Roller Coaster of Emotions

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster.  Not related to retirement transition, but still impacting my retirement lifestyle!  This emotional roller coaster comes with a realization that I’m slipping back into my pre-retirement negativity of seeing the bad in everything.  Since retiring, I’ve been consciously trying to put Positive Psychology into practice (top eleven elements blog link here), primarily because I’m not a naturally positive person.   This week has shown me, I need more effort here!

We are finally (after 5 weeks) seeing a dissipation of the Red Tide (an out-of-control toxic algae bloom), only to have an out-of-control COVID Delta Variant surge.  And I do mean out-of-control with  >21,000 new cases a day (on average!) in our state and many hospitals out of ICU beds.  The unwilling-to-vaccinate individuals combined with unwilling-to-mask seem to be driving this latest surge locally.  

My emotions this week: Worry. Guilt. Anger.

  • Worry about going to any gathering.  The question becomes “To gather or not to gather?”  Do I merely hope everyone else is vaccinated? Is it impolite to ask?  I hope for outdoor events, but right now it can often be 90F (32C) at 9 PM or thunderstorms at 7PM forcing us indoors.  I had just started to re-engage in my book club, garden club, local woman’s group, and my new woman’s philanthropic club.  And now, I worry about going out and being with people.
  • Worry about access to healthcare.  We’re not young and healthy anymore; we are of the age that could need emergency care – heart attack, stroke.  This is not crazy thinking on my part – both hubby and I have siblings who have had heart attacks or strokes.  Local hospitals ERs are swamped and ICUs are full.  I worry that if we need medical attention, we won’t get it.
  • Guilt when an outdoor event goes inside and I don’t leave; the morning after second-guessing is horrible, taking joy away from the event.  Guilt when I don’t demand a worker in my home to wear a mask, even though I am not in the same room.  Did I expose myself to COVID?  Am I now a carrier?  Because even though I am vaccinated, apparently I can be a carrier with the new Delta variant.
  • Anger that I even though I can go out & about again without impact of poor air quality from Red Tide (and yes, it was bad), I can’t go out & about again because of possible exposure to COVID.  I had hoped for a return to pre-pandemic normal since our move coincided with vaccines widely available. First, Red Tide limitations and now CVOID concern limitations are keeping me socially isolated.
  • Anger at all the individuals who willingly won’t vaccinate.  They have allowed a more potent variant to emerge and spread.  They are responsible for hospitals being swamped and health care workers inundated.  They are responsible for all the long-term impact cases and all the new deaths.  And they are responsible for my retirement life being limited again.
  • Anger at myself for all of these feelings – the worry, the guilt, even the anger.  I’m blessed.  Really.  Unlike others managing through this pandemic, we are healthy, financially secure, and not having to juggle a work-from-home, teach-from home situation.  So whether this is feeling guilty for the anger or just angry with myself for whining, this is a negative spiral.

I do try and balance the worry, guilt, and anger with gratitude and moments of delight, like the sunset pictured in my header.  And there have been delightful moments this week – D bringing me a lovely Chinese Evergreen plant, Hubby hiding birthday cards all over for me to find throughout the day, a lovely charcuterie board dinner with wine, a long beach walk & talk with B, and our new kitchen tile looking better than expected.

I thought I could jump into an out & about retirement lifestyle with our move.  But, now I know in these final days of summer and into fall, I need to shift to a social-distancing mindset again.   And continue the effort to put Positive Psychology into practice, since that was not my expectation!

Do you need to backtrack in your return to pre-pandemic “normal”?   How does that make you feel?

27 thoughts on “Roller Coaster of Emotions

  1. Dear Pat, I am so sorry that you are going through this frustration. One good thing, even if you get upset with yourself, you are able to articulate and understand your own worry, guilt and anger. Think how many people can’t or don’t know how? And frustrating? Oh, humanity! The Delta surge, along with the political ranting, mistrust, etc make everything extra difficult. And then there is planning. On t he church side of things, we have not been unmasking all that long. I am not much of a rule breaker and so it is only t he last few weeks that I have said, okay, put the hymnals and bibles back in the pew and take down the tape blocking off every other pew. And now? Maybe put your masks back on. it makes planning events difficult. But there is one other thing I want to offer you. I have been out of the loop and not keeping up with reading do to medical things here. but I am thinking it has not been that long since your big move. that, in and of itself is emotional, or can be. As a pastor, every time I have moved (We are itinerant and go where the bishop says go) I have spent the first two weeks in each new place crying, and grieving. People were nice and welcoming, that wasn’t the point. it was grief. And we know from experience that COVID complicated everything possible. Be gentle with yourself, glad that you are self-aware and articulate and able to process this. Thankful for you and your writing. Best and blessings, Michele

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    1. Michele, Thanks for the insight on moving. Our last 4 moves were all within the city, and even then, on one of them I had huge grief and am recalling that now. I didn’t associate my feelings now with this aspect (the move) but I am sure it is adding to it – I am missing a number of folks. Even my next door neighbor – not a close friend, but someone I regularly chatted with. And thanks for just noting the positivity of being self-aware. That in of itself is validating!

