Deployment Lesson for COVID #2: Crashing after the First Emotional Upheaval

March 22, 2020

Oreos are my absolute favorite food. But I don’t eat them much because, you know, sugar and whatnot.  

But I’ll let you in on my personal tradition that I do every time my spouse Jonathan leaves for deployment (or any time I get Seriously Bad News for that matter): I buy a bag of Oreos and after he leaves – after that emotional goodbye and very last physical contact – I go home, sit down with a big glass of milk and eat them until I can’t eat any more. Like, I don’t limit myself to one serving. I don’t limit myself AT ALL. I just GO FOR IT. Does it change anything about my life? Nope. Does it make everything better? Nope. Is it healthy to do this every day? Absolutely not (more on this later). 

But sometimes, when we know that we’re embarking on long-term trauma – especially these particularly uncertain ones – we have to crash. Maybe it doesn’t look like Oreos for you, maybe it’s something else. But for me, in order to gear up for the next round, I have to let down for a little while. 

According to my social media feed, a lot of us have been doing this, whether we meant to or not (looking at you, your-month’s-worth-of-snacks-that-were-gone-in-48-hours). We all know that harder days are ahead, but that doesn’t change the hard day that today is. And that’s okay. 

Right now, we know we’re in this marathon-season, and we’re all at different points in the process. We’ve made it through the first hurdle, and it’s a good time for a pit-stop to crash for a bit. Some of us are scared of a loss of income and housing. Some of us are using every ounce of our energy to keep our kids physically healthy, and we have no idea how to keep them emotionally and socially healthy. Some of us have risk factors that make this personally frightening. Some of us are caring for others’ needs. Some of us cannot work from home because our jobs require us to be physically present. Some of us are living brand new lives, unexpected and scary. And as we all settle in to this “new normal” – whatever that looks like – we also are facing canceled events and trips, canceled graduations and weddings. This is not the Suffering Olympics, and whatever you’re sad about, you get to be sad about. 

When your body needs to crash, and you’re in a place where you can, let it crash. We won’t stay there forever, but you know what? This IS sad. However you lean into that in your life, let yourself, without telling yourself that you need to be doing Something Productive Every Moment. It’s okay to not be productive today, or tomorrow, or whenever that day is for you. 

Consider today a pit-stop in our collective marathon. Rest. Cry. Hydrate. Wash your hands. Eat Oreos.

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