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Gifts From COVID

For nearly two and one half years, the dread of COVID had not been far removed from my thoughts, constantly wondering if I or someone I care about would come down with it. Vigilance and protective measures were the norm for me; I even felt a brief period of resilience because I hadn’t gotten it yet when everyone around me had already had it.

Then, it happened—the onset of fatigue, a little queasy feeling in my belly, then the full

onslaught of fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat, and not even a speck of energy.

After two negative COVID tests, I presumed it was the flu. The third morning confirmed

what I didn’t want to know—that I had tested positive for COVID.

As much as I had tried to “keep it away”, COVID settled itself deep into my body uninvited.

The body aches felt like I had done major physical work, when in fact, the opposite was

true. The fever was nonresponsive to fever reducing agents; the chills and subsequent

sweats would come out of nowhere, forcing me to wear clothes I normally reserve for the

winter---yanking them off one minute and grabbing to put them back on the next. The

cough was a different entity all by itself—leaving me wheezing and breathless from my

chest and my throat sore and raw. Indeed, this presence was fully embodied in me—a host

to this unforgiving parasite draining every ounce of energy from my being.

At first, I didn’t want to acknowledge that I had COVID. I didn’t want to be sick; didn’t have

time to be sick because I had ‘x, y, z, things’ to do. I hadn’t raised my hand to say ‘yes, I’ll

have some of that please’ because I didn’t want to be inconvenienced, behind, irresponsible,

or a whole list of other reasons why I didn’t need or have the time to be sick. The irony

here, in my opinion, is that I got sick because I was pushing through week after week of

extra demands, tasks, family medical situations, not resting well…… No matter how busy I

was, I couldn’t outrun the COVID intruder. I had been showing up for everyone else except


So there I was, laying on my couch, not having the endurance to do anything else except sit

with that awareness--- I hadn’t been showing up for myself. No matter how many times

I’ve spoken about the necessity of self-care, I hadn’t been following my own guidance. I had

a passing thought of ‘when it rains it pours’. Then I paused for a moment, not like I could

do anything else anyway, and reflected on another meaning of RAIN that I often share with

my clients. In that moment, something shifted for me, wherein I moved from place of

resistance to a place of acceptance.

You see, the RAIN model that I’m speaking about here invites a softness, a gentleness, a

nourishment which is in stark contrast to the ‘I don’t have time for this’ mentality I had

previously been showing up with. RAIN is a mindfulness model that invites a widening of

perspective; a softening of the heart; and an acceptance of what is in the moment. RAIN

invites self-compassion rather than judgment. RAIN is an easy to use tool for practicing

mindfulness and self-compassion in 4 steps:

R—Recognize what it happening in the moment

A—Allow the experience to be there, just as it is

I—Investigate with interest and care

N—Nurture or Nourish with compassion

When I recognized I was sick, and there wasn’t much I could do about it, I realized the

efforts to ‘control it’ were a moot point. Recognizing the only way toward restored health

was to rest, drink fluids, rest some more, and let go of other responsibilities so that I could

heal, I softened into the moment. Allowing the full throttle experience of COVID was an

approach that seemed counter-intuitive to me; however, I didn’t have much of a choice.

Allowing (and accepting) is not the same thing as agreement; it’s the approach ‘it is what it

is’ for now. In those moments of being held captive by my body aches and fever, I didn’t

have a choice---it was what it was for those moments and days.

I cannot name the exact time frame or moment when this awareness happened for me,

though I can say at some point, sitting in partnership with my thoughts that I became

curious about what I needed, what was the felt-sense of my illness in my body in that

moment. I investigated and was able to discern that I needed to rest, that I needed to be

still, that I didn’t need to worry about the house, the unanswered emails, or anything else. I

needed to be still and be present with myself. This awareness wasn’t met with harshness

or a judgmental attitude, rather a softness and compassion that it literally took me to ‘run

out of gas’ for me to give in to my need to rest and restore and replenish.

From this place of compassion, I nurtured myself with warm mugs of hot tea, ample

amounts of time resting, permission to let go. It was a quiet whisper, a gentle promise to

myself, a recommitment reminding myself that I do enough, and it’s okay to slow down for

a bit.

So from these quiet moments, wrapped outwardly in the throes of illness; an inner

acknowledgment and commitment was rekindled. These are the gifts COVID offered for

me—the opportunity to once again reconnect with myself, honoring myself for showing up

on this journey. I also was reminded of the poem, The Guest House, by the Sufi poet Rumi.

Sometimes we cannot control who or what shows up at our door. We can practice the

simple approach of RAIN to navigate the visitor(s) with acceptance and self-compassion.

Jennifer Froyd, MA, LCMHC

(RAIN of self compassion:


The Guest House

Poem by: Jellaludin Rumi,
(translation by Coleman Barks)

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

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