      I totally get the challenge with planning. We’ve gone back to wearing masks. I’ve got one on now as I’ve got a worker in the kitchen…. we are refreshing the kitchen. Planned pre Covid-resurge, but most workers have been fine with masking up. I lived in one house for 13 years, and waited 10 to refresh the kitchen there…. although I wanted to from day 2. Hubby said, ‘do not wait 10 years on this one. do it now.” 🙂 I need to focus on those aspects – getting a refreshed kitchen, beach walks again (Red Tide is down), and cooking new recipes (in my soon to be done kitchen). I’ve pulled back from social gatherings again (even outdoors if large group) as in Florida, there are too many non-maskers. I’m less worried about myself than worried about being a spreader and someone else getting it bad. (Hospitalizations locally are at an all time high.)

      Thanks for your comments!

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  2. I share your anger and frustration. In preparation for what we hoped would be a late fall start to a kitchen renovation, we got a home equity line of credit approved in July (it actually took three full months because of all the frantic mortgage activity this year). So now we have the funding, but I’m not even calling any contractors now for quotes until probably December at the earliest. I don’t want workmen in the home until things “settle down,” whatever that means anymore. – Marty

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    1. We had everything on the kitchen refresh booked before this latest COVID surge. But luckily, most all the workers have been fine with wearing masks all day inside. They take breaks outside with no masks, but indoors fully masked. And we’ve tried to not be in same room with them, so either outside ourselves or in a backroom. And yeah, we are masked up also. I’ll be happy when it’s done… end of next week.

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  3. Dear Pat and Friends, we live in a time where about everyone blasts their personal business about everywhere – so, of course, it’s no big deal to broadcast one’s personal medical business. By the way, what ever happened to, “my body, my right?”

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  4. Did your friend get regular covid? Or the Delta variant of covid? I ask because I wish there was more true info on folks being covid vaccinated and still can be a carrier of the Delta. Pat… You are one of the smartest people I know. Can you help us with this?

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    1. Rita, The Delta variant is the dominant one here in Florida. From what I’ve read, if you are higher risk to Covid complication, you are higher risk of breakthrough from the vaccine. However, the breakthrough infection will be much less severe if you are vaccinated. So with Covid running rampant, we need to go back to higher safety measures – masking, social distancing, no large gatherings. And hopefully if everyone is doing this, and is vaccinated, we can have smaller safe (no mask) gatherings. That’s my hope for the short term anyway. The challenge is many people have slipped into not social distancing & not wearing masks – lots of summer travel, summer concerts, summer gatherings, etc. In Florida, there was a lot of non-masking all along and we’ve had huge summer tourism – more than usual.

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  5. Pat, sounds like it all added up and got the best of you last week. Hey, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have a meltdown once in a while. I had a pretty nasty one last week too, but when I picked it apart, it should have been manageable. Addressing one thing at a time and accepting things that I had no control over would have served me well. Oh well, I’m human too. Back to baby steps, one day at a time…

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    1. Ahh, the “should”! You are right, I too should be able to manage this, but yes, we are human! And it’s been nice to hear lots of others feeling similar anger and worry. I’m definitely going to start trying the “accept things I have no control over” element this week. At least using that as a mantra might help when I can’t avoid the news.

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  6. I’m with you on this. I don’t understand not getting vaccinated. I especially don’t understand how it became a political issue. I hate the idea of wearing masks again but I guess some of us must be responsible and do the right thing. We even have a law that prohibits mask mandates!! Well, at least the Red Tide is subsiding!!

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    1. The law prohibiting masks is definitely an example of the political side of things! I am also wearing a mask again, avoiding gatherings again (cancelled 3 things I had agreed to do), and trying to modify my mindset. Of course, the Tropical Storm seems to have stirred Red Tide back up….but hoping it starts to dissipate again.

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  7. It’s not illegal for me to ask someone if they’re vaccinated and I have no qualms about asking if Ineed to engage with them. Before I went back to the dentist, hair salon, etc., I asked. The people who are vaccinated usually don’t have any problem responding in the positive. At my age, I’m not taking any chances. And I don’t think it’s rude if anyone asks me.

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    1. I believe those who are vaccinated won’t think it’s rude, but those who are not will think it’s rude! I guess if they think it’s rude, I won’t want to associate with them anyway!

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    1. Janis, Hubby told me about seeing reports of anger flaring on both sides of the issue. It’s scary how “political” this has become and I wonder how many more must die because of it? Florida doesn’t report new cases on the weekend…. so I’m anxious to see how bad we have gotten. Schools opened up here last week, no masks. It’s just scary.

