We tend to think of our personalities as fixed and immutable, but, as this New York Times article suggests, we’re more like sand dunes than skyscrapers, and this past year was a mighty wind. What that means is that the “you” who went into quarantine in 2020 is likely to be different than the “you” who emerges when that time comes. While we may have certain susceptibilities based on genetics, most of what we think of as our “personality” is the result of social conditioning, the way we were parented, the impact of developmental and situational traumas, and the culture in which we were raised. Because personality is more sand dune than skyscraper, this also means that any time we heal trauma, any time the culture radically changes, or any time we experience a major life transformation, our personality changes.
The past year was just such a change. You are unlikely to emerge from your corona cocoon the same as you went in. But this is not a passive process and you are not helpless as the cocoon begins to fall away. You do have at least some choice in how you unfold your new wings.
The Last Year Impacted Us All Differently
This past year was different for all of us. Some experienced terrible loss- the deaths of loved ones, loss of health, loss of jobs, loss of financial security, loss of school as we knew it, loss of homes, loss of social contact, loss of friends, loss of dreams, loss of holidays, loss of freedom if you had young kids in school before the pandemic, and if you happen to be a cis, white, heterosexual man who felt entitled to using your power to get what you want, loss of a certain amount of privilege as the culture undergoes a massive shift.
Some were essential workers who did not have the privilege of quarantining. Front line doctors and nurses, grocery store workers, schoolteachers whose schools did not close, and others whose jobs were deemed essential took an especially brutal hit. Without the time and space to process how the world was changing, many essential workers are burned out and traumatized, like shell-shocked soldiers who haven’t gotten to come home from an ongoing war.
Many of us struggled with our mental health issues- or because I use Internal Family Systems to do my own mental health healing- let me reframe that as “Many of us struggled with our parts.” I noticed it most obviously among the people with narcissist parts who were used to being the center of attention before the pandemic hit- the spiritual teachers, New Age gurus, yoga teachers, bestselling authors, and wellness influencers who were ripped out of retreat centers and taken off conference stages, stripping them of their narcissistic supply and leaving them without the mirroring and attention-seeking they crave in order to feel like they exist. Many of those people became conspiracy theorists, tripling the attention they got online by taking on grand delusions and claiming to be “in the know” about the evil cabal of Deep State devils, effectively centering themselves as objects of admiration again, even as they participated in spreading lies, delusions, and misinformation that, at least in part, led to 555,000 US deaths.
But it’s not just those with narcissistic tendencies and other personality disordered parts whose mental health challenges made headlines. Rates of depression, anxiety, psychosis, addiction, dissociation, and suicidal ideation also skyrocketed. You might be one of those people who was coping with life before the pandemic and came to rely on parts that could no longer cope without checking out in some way.
It’s also true that not everyone felt the pain of loss. Some people even admit- at least in secret- to have loved lockdown. Those with more privilege- and especially the introverts- may have absolutely thrived during quarantine- or it may not have changed their lives much. Maybe you’re one of those people too. Maybe you really loved having your kids at home. Maybe you loved not commuting to work. Maybe you loved the slower pace, the time bumping into neighbors also walking outside, the home cooking, the new hobbies, the time for introspection, the civil rights activism, the clarity that came from shifting beliefs around wellness and spirituality, and the impact of less people and fossil fuel usage on the environment.
Right before the pandemic blew up, I went to my last sacred dance class. Because the coronavirus had been detected in China but not yet in the US, our dance teacher instructed us to take extra precaution. Although we usually touched each other when we danced, we were asked to dance six feet away from all other dancers. Afterwards, we sat in a circle- with spaces between us- and processed what that was like. Some people were triggered. They felt entitled to touching other dancers and were angry at the teacher for limiting their freedom. Others said it was the best dance they’d ever had because they didn’t have to fend off unwanted touch for two straight hours.
If nothing else, we all got a crash course in boundaries in the past year. Because I finished writing my book Sacred Medicine during the pandemic, I found it curious that most energy healers suggest that the healthy human biofield radiates about three feet out from the body in all directions- which, if you put two bodies next to each other, would mean we’d need to have six feet between us in order to be fully uninterrupted within our own psychic space without having our biofield interpenetrated with someone else’s. Ponder that- especially in light of those who did not have the luxury of six feet of space this past year because they lack certain privileges, like a large enough living space to accommodate that kind of distance.
If you were boundary wounded in the past, this might have been a hard year for you, given the number of socially enforced boundaries we were asked to comply with. Maybe you learned that you don’t like boundaries and feel entitled to violating the boundaries of other people, the way some of those dancers felt. Maybe you loved having more personal space and less crowding or penetration of your biofield. Maybe you had to learn to take up less space than is comfortable for you. Maybe you discovered you could take up more space than you previously took up.
Regardless of how this past year impacted you, you are not the same “YOU” that you were in March of 2020.
If you, like me, were not an essential worker and took advantage of quarantine to focus on healing personal and collective trauma, doing your anti-racism work, unpacking conspirituality, working on your boundary wounding, and getting clearer on your values and priorities, you may even feel like you’re, in some strange way, better off than before you went into quarantine. You may even feel a sort of survivor’s guilt about admitting this to anyone but it’s okay to be okay. It’s also okay not to be okay. Most of us are a mix of the twosome parts are okay or even better than okay; some parts are not.
Whether we like it or not, our cocoons will come crashing open soon. With a herd immunity hurdling towards us at 3 million vaccinations per day, your cocoon could be slashed open soon, whether you like it or not. Are you ready for this? Do you feel adequately prepared or maybe even excited? Do you feel relief? Do you feel sad, scared, confused, overwhelmed, or still in shock? Maybe you even feel a mix of all of the above.
Regardless of how you’re coping, we have some healing resources we’re honored to be able to share with those of you who resonate with using this time to prepare psychologically and spiritually for the coming uncocooning.
To help people heal, repair, self-inquire, and learn spiritual practices designed to ease the anxiety of coming out of the corona cocoon, Tosha Silver and I are coming together to lead a free two hour mini-workshop Who Is The “You” That Will Come Out Of Quarantine? We stand on the cusp of a massive opportunity. While we still have much to grieve and we are not yet out of harm’s way, it’s not too early to prepare for the personal and cultural rebirth renaissance we have the opportunity to cultivate in this historical moment. To help you prepare to break out of your corona cocoon- or to help you start healing if you’re an essential worker who didn’t have the luxury of cocooning- we invite you to gather in community for a group healing cocoon of love, connection, safety, trauma recovery, self-inquiry, spiritual practice, and preparation for the rebirth opportunity that will soon be upon us.
In This 2 Hour Zoom Healing Session, You Will Be Invited To:
- Reflect on what you’ve lost and grieve what you can’t get back (with no spiritual bypassing)
- Enter into a process of inquiry about what parts of the old “normal” you want back- and which you might prefer to let go of forever
- Digest and process the insights this past year has illuminated in you
- Discover parts of yourself you might not yet know in an Internal Family Systems (IFS) Healing session
- Answer a series of questions intended to guide your self-reflection as preparation for the inevitable opening of the hyper-nesting of the corona cocoon that has become many people’s new “normal”
- Learn tools for dealing with the unavoidable fear and anxiety that is likely to accompany a return to “business as usual”- which we will likely find has been forever changed
- Participate in a ritual designed to ease the anxiety of what comes next
- Receive comfort from other trauma-informed, spiritually-inclined individuals longing to connect with one another
Sign up free to join us live or watch the recording later here. It’s free, so please pass along this link and invite others who you think might be interested in joining us.