Friends, where do I possibly begin? The last time I wrote this column, my brain couldn’t have housed the concept of an International lockdown, much less wrapped itself around an entire planet in crisis. Our current circumstances were inconceivable in February. I would have thought this was a lousy script if presented to me.

Shutting down our borders? Please, most of our business happens overseas.

Stores without toilet paper? That’s too dumb to acknowledge.

Closing all schools? The parents would riot!

Forcing New Yorkers to stay in their apartments? Ha! Inconceivable.

I’m a pragmatic Virgo. I cannot suspend reality for that long.

Yet here we are. The borders are closed. Businesses are locked up. We are ordered to stay inside our apartments, and the city that never sleeps looks like a deserted fairground. For the first time in our cumulative lives, we are forced to sit still.

I saw a popular meme yesterday that read, “It’s like the Universe finally got fed up and said: Go to your room and think about what you’ve done!”

I have been in my room.

I have been thinking about what we have done.

I am sure you can relate to my mood swings. I have seen the best, and worst parts of myself spew out of the same vessel with equal force. I have had extreme sorrow and inexplicable rage. I am away from my children (one of whom is immune-compromised.)

For a recovered addict, there be dragons. I am so uncomfortable that if I do not take my emotional and spiritual condition seriously, a relapse is headed my way. Fortunately, the 12-step community has rallied like no other. We understand what’s at stake. Zoom meetings and Facebook support groups have popped up everywhere. Virtual attendance is magnanimous.

I would like to offer those of you in the secular world a few basic tools from our toolbox. When things are out of control, we keep it simple by submitting to three basic principles:

Trust Higher Power

Clean House

Help Others

We know we cannot do this alone; therefore, we ask a Higher Power for guidance.

We keep our spiritual house clean by addressing those we have harmed and offering to make things right; immediately.

We avoid the rabbit hole of self-pity and despair by getting out of ourselves and serving others.

Obviously, there is so much more to it, but I wanted to share with you the basics that get me through the day. Many times I have to repeat this phrase. “Do the next right thing” over and over again. Sometimes this requires answering a phone call I don’t want to. Sometimes it’s finishing a job I don’t want to do. Sometimes it’s merely breathing through a difficult moment.

I have a fresh perspective on what and who matters to me. The only relevant thing is love. You can’t take it back once it’s given. It will tattle on you every time.

Hold on, friend. You are not alone.

Yours in solidarity,

Kristen

PS- Additionally, we are taught to Stay in the center of our herd. Do not isolate! The lions only get the people on the fringes (no, that wasn’t a Joe Exotic reference.) Stay connected!

ABOUT KRISTEN JONGEN

An internationally recognized author, artist, and motivational speaker, Kristen has written and published two books. She is the voice of Soul Soup Inc, inspirational books, prints, and greetings cards. Follow her on Instagram. If you’re having difficulty with drugs and/or alcohol, find support meetings at nyintergroup.org.

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