Transitions are stressful, even the good ones. When I was raising toddlers, their father traveled for work. The departures were hard. The returns were harder. Partly it was because I didn’t see it coming. After looking forward to his return for weeks, it did not occur to me that it could be both joyful and hard. But it was more than that. The returns meant adjusting to a changed reality. Children had matured. Routines had changed. Life went on while he was away and we weren’t picking up where we left off. At the same time we were renegotiating our relationships. The subtle shifts that happen day to day add up over weeks. As we grabbed for the connection we had been missing, we slammed into weeks worth of lived emotions, untold stories and shifting opinions. Conflict was common. After the first few trips, I learned not to be surprised. We found ways of reconnecting both solidly and slowly. We learned to honor the new reality of now, respect how little we knew it, and to carefully navigate the realignment together.
So why am I telling you this? Because I think our communities are headed into a massive homecoming. The transition back to common meals and indoor gatherings is likely to be even more stressful than when we paused those things. Conflict is likely. We aren’t the same as we were a year ago. Our world will remain marked by Covid. And so are we.
Neighbors who were reliably aligned before may find themselves feeling very differently about rolling back constraints. A licked finger will feel like a loaded gun to some and nothing at all to others. We’ll be watching ourselves – wondering what’s OK and what’s not. OK for me? OK for others? What to do with the difference?
As we come back to the Common House I hope we’ll enjoy our homecoming. Here are the things I learned about doing homecoming well.
- Connect in parts. It’s OK if some of us reconnect first while others hang back. It gives us space to find our way with each other.
- Don’t rush. It doesn’t need to happen all at once. Taking it slow gives everyone time to adjust.
- Connect with self. What am I feeling? What do I want? Is that different from what I expected or what others expect of me? Allow self to feel what she feels. Honor her present needs as they are now.
- Communicate. Stop to talk about how the transition is going. What’s working? What’s not? What’s surprising? What’s really present now?
Your community will face many transitions over the years you live together and each will bring challenges. As you go into this one keep in mind that is the biggest since move in. Practice patience and empathy. Hug each other tight, and know when to let go.
Tags: Covid, reopen