The lock-down: AKA forced self-development course
The last six weeks has been interesting to say the least. Living with another human being in close quarters -we’re sharing a room and a bed- in everyday life is a lot, let alone in isolation/lock-down. I think the best way I can describe it is an intense 6 week long self-development course. That is fueled by doubt, insecurities and the necessity to make progress so that living together is not only manageable but also enjoyable.
It has been eye opening seeing how different we process our thoughts and emotions. Liz needs to verbalise everything to be able to work through it. I on the other hand can’t seem to verbalise anything until it’s had time to race through my head more than a few times at varying speeds. If I don’t stop, write it down and talk to myself about it, it can get a bit out of hand. Not the most efficient use of brain power but hey it has worked thus far. At that point I’m ready to talk to someone one about it.
I realised in the first few weeks that I needed to let Liz know what was going on, not because she was asking me what was going on -which she was- but because it created an uncomfortable energy in the room we were sharing. I tend to go pretty quiet when I’m trying to process thoughts or emotions. So as you can imagine, for someone like Liz who is extremely extroverted and loves a chat, dealing with someone who is the polar opposite could be a little difficult.
At that point we had established that staying together as roommates beyond lock-down was something we both wanted. We valued (and liked) each other enough to make a commitment to intentionally work on ourselves, together and apart.
Cue the self-development. We had some tremendously uncomfortable conversations. I think it’s safe to say we both had a hard time being vulnerable in these situations. Getting to know what triggers each of us has been a bit of a mine field. Working out how to acknowledge the trigger when it happens hasn’t been any easier. Thankfully we both have the same to reaction to anything that upsets us. We shut down physically and emotionally. The reason I say thankfully is because we can recognise the internalisation in each other. Trust me when I say it helps, I can visually see when Liz goes into shut down mode. Does it mean I handle it better? Not necessarily. It’s definitely a work in progress.
As the weeks went on these conversations became more frequent and slightly less uncomfortable. We became more comfortable creating a routine for the both of us and generally working out how to have fun with our limited access to hiking and climbing spots.
So, my biggest trigger is being told what to do. We had a situation about a week ago where we had gone to the park to hit a few tennis balls with our makeshift softball bat. I verbalised the thought of running back to the house after we had finished. Liz’s immediate reaction was to tell me I couldn’t. To that I reacted and went quiet. I felt extremely uncomfortable and no longer wanted to continue talking or playing. Not exactly proud of this reaction but by this point we were 4 weeks into our intense intentional self-development and I was painfully aware of it at that moment. I realised I had no idea what her reasoning was for saying no. Therefore didn’t have enough evidence to be weird and shut down about it.
So, two minutes later I confronted Liz -This is a big win by the way, I potentially could have sat on that for a lot longer before saying anything- I made it clear what she said made me react. We had a discussion about the fact that she had planned to ride her bike around the track before heading home and didn’t want to carry the bat with her. The conversation was civilised and we agreed that the way we both reacted didn’t fit with where we wanted to be emotionally or mentally. This may seem like a small thing we were dealing with but it was a moment of achievement for both of us. This situation plays out in our lives where there is a lot more at stake than how we are getting home. Being able to consciously acknowledge that we had reacted instead of thoughtfully responding is the start of changing the habit. Respond rather than react.
Going into week 7 and we are cruising through. At this point the uncomfortable conversations and self-reflection is becoming a way of living and creating unintentional development.
As hard as I have been internally fighting this, it has been a great opportunity to push myself and strive to be better person for myself. I could not have asked for a better person to be my sounding board in this bizarre situation we are in.