Catharsis and Connection

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Image Description: Crying, blue eyes.
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“I know it’s so arbitrary, but I am so ready to cross over into 2021.”

I said this repeatedly to a number of people over several days.

I’m a realist, and I know that the challenges of 2020 persist. But I’m also appreciative of the fresh start effect: There’s power in moments when we collectively agree that time is renewed, even if it’s an arbitrary change in the number that marks our calendar year.

But when I got about two hours away from the ball drop, I just wept. I didn’t expect this. It was a catharsis. The last year felt violent. It felt painful. And some are living with the absence of loved ones in tangible, persistent ways.

After crying, I remembered that some things can be renewed. Grief remains, and I don’t need to put a silver lining on it. But our stories continue, and we can surround each other emotionally and energetically in the midst of these challenges.

Sometimes, in fact, connection emerges spontaneously… I want more of this in 2021.

One hour later at 11pm, I dialed a number for a conference call. On Thursday afternoons, I facilitate a support group for the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan over the phone. On December 31, we connected during our typical afternoon time, and we began to talk about our New Year’s Eve plans.

“We want to ring in the new year together!” they said.

“Okay, let’s do it,” I said. “Who wants to call back at 11? We’ll cross into 2021 together.”

We did.

Without much planning ahead of time, people called from across the state of Michigan. We connected and found some things to celebrate. We sang a Christmas song together just because we wanted to do it. Why not? We played a game and laughed hard.

It was lovely.

If we’re feeling catharsis, it’s valid. We may need it.

If we’re feeling celebration, it’s valid. We may need it.

The challenges remain. And… we begin again.

Renee Roederer

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