One is here for you. We genuinely want to learn about you and hear about your hobbies. How are you coping with this uncertainty? What are you doing to keep yourself busy? These are some of the questions that our Listeners can ask YOU because we truly care.
Text us at 602-786-8840. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to talk on the phone, we can schedule a call. We can be here for you as your friend, distraction, or person to vent to. We are here to listen.