Dear Mrs. Bluth,
Where to start? I am at a loss for how to live in this insane, new reality. I find myself in a constant state of fear, so much so, that I can no longer keep it together. How can I give my children a sense of safety when I, myself, am so terrified? They are confused and unsure and this isolation from their friends and daily routine is so hard. My husband has been laid off from his job and has become morose and depressed. Tempers are short and my husband and I have taken to snapping at each other, and at the kids for getting underfoot or whining that they are bored. I am traumatized at having to make Pesach, something I have never done before.
Up until a few days ago, I had been able to put on a false, hopeful demeanor and to hide my own anxiety and fears from them. Today, I woke up feeling as though I was fifty feet under turbulent water and drowning. Gasping for breath and trying to calm the palpitations that threatened to rip my pounding heart out of my chest it was all I could do to get out of bed.
So I just sit and do nothing. Please, help me!
Although it may be of small consolation to you, you are no different than the tens of thousands of women who are experiencing the same anxiety. This has hit us all hard, raised many questions that no human seems to be able to answer and segregates us from those we love, which causes all kinds of negative thoughts, fears and terror. We feel totally helpless while having to reassure our children that all is well.
Let me share what has worked for me.
Since it became known that those most vulnerable are people in my age bracket, my husband and I have been in quarantine. One son moved in to take care of what needs to be done. In addition, all of our children will be staying in their own homes for Pesach.
I decided to fight the fear of the unknown by taking it on full throttle. Pesach waits for no one, and so I have been sneaking out of the house at 5:30am, masked and gloved, to stock up on Pesach products at stores that opened at those ungodly hours for “senior shoppers.” The challenge was exhilarating and gave me a sense of power and strength I didn’t know I still had. Then I davened, thanking Hashem for all that He gives to us, the good and the bad, what I understand and what I don’t, and asked for His continued love, protection and bounty.
After that I had my first cup of coffee with an uplifted spirit and assurance that my prayers had been heard and would be answered.
My days are filled with answering calls from clients whom I cannot see in person, answering emails that seem to only increase in number and wave to my grandchildren who drive by each day. And I take care of my husband and clean for Pesach.
Two things you will not find me doing are sitting idle, which is in my control, and worrying about our current matzav because that is not in my control. So, please take a deep breath, understand what is in your power to accomplish and start doing what we do best. Your children need to see a mommy who is in control, this will make them feel safe and secure in the strange world they now live in. Our husband needs to see his wife, the eishes chayil of strength and beauty he married and from whom he derives his own strength.
Remember, it was in the zechus of the nashim tzidkaniyus that we were freed from Mitzrayim and it will be in our zechus that we are redeemed today.
Now, regroup, have a coffee and a piece of something sweet and gooey, I allow it. Start getting yourself moving and let the kids help you prepare for Yom Tov, give them jobs and make them feel a part of the experience. Send your husband out, masked and gloved, to help with the shopping and things will soon fall into place as you find your groove. You’ll be just fine. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need a follow-up or feel yourself falling back into depression; I’m readily available to set you right.