COVID 19 through the eyes of a Couples Therapist: The Silver Lining

Throughout last month the clouds of uncertainty grew thicker while the threat of the illusive enemy, smaller than the eye can see and deadlier than we anticipated, sneaked closer and closer. My family has been on semi-lock-down for few weeks. I limited my couples therapy sessions to online therapy and would only show up in my Los Angeles couples therapy clinic when online therapy was not an option. 

Like many of us, I had a ton of free time on my hands. However, it was surprisingly difficult for me to stay productive, creative and engaged. Despite my best intentions, I just couldn’t make myself write, record videos or read. Coming up with new ideas for a blog appeared to be futile. The timing seemed to be less opportune for discussion of relationships and couples therapy, and much more suitable for soothing the anxiety and uncertainty in the air. “Who cares about the stages of relationships, attachment, conflict resolution skills and intimacy right now?” –  my inner voice inquired. “We are at war. Do you have anything new to add to the coronavirus conversation?” 

These thoughts swirled in my head for past few days and this morning it came to me – Yes, I do have something to say. I realized the opportunity hidden in the coronavirus crisis. In my Los Angeles couples therapy clinic you would often here me say - “Each crisis is an opportunity in disguise.” Our work is to find that seed of a new possibility, that silver lining. 

Today it dawned on me! It has been a while since we experienced global all-encompassing uncertainty of such degree. Our physical and financial wellbeing, our prospects for the future and our very sense of existential stability are all placed into question. We find ourselves pulled from our future-focus, our reaching and striving, to the place that is here and now. Survival is about here and now and this is where the first blessing lies. Whenever the path is enveloped in a thick fog, we are forced to look down underneath our feet and pay attention to each step. We are called to look around, take stock and count our blessing. We are no longer taking for granted strong walking legs and sturdy shoes that can withstand the road we travel by. We have new appreciation for a bag of rice in our pantry and supply of fresh water in our garage. Waking up next to our loved one, watching a sunrise or hugging our children is filled with a new depth of emotion and connection. The very awareness of the fragility of our human experience and it’s finality fills every moment with meaning. It teaches us to take a deep breath, ground ourselves in the moment, reevaluate the priorities in our life, rethink our future aspirations and realize the folly of self-importance. 

The first teaching of covid-19 is about our humanness and our reconnection to who we really are, while the second one is about our place in the bigger scheme of things. It is humbling to see how fragile our civilization is in the face of nature. After only few weeks of humans making themselves scarce, the peacocks are back and roaming the streets of Madrid, the ozone layer is recovering, the pollution above China dissipated, the water in Venice canals is crystal clear with dolphins and swans reclaiming their territory, Los-Angeles skies are crisp blue and dolphins are frolicking just few feet of the Los-Angeles shore. I think it is invaluable reminder of the resilience of our planet and of our place in nature. We are guests here, not landlords. If we reciprocate the hospitality of our planet, it is going to be a marvelous co-creative experience. In the midst of crisis there seem to be a silver lining. 

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