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  8. Pat – your blog and your book helped me so much in building my vision and intentions for retirement and I had a great start at the end of 2019. Then six months later the reality of Covid really changed things. Worry, guilt and anger are words that resonate. Worry and anger are easy to understand. Guilt is the hardest for me. Why am I not using this time to do all the homebody things that need to be done? Why am I napping more than a normal person should? It’s a version of Compare & Despair perhaps. But it does help me to share with you. This week we made friends with two couples who winter in our snow bird location and share some of our interests. Making friends in a new location has been a challenge (duh) and I am giddy with the possibilities. Good luck with the red algae (blue green algae is our curse) and stay the course.
    Liz

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    1. I am SO excited to hear about your compatible couple connections!! I do hope they work out for you as I do know how hard it is to make these connections, even more so right now. I’m having to sideline some of the things I had hoped to do in that arena… maybe by late fall I can rethink them. My Compare & Despair right now is listening to friends who are in places with less Covid outbreak (and are less worrisome than me) going out and about. Dinners out, concerts, social gatherings, traveling. I feel a bit judged by them too. Like… why are you so worried? Ah well. As I’ve learned in my own retirement transition, we need to focus on what’s right for us, and no one else. And I doubt you are napping more than a “normal person” (afternoon naps are common in my household!) and you should see the list of homebody things I haven’t completed. 🙂

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  9. Hi Pat – I often feel guilty when I read posts like yours. Here in Western Australia we’re covid free and living very normally. A lot of us aren’t vaccinated because there’s nothing to be vaccinated against. I know that eventually our luck will run out, but it just seems like we’re living on another planet compared to what you guys are experiencing. Hang in there – and I think maybe you could look at the vaccination as being your protection against the disease and not worry so much about what others are doing – that’s how we live with all the other diseases we’re vaccinated against, so maybe it’s time to downgrade the covid anxiety if you’ve done all you can to protect yourself. We can’t stop living our lives – we just need to be “alert but not alarmed”. Thinking of you xx

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    1. Leanne, Apparently the Delta variant mutation, being more contagious, means even vaccinated people can spread it around. And more and more vaccinated people are having breakthroughs – luckily not that severe (less hospitalization, no deaths), but still. I think I’m more worried about becoming a spreader than being sick myself. If only everyone felt that way!

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  10. We just got back from 3 weeks in NY’s Finger Lakes, where case rates have been low recently. At every place we stopped to take in the view of the lakes or to sample wines, I said to myself, “Savor this moment in case we get locked down again.” We returned home yesterday and had dear (vaccinated) friends over for dinner 6 hours after getting home (the husband of the couple is our former family physician who is now retired, and I know that he would not come here if he felt unsafe). They had relocated out of state but were up for a family wedding, so we tried to seize the day and squeeze dinner in. We also had my son and future DIL over for breakfast and spent the afternoon at an outdoor gathering and meal with 4 other vaccinated couples. We are exhausted from our wonderful trip-but I felt compelled to do all of this visiting because we fear that isolation will be setting in again soon. We have an extended family member who got Covid for the second time (although vaccinated, but high risk) because a thoughtless friend of theirs flew in for a guys golf weekend even though he was not feeling well, and later tested positive. The Covid-positive person infected our family member and one other person, and then got on a plane with an active Covid infection and flew back home. I don’t know what people are thinking-those who are not vaccinated are incredibly thoughtless and reckless.

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    1. As I read your note, I worried that you were infected! I just heard from a friend, canceling a get together this week as a friend of hers, vaccinated, just tested positive. My friend is going in for testing today. Too many vaccinated people now getting it (Delta!) but at least it’s less severe for most of those vaccinated. But it’s back to mask wearing and no gatherings. I worry about the people flying with it…. even masked, it’s scary for everyone else on that plane.

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  11. Half the battle is recognizing when you are in a downward spiral which you just did – chin up and take the win. 🙂 It’s okay to be disappointed that socializing isn’t going to be on the schedule you had planned. I share your concerns about hospitals not being able to deal with other serious issues due to COVID swamping. (I suspect it doesn’t help that only 50% of hospital employees, yes believe it or not only 50% of nurses are not vaccinated, aren’t vaccinated.) I know I have my concerns about what we will be able to do this winter in Florida. But I know it will be better than what we can do in Ohio. 🙂

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    1. Yeah to me recognizing it! Oh my, had not heard about the hospital staff being unvaccinated… that’s even more frightening! But yeah, I am shifting my thinking on things… more solitary beach walks, less social gatherings. Of course, the Tropical Storm is stirring up the Red Tide, but I’m hoping it will dissipate again. Here’s hoping!

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  12. I hear you on this one. I had sort of a meltdown today. Power outage, COVID, fires, heat, air quality. Then I smashed my finger in the garage door while trying to close it manually due to the power outage. Later, I said it was a sign I need to lighten up. I’m very lucky. Think small not big. How can I make my life feel OK despite all odds?

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    1. My temper has also been on a razor’s edge. Great advice, thing small. Someone suggested to me to write down “50 things that are making me happy right now”. I might not get to 50, but it feels like something to do today! A good friend (vaccinated) just told me she was exposed by another friend, also vaccinated (!) but got it. Scary times.

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