When Freedom Creates Loss

April 4, 2021

By Ken Barringer

As we are on the verge of reentering our new world who amongst us would logically say “I’m
concerned about letting go of how I have been living since March of 2020”? What would there
be to get concerned about? After a year plus of purgatory we are starting to experience the
freedom to see friends, go to our offices and resume activities that bring us joy. The days are
getting longer and warmer, the lightness of summer is on the doorstep. However, this
opportunity will also require us to let down the walls of protection we have put up to defend
against the recurring trauma with which we have lived. These walls helped us survive and are
how we protected ourselves. The purpose behind this blog is to provide education around why
you might feel off when everyone is telling you to feel on.

Little did we know in the winter of 2020 we would be entering a prolonged period of daily grief
and loss. Whether that grief was the death of someone important to us, the loss of a job, food
insecurity, the exposure of social injustice or the climate, social isolation or a loss of innocence.
We have been “on” for a very long time. We did whatever we needed to in order to keep going.
We dove into feelings or avoided them, we exercised relentlessly or sat idle, we worked more
or worked less, we developed new interests or continued to do things that didn’t engage us, we
protested or wished things were different from afar. Whatever we did or did not do these
things perhaps created a sense of direction to get through each day. These coping skills will all
be in a state of change and evolution now. Our new freedoms will ask us to shed some of the
systems we developed to survive.

“How can this be bad?” No one is saying it is. It’s merely highlighting that a change in lifestyle is
coming. Even if we are changing something that wasn’t good for us, it was still part of us and
are we open to saying goodbye (or good riddance) in order to say hello to our next
opportunity? Having just completed the college basketball tournaments perhaps we can
borrow an apt metaphor. In college basketball a team may play (if fortunate) about 30-35
games in a season. Thus, players are conditioned for that many games. What happens if a
player moves on to professional basketball the next season and is asked to play 82 games? Yes,
professional basketball is a step up from college and many players strive for this. However,
somewhere around game 40 of a professional season first year players “hit the wall”. They are
being asked to do something they didn’t do last year – and the season isn’t even half over. We
have to be aware the wall is there so that we don’t run into it. Instead, we can go over or
around it and not get blindsided by it.

We will be coming out of pandemic darkness but with addition can sometimes come