My Recent Covid Scare and the Goodness of the World

by | Jan 16, 2022 | Anxiety | 20 comments

If you’re sick of hearing about COVID, we understand! This week’s Gathering Gold episode is about a few themes that are being highlighted for many highly sensitive people in their internal landscapes during the pandemic: anguish over an inflated sense of responsibility; health anxiety; and struggles in relationship.

For many HSPs, it can be difficult to walk the line between doing the necessary diligent work to protect our loved ones and the greater collective, and finding the limit of what we can actually control. Victoria and I unpack some of the layers underneath a sense of being overly-responsible (not just in relation to covid) from fear of loss, to family of origin patterns, to fear of taking responsibility for one’s own emotional experience.

I also share what helps me get through the toughest moments of health anxiety, including finding comfort from maternal figures in the imaginal realm. * see below for a short piece on a recent covid scare, which I also talk about in the podcast episode as well.

And, we discuss the struggles that are arising in relationships right now, especially between HSP and non-HSP partners who have different levels of risk comfort and tolerance, and between people who have been spending a lot of time at home alone together over the past two years.

Finally, I share some grounding techniques for HSPs to practice and hold onto during this time of continued challenge.

We look forward to hearing your comments and, if you feel inspired, we always appreciate a review on Apple or Spotify. Thank you for listening and we hope this episode in particular lands in a soft place inside of you as we’re all still trying to navigate through these difficult times. ❤️

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* A Covid Scare and the Goodness of the World

January 12, 2022

We had a covid scare on Sunday. We were driving home from Santa Fe and Asher said he had a sore throat. I didn’t think much of it, but as it persisted throughout the day I started to worry. By the time we got home, a slow panic had started to set in. We’ve been in this pandemic for almost two years and we’ve managed to avoid covid so far, but now Omricon is burning through the world like wildfire. I know it’s mild. Some part of me believed we’d be fine if we got it. But I really, really didn’t want us to get it. 

As we were getting ready for bed, it occurred to me that our neighbor Laura might have some of her magic bee throat spray, so I texted her and she said yes, I have four bottles, I’ll leave them on the wall. Come right over. 

When I got home and curled up in bed, I wrote these words:

I pulled out of the driveway to pick up the bee spray from Laura and had a God-and-Gratitude moment: our peaceful road; the snow on the trees; the bright stars and quarter moon. It felt like magic. And as I sit here before bed next to Asher and his sore throat I’m filled with so much love for this world: the miracle of being alive, the miracle of snow and trees and cats and the goodness of humans who help each other through difficult times. I know there’s so much pain and hardship in the world – and I think we’re aware of that now more than ever – but there’s far more goodness.

And sometimes it takes fear and, for me, this moment of a covid scare to illuminate the goodness – to get me outside at 9pm when it’s 14 degrees because our neighbor, who has been our guardian angel since we first moved in and I was pregnant with Asher, encouraged me to come by to pick up the four bottles. “Better to come tonight than wait until morning, and I can bring them over if that’s easier,” she said in her nurse-and-motherly way. There are mothers everywhere. 

There’s so much goodness in the world, and it’s braided into the hard stuff. When we let the hard stuff crack us open and lead us to reach out for help, the goodness rushes in, and it feels, to me, like God. 

I wrote this and then three hours later I woke from a half-sleep in pure terror, a chill that felt like had turned my blood to ice. I huddled in my bed shivering uncontrollably, hearing anxious brain send me worst-case scenarios about Asher’s sore throat. I couldn’t get underneath the terror. Minutes passed. Shivering. Every time I started to fall back to sleep the terror woke me up. 

And then I conjured my women anchors: Carrie looking into my eyes, smiling and saying, “You’re fine, honey. I know it.” Jessica standing guard at the foot of my bed, protecting and loving me like she’s done since we were eleven. And Lisa, my soul-sister since sixteen, now a rabbi, chanting Hebrew prayers and reminding me that God is only a breath away. 

And then I imagined my three imaginal women arriving, also holding vigil around my bed.

And then the two female therapists who have been the most influential in my life.

And Laura.

Nine women standing guard around my bed.

In this circle of protection I knew that the terror wasn’t present day. It was my infant self being whisked to the nursery, away from the warmth of my mother, just moments after being born. I needed her warm skin, not the cold of the starched white sheets that lined the bassinet. I was so cold. I was alone. I was in terror. It must have felt like I was going to die. Just like now. 

But the past is not the present, and as soon as I was able to name that the past had wept into the present, I took that young baby me out of the bassinet and brought her into my bed, just like I did with my sons in those early years. I held her close as the women held me, concentric circles of love and protection. A layer of trauma emerged. A layer of trauma healed. 

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20 Comments

  1. Ahh yesss I’ve been checking everyday for a new episode! Your podcast is so nourishing for my soul 🙂 can’t wait to listen!

