The COVID-19 Diaries: Not My First Rodeo

Let me emphatically state that Covid-19 is not my first Rodeo. My childhood was deeply impacted by my parents alcoholism and subsequent divorce, creating a deep wound of insecurity and fear. I was kicked out of numerous schools and due to all of the transition attended seven jr. high schools in a 2 year span. Yes, seven in two years. To say the least, it was incredibly disruptive. 

In my adult leadership and family life I have now gone through the trauma of Y2K, September 11th, the 2008 financial crisis, Karie’s (my wife) brother’s suicide, a 9 month panic disorder and now this. Not to mention all of the other worldly concerns like epic fires, tidal waves, school shootings and the like.

Looking back, I am now more grateful than ever for these events in my life. Each has led me to a place of deeper faith and trust. Dare I say surrender. In the moment, each of these seasons seemed larger and more foreboding than they actually were in reality. This is the problem with trauma and traumatic events, they blur reality and cause us to depart the moment and descend into a quagmire or future thought, most of which is a conjuring of our deep embedded and rooted core fears.

When this happens, we begin to cement future fears into a false, but very present virtual reality. What might happen in 5 days, one month and one year all seem imminent and in the present. The truth is that they are more than often not.

When working with my counselor Bill Faris during my 9 month reconnoiter into panic disorder,  he suggested that when all of those overwhelming thoughts present themselves that I should pause and take a moment to take stock of true reality. What was really happening to me this second. I even started wearing a rubber band on my wrist to pull and snap myself back into the moment. This is a tool I learned while reading a book on anxiety cures. The snapping signals to the brain to get back to focusing on the moment as fear and panic are usually future laden. Bill suggested that I ask myself the following. Was I under imminent threat? No. Was a bear chasing me? No. Was it my 4th day without water? No. And so on. Actually, every single time I took that survey the results were the same. I was never once in imminent danger. Now only to convince my mind. 

The days directly following the September 11th attack were totally surreal. Planes stopped flying, no one went out to eat and there was this eerie silence happening. I still find it more dystopian than anything I have ever experienced to date. The thing that made it more potent were all of the images that kept being fed to us. We were consuming a steady stream of videos showing towers collapsing, zombie like New Yorkers caked in grey dust and buildings on fire.

Looking back now, it is crystal clear that the fear was based more on unknowns than reality. What is also true is that like every other traumatic event that I have witnessed in my 50 years, never yet has one actually lived up to the perceived fear. Not one. Nada. Zero. 

Had I been more perceptive at the time, I would have sought to live in a place of deeper gratitude during these times. Gratitude and thanksgiving are powerful cures to worry. Both are deep spiritual tools that transcend our emotions and allow us to surrender all of the things that we tend to cling to as support, but often let us down.

The book of Job has a powerful statement uttered by a man who had lost everything but his hope! Job says, “”Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Solid!

Today, I am grateful that during this trying time, it is raining in California after the driest February on record. The snow stores have been replenished and the reservoirs that  will water the Central Valley crops which feed ⅕ of the world’s population are brimming. Food is not a scarcity in America. 

I also have an amazing family and friends, especially at our church who are filled with hope and positivity. The few of us that gathered for prayer yesterday laughed until our sides hurt. It was medicine for the soul.

As previously stated, COVID-19 is not my first rodeo, it’s just another angry bull with a different name. And like those that have come before it, I will ride. The difference is that this time I am equipped with a ten gallon Stetson of faith and spurs sharpened with hope. I plan to gouge the “hell” out of this bull and give it everything I got. Yeah, these next 8 seconds might seem like an eternity, but now is our time and now is our moment. Let’s do this thing!

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