By Brian Costello LMSW, CASAC II
If you are feeling a little down in the dumps, you may want to sit this one out. My parents visited last night. We held the door open and they stood 6 feet back, as we all do these days. My dad stood back even farther. It was the first time I had seen him wear gloves since this all started. I’ve never heard him say that he is scared, maybe ever in my life, but I saw it right then.
I really noticed how blue both of their eyes looked. They sparkled in the setting sun. I noticed how much I wanted them to stay. I noticed how grateful and loved I felt. I was more open to receiving that love. I noticed how much I don’t notice when things are “normal.” I thought about the time I spend with my family, and how it’s accompanied by a sense of urgency and a lack of presence. It feels like I’m just stopping by on the way to do something else. I feel that restlessness in almost everything I do.
I thought about the way most of us live. I thought about the oceans and the rainforests. I thought about the disconnection from and destruction of our environment. I thought about the fact that I was thinking about this for the first time in a long time. It wasn’t something I could change, so I stopped dwelling. Instead, I went to work, exercised, watched tv, read, and focused on myself.
I thought about how things will go back to “normal” and my heart began to hurt. I felt sad. I didn’t have to run to work, or go shopping, or go anywhere. I just felt it. That sadness turned into anger. That anger turned into rage, and heartbreak, and sorrow, and grief. Because “normal” isn’t normal at all. We’ve normalized all of it. Empty has become normal. Anxious and depressed are normal. Trapped is normal. Destructive, disconnected, and numb are normal. We need a new normal.
I will be honest. I don’t believe it’s coming. It’s a large machine — a system, and systems maintain themselves. I don’t believe there is some evil force orchestrating all of this. It’s all of us and I want to scream. I hate it. I want to stop lying to myself that recycling and growing some veggies in my yard is enough. It’s not. If we don’t stop now, reflect now, unplug now, will we ever? Can we even? Instead of opting in, let’s opt-out.
Brian Costello, LMSW, CASAC II has a background in adult, adolescent, and family counseling, mindfulness, nutrition, mind-body connection work, and holistic health and medicine. He works at Core Mental Health Counseling in Buffalo (www.corementalhealthcounseling.org), where he focuses on attachment, trauma, anxiety disorders, depression, substance use/addiction, and men’s mental health. Call 716-247-6425 for an appointment.