When am I going to be done here at the ER?
When am I going to court?
When will they get arrested?
When will they call me back?
When are things going to get better?
I hear “When?” a lot at my job. Timelines make us feel better, like we are in control of the situation and have an end in sight.
When you get your discharge instructions.
When we go through all the legal stuff that happens before a trial.
When the officer has finished their investigation.
When they are back in the office… and if you don’t hear back from them, call them again.
But to “When are things going to get better?”
…I don’t know.
The nice thing about the question “When?” is that there is often a concrete answer attached, even if nobody knows the answer. We just know it will happen, and we hang onto that hope. I often will tell my clients when they are facing something of utmost anxiety, like waiting for a jury to come back, that “This will soon be done. In an hour or two hours or maybe even a day, no matter what happens, this part will be done.”
That strategy has been thrown out the window in the past few months.
One of the most difficult things about COVID restrictions—and it’s something I see personally and professionally—is that “When?” isn’t so easy to answer anymore. And it’s my opinion that because we don’t have that spark of hope, that sigh of relief, that end in sight… it makes us feel a bit miserable and hopeless.
I think of it like this: When you’re working and you have the weekends off, Fridays aren’t so terrible. You have something to look forward to. But could you imagine if you had no clue when you were off work? It would be anxiety producing. You would stop losing focus of your tasks. And no matter when you’d get off work, it just would not feel fair. That’s where we all are right now.
We want a finish line, because that’s when you get to rest and breathe.
When are things going to get better? I don’t know. But maybe it’s okay to rest and breathe before the finish line. Maybe it’s okay to take time off even if you are working from home and can flex your time. Maybe it’s okay to change our traditions and do things differently right now for our safety. When can you do that?
Maybe things can get better now.
This blog post was written by Sexual Assault Counselor Alicia Rathosky.