Being in the pandemic for two years pushed me to enjoy my own company. Back in the days before we get this isolation I was the most extroverted person I could ever be. I joined several activities, from public speaking to saving-the-trees movement organization. People still have the image of my chatty, energized, and extroverted side. It was super fun until the virus claimed lives of my family and friends. I diligently isolated and mask myself (still doing it!). I stopped socializing. I started to deactivate my social media accounts after I felt a lot during this global pandemic.

There are several names of feelings that I didn’t know how to process during this pandemic. In the beginning of the pandemic, I just felt numb. The numbness was somehow decapacitating but also exploding in the ways that I don’t understand why I felt that way. My feelings went from void inside to burst emotions and nothing in between. The burst feelings came in a tsunami kind of emotions which made me literally puked. It was ugly, stinky and burdening. Then, the void came and the world seemed stopped. No matter how long the days I had been through, it was always March 2020 for me. I went to professional therapy shortly after that.

It was not an easy journey because I went from one therapist to another. There are good ones, but also there were some bad experiences I felt in the journey of healing myself. There are feelings that I slowly learn from time to time and it makes me feeling “stuck” in a way and another.

The first feeling that I recognized was anxiety. This anxious feeling makes me afraid of moving along. Will the virus kill me or my beloved ones? Will people spread the virus without them knowing? Is it the real hand sanitizer? Anxiety made me want to do a lot of stuff at once unrealistically. Also, I live with my parents during the beginning of the pandemic. They often went into my room, took my things, and cleaned the room. I later understand that their intention was actually about building closer connection to me. However, I felt that they broke the boundaries. I felt angry and also anxious, what would they steal away again? What should I do to protect my room? How did I prevent their impoliteness from happening again? The questions went on and on topped with the anxiety I had about the virus which already brooding in my mind during the pandemic. It brings intense fear, worry or apprehension. In the positive light, this feeling helps me to be more attentive, empathetic, and mindful. If I’m anxious in making mistakes with other people’s culture, this feelings actually helps me to build a warm conversation and connectiin. Anxiety in a “nice” dose is needed because you will get extra motivation. I can relate how positive the feeling when I was a student, I was worried that I made mistakes so I double check my assignments, exams, and I studied so hard that I finally passed the exams. However, in the pandemic when the feeling interferes my life, it is another story.

These event brought me to a fight and flight mode which led me into understanding the next feeling, anger. Anger gets a bad rep in the array of emotions because it’s often destructive. It’s an ugly emotion that I often surpress. Sometimes I spurt the emotion to scare away people. I’m the fretted young woman who is dangerous for everyone nearby. However, when the festering anger resided, I needed to suppress it before it turned real ugly because I would feel guilty if I spilled all of the outrage. What I have learned recently is anger actually a beautiful feeling. Anger helps me to understand my boundaries.

I remember one day when my mom cleaned my room without my consent, I fought with her and accused her. She got hurt from my words and continued hurting me afterwards. I got more angry but couldn’t continue the fight because I felt the next feeling, guilty. Guilty is a fantastic feeling in a “good” dose. Without it, we might not feel something is wrong when we made a grave mistake. Some people said, psychopaths do not feel emotions and struggle to understand why would people got so angry if he killed a person. Guilt helps us to navigate our right or wrong judgements. I completely understand that yelling and fighting with parents is frown upon that was why I chose to keep biting my tongue when I wanted to pour out the gamut of unselected wild profane words. I didn’t feel it’s the right decision eventhough I was definitely eager to do it.

Since I felt guilty on processing my emotions, I felt so sad because I didn’t understand why it was so hard for people to understand my feelings. I mean, I had a room, I tried my best to only use the room aside from eating (it’s refrained to eat in the bedroom in our culture because it only means we are sick). I was doing my best to be the best I could be but still, my parents didn’t accept me. It was so saddening that I watched a Korean drama (which is so sad, actually) and I cried as much as I could. My mom burst into my room and asked what happened. I said, “I watch Korean drama” and she laughed so hard. She told everyone how silly I was. The truth is, it was partly true because I felt so sad living in the house and I couldn’t cry for myself. It’s better for me to cry over a Korean drama.

