Riding the Rollercoaster; Feeling my Feelings

Did we make it through? I’m not sure.

With the recent announcement that Louisiana will enter Phase I, we seem to be moving forward. Well, we’re moving, I think. In some direction. Possibly forward. Upon hearing the announcement, I felt a combination of relief and trepidation.

Then I felt guilty for feeling relieved and anxious, but maybe a little silly, for being nervous. That, in turn, made me feel conflicted. And I’m tired of feeling conflicted and overwhelmed and like I somehow HAVE to feel the “right” thing. It’s exhausting trying to constantly patrol my own emotions.

Sitting Instead of Wrestling

It seems we forget that we have the option of just sitting with our feelings instead of wrestling with them. So many times we get in our own heads, so to speak, and feel guilt or shame over the other, valid emotions we’re experiencing, and we try to talk ourselves out of feeling that way or try to convince ourselves otherwise. We fight with our emotions instead of just being with them, acknowledging them and letting ourselves feel our feelings.

Throughout the past months of quarantine — over sixty days — I’ve tried to convince myself to just take my feelings as they come and not question them, but it’s tough in a world where we try to acknowledge our own privilege and work harder to see others. It takes practice; it takes mindfulness to balance feeling our feelings and practicing gratitude at the same time.

It’s been a rollercoaster, to say the least, and instead of fighting the fact that I’m on it or trying to convince myself that I love these death-defying drops and should be grateful that at least my own rollercoaster doesn’t have loop-de-loops like others’ might, I’m just trying to ride it. I’m just surviving the ride — throwing my hands up when I can and holding on for dear life when I need to.

Amazing Days, Terrible Days

In truth, there have been amazing days, perfect moments sprinkled throughout this frozen slice of life. Afternoons and early evenings spent on blankets in our backyard under the setting sun, gentle breezes playing in the leaves of our big, shady tree, my toddler dancing with bubbles and my baby watching the magic. A morning at a completely empty park, watching a heron snatch dragonflies from the air and pluck minnows from the pond. Stroll after lazy stroll through our neighborhood in the unseasonably cool mornings, again in the evenings, counting trucks and not having to rush back to be on any sort of schedule.

And there have been terrible days, full of tantrums and meltdown and time outs and the desperate desire to just give up. Evenings where the toddler is screaming, the baby is crying, and I’m losing it right along with them. Days where my husband is seated at his home office before sunup and staying there until ten or eleven at night, on call until midnight, while I struggle to find three consecutive minutes to sit down at my own desk and try not to worry about my dwindling paycheck. Fighting back jealousy while watching friends complete project after quarantine project while we barely manage to keep our household clean enough for suitable living standards. Trying to explain to my crying child why we can’t go visit his grandparents.

But mostly, there have been average days, where we either trot or sludge through the hours with eyes on the prize (bedtime) and pray for forgiveness for the day’s errors and promise to do better tomorrow, gathering the strength to try again. We didn’t master a new skill or develop a new hobby or cross off all the items on the honey-do list or have soul-shattering, ground-breaking self discoveries. We just were. We held close as a family and put our heads down and kept going.

And so as a gift to myself for making it this far, I allow myself to just be. I’m not celebrating; I’m not mourning. We’ve made it through the sixty-odd days at home with no break, and we will continue to move forward, and I will be grateful and exhausted and everything else and will feel each of those feelings for the reality that they are.

Erica Tran
Erica was born and raised in Metairie and now lives in Kenner with her husband Michael, her two sons, Benjamin (3 years; truck enthusiast) and Joshua (6 months; drooler extraordinaire), and the bane of her existence, Cuddy the Fish. After graduating from UL Lafayette with a degree in advertising and landing her dream job, she left her chosen field and now works part time as an administrative assistant for a Catholic retreat movement. She spends the rest of her time at home with her boys, finding lost trucks and actively ignoring various messes. In 2019, she self-published her first book, The Sister. In the rare moments she's not working, reading and writing, or chasing her kids, she's probably sprawled on the sofa with a Coke Icee and pretending her house is cleaner than it is.

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