Finding Simplicity and Space (Jessica Sabo)

Life is a bit much lately. My heart has been simmering with levels of anger, indignation, rage, helplessness, and despair that I don’t know how to process. Four-letter words slip out of my mouth like drips in a leaky faucet, at the most random, unwarranted moments. My blood is boiling while my heart feels frozen. Social media is like a beach filled with red warning flags, and yet every morning I suit up and wade into the riptide. Carried away by one infuriating, unbelievable headline at a time. 

I feel the disassociation in all parts of myself. I avoid eye contact more than usual to disguise the storm behind my pupils. Words that already come haltingly stop cold, drowned out by the screaming dissonance in my mind. My spirit screams NO! watching people use their own version of a faith I fight to keep, to strip legal rights from those I love. 

I feel confused all the time. I compulsively check social media. (Just did it again.) I can’t focus well at work, which makes me feel guilty and unproductive. I ate three donuts before dinner yesterday. Any tiny additional unknown feels overwhelming. My new mental game is “PMS or Pandemic”? The temptation to numb out is strong. The temptation to let outside forces carry me away is strong. 

I want simplicity and space. I just want to get on a plane, fly to Atlanta, and have Thanksgiving with my brother and sister-in-law and their kids like I do every other year. I just want to sit quietly in a church pew for a minute. Be still my soul.

Last week, as I word vomited this desperate monologue in her kitchen, Lois reminded me that a lot of people are feeling the things I am feeling. She asked me, “How do you cope?” 

How do I cope? Even contemplating that question gave me a much needed pause. 

I cope by closing my eyes and ears for a moment, taking a deep breath, and grounding in the good right in front of me. It sounds simple, but it’s powerful.

First, I ground in myself. I find I have peace within me, underneath the chaos. Out of this peace, I remember that I am responsible for the ways I respond to my environment. I can be swept away by the current of social media, spending hours curled up on my couch scrolling (like from 9-11am this morning). I can also take the time to figure out what I need to feel safe, loved, and connected.

Second, I ground in my community of good, loving, growth-oriented people. Since COVID started, I’ve been meeting with a group of single friends over Zoom every Thursday night. We started the group to talk about dating strategies and provide each other with accountability, but really, we are wounded, hopeful people learning how to relate to ourselves and others in healthier ways during a pandemic. We take hard looks in the mirror together.  We affirm and challenge each other with love. We disagree. We share our stories. When I feel like nothing I do will change the world for the better, I remember that this group is changing me for the better. 

Third, I ground in building our business, The Volta Way. In the day to day, this looks like me and Lois on our laptops at her dining room table, emailing clients and editing the website while her kids visit between online classes. It is composed of hope and checklists and brainstorming and getting frustrated with each other and celebrating our victories. I remember that Lois and I have a vision for a movement that is bigger than our small, budding business.  Sometimes it’s hard to see when I’m so close to it, but then someone will reach out to tell me what our work means to them. We are a part of a movement for transformation that is already strong and happening in the midst of the chaos. We are doing our part. 

More than anything, I ground in my belief in the power of focused and intentional love. I believe that investing in each other interpersonally is the greatest act of revolution we can do right now. Feeling seen, supported, and encouraged in my life gives me, my clients, and my loved ones the security we need to not be so shaken when the world quakes. Then, we can branch out confidently with our gifts to do what we can to make things better. 

I trust this. I feel this as much as I can feel the confusion and despair sometimes. My blood still boils, and I still swear a little too much, but when I focus on these things, I don’t get swept away as easily. The simplicity and space I desire are closer at hand.

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