Is it really better? No. All of the time, I felt the next feeling that is shame. It’s a shameful for me going back to my house again in this pandemic because I couldn’t afford to pay the rent of the room. Here, we have a cheaper alternative housing which is renting a room. Even with the cheapest room, I was not able to rent it. I was shameful for asking helps because I got hesitated if people judged me of something. If other feelings got a positive light in one way and another, shame is the absence of feelings. It’s completely destructive. Shame creates feeling of self-loathing which slowly whittles away someone’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Shame can drive a person’s self-destruction. It also generates self-neglect, addictive behavior, rage, and isolation.

The first time I went to therapies, the four feelings were processed in the way that is empowering me. I move out, rent a room, and even get a new job. I thought I was happy until I needed to process the last feeling, shame. I’m so lucky because the roommate (next to my room) is a bachelor of Psychology. She told me that shame is an insidious feeling which destroys a person. She told me a story of a young kid who refused to go to the school. He did it out of shame. He got bullied in the house so he felt the pain of shame. The therapist asked the parents to move out and didn’t allow anyone in the previous household other than his parents to raise the kid. This kid now loves school so much and even flaunts the way to go to online school with anyone. He is a confident, smart, and empathetic person.

Soon after I got the story, I admitted to my therapist that I was feeling shame for doing the session. I told all my stories and she said, “It’s okay to ask for help, please don’t hesitate to contact me when you need the most.” She asked me to get a day to feel all the emotions. She made an analogy of me putting all the emotions in a box and my box was full. What I needed to do is emptying the box.

On Sunday, I used the podcast that I really love during the pandemic and it’s called Peace Sea Podcast. The person who runs the podcast, Pishi, is a person who teaches meditation. She shared a lot of fantastic story and I chose grieving meditation. Grieving meditation is a way for me to let go all of my feelings. When navigating my anxiety, I can feel my heart rushed and I opened up my eyes. I got to move! Do at least something! React! Then I go back to my breath, allowing myself to feel safe, and continue the feeling. I felt shameful because I didn’t keep on closing my eyes even I move my head around and even woke up a bit just to recharge the headset. However, nobody was around! It’s okay! I felt how anger came up my chest and I tried to slowly breath because the anger made my lungs constricted. I put my hands around me and made a butterfly hug. Like telling to a young child, I told myself to feel safe. “It’s okay” was my mantra. I felt the guilt of not loving myself enough and I cried. I cried a lot for my grieving self, who lost friends, family, and previous partners. Those were important people and I let all of them go. The memories might stay but it’s rather a memento to cherish the life.

After 90 minutes of meditation, I was feeling a bit famished. I took shower, went into a mass and somehow I felt guilty because I didn’t choose the live version. My previous partner used to force me to choose the live mass channel despite the fact that I felt comfortable with any kind of mass there is. The mass was super beautiful because it was about how merciful God is. The parable of the lost son is my favorite because it’s really hard for me to understand the unconditional love which God provides. I cried during the sermon because I can feel how much love God provides for me through the beautiful sermon that the Father gave. After going to the online mass, I had a nice bowl of cornflakes and took a nap. I wrote down my shadow work afterwards in my book which has lotus flower cover. The shadow of me is the mud for the lotus — the enlightened side of me. I can tap into the feeling of genuine gratefulness after navigating my feelings. Today, I feel so light, happy, and contented. I let myself immersed in this wonderful feelings.

I truly can feel the JOMO — Joy Of Missing Out. All of the process of tapping into myself was done without me posting the process online. I didn’t let the world know the process until now that I am able to share it. This pandemic is a blessing in disguise. I didn’t invalidate your sadness, grieving, and numbness for all the things you have lost in this pandemic. I just want to share that tapping into ourselves can bring so much power. The pandemic rips the “outer” part of me and make me learn to be vulnerable. I’m just lucky because I can navigate all of the worst feelings comfortably. I hope you can be able to tap into your inner peace. Be joyful. Allow yourself to feel. Hopefully you can grow your own lotus, too, from the murky, stinky, and hideous feelings in your heart.

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