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      • Aww this is so beautiful Sheryl! Thank you for sharing! I felt an anxious trembling in my sleep last night, fear of being alone even though I’m not at all in any way! I shook it off the best I could this morning stretching and getting outside! I spent some time with myself then did a bike ride with the family and I feel 10,000 x better now. I hate when this anxiety comes up out of nowhere but then Im reminded to be positive and proud of how far I come. These events are happening less and less as I do the inner work. 🙂

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        • How good that you were able to take loving action and get into your body, get outside, and be with others! And that you’re noticing that life has more ease the more we do our inner work. 🥰

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  2. So beautiful. I love the explicit witnessing of a layer of trauma emerging in order for it to heal. Thank you, Sheryl. 🙂

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      • How amazing that in an attempt to heal your son’s illness you were led to heal your own trauma. Thank you for sharing all that you do since it often allows me to know I am not the only one who feels so deeply about so much.
        Also LOVE your podcast with your niece!

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      • Hi again, Sheryl! I don’t listen to podcasts much and I hadn’t yet listened to Gathering Gold, but the topic you described in this post struck me so exactly where I am right now. I decided to listen and am so grateful I did and grateful to you and Victoria for the conversation. I laughed out loud several times out of empathy and feeling seen, and I cried too.

        My mom got COVID (she’s fully recovered now!) while we were on vacation together with my boyfriend and his parents, and I felt responsibility for everyone in our party and trying to make sure we didn’t get others sick. It’s powerful to consider that taking on everyone’s responsibility is maybe not helpful and actually avoids confronting what needs to be held within me. I love the image of going from a lightning rod to a lighthouse through self love.

        Also the trip was a huge growth experience in making decisions with my boyfriend around our differing levels of COVID anxiety. And I definitely think I got “insta-COVID” as soon as my mom did. I laughed long and full when you said that Sheryl. 😂

        There were so many things you two said that were healing — one that especially held me was Victoria saying she’s felt shame for getting sick — in my health anxiety there is a very large part that comes from feeling preemptive shame that I might take a risk (as small as getting in a car to go to an event) and end up dying — as if it’s my job to stay alive and my parents (especially my parents but also my sisters and other family / authority figures) will be angry with me if I die. And to this day I feel this awkward “I’m a good girl!” feeling when I answer the doctor’s questions the “right” way at my annual physical. It was so helpful to have that called out by Victoria and to consider.. maybe I don’t need to please my doctors.. I’ll need to feel into that one. 🙂

        Thank you both. Love to both of you. ❤️😌

        Reply
        • Thank you so much for this thoughtful moment, Jamie. I’m so glad the episode resonated, and I’ll make sure that Victoria reads this as well. “Insta-covid”! I had a return laugh imagining your knowing laugh! ❤️🙏🏽😊💕

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  3. Absolutely beautiful ❤️ Thank you 🙏.

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  4. This post really touched me, Sheryl. I’m trying to hold the tension between pandemic anxiety/isolation and needing to be tapped into some level of hope/goodness right now before I birth a new baby into this world. Thank you for revealing to us how you show up for all the different facets of yourself and your experience during this crazy time. ❤️

    Reply
    • There’s so much hope and goodness, Cindy! 💕💕

      Reply
      • 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

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  5. I appreciate the segment about relationships. This has been a huge struggle for me for the past two years because I already struggle with relationship anxiety (I took the course a few times) and I have yet to find any stories that I really resonate with. All the other couples really do seem like they’re way more on the same page than my partner and I. And when I made the mistake of looking elsewhere on the internet for stories like mine, all I saw was that those relationships were actually ended by the covid struggle. I don’t consider myself a hypochondriac nor do I think I’ve been extreme in any way during all of this; I have taken plenty of measured risks. But my partner is pretty far on the opposite end: not vaccinated, no plans to get vaccinated, deeply embedded political views and beliefs that seem to be the primary factors in his decisionmaking, always around tons of people, mask resistant, had symptoms recently and didn’t get tested and continued to go out among people, the list goes on. Everyone else’s partners, as far as what I’ve heard, have compromised a lot more and been careful in some way. When I try to get to the underlying feelings to be able to empathize with him, I’m usually met with a lot of numbers, statistics, logic, etc. and I don’t know how to empathize with that. Every time I hear of a new variant, mandates coming back, etc, I don’t just worry about the health aspect, I worry that this will finally do us in because I don’t know how much more I can take of us handling it so differently. And when it’s finally all over, will I even be able to let go and move on from the damage that has been done?

    Reply
    • Heidi: I’m glad you’re in couples therapy. It sounds like there may be underlying core differences in terms of values, and this is the piece that would need to be addressed in therapy. Sending you a big hug.

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      • That’s one of your few red flags. 🙁

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  6. Forgot to mention, we are in couples therapy.

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  7. Sheryl have you thought about a more detailed post on how therapy and journaling about the intrusive thoughts and the “what do I do about it?” Wrong questions can actually keep people in a loop? Or do more harm than good? Such as ROCD? As mental health awareness increases and with that individualized therapy becomes more common practice I wonder if it can be a determinate to some sensitive souls.

    Reply

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