LIVING IN A BUBBLE
Dee Chadwick
24 May 2020
I don’t know about you, but I feel that I have spent a major part of the past few weeks living in a kind of bubble. I am not sure if this has been to protect me from any incoming virus or to protect me from the confusion, uncertainty, lack of knowing what the hell is going on in my world and the world as a whole. On closer inspection, it is probably a multi-functional bubble with a variable membrane allowing some rights of passage in and out.

MY INSPIRATION

I had been doing tasks which didn’t require too many of my grey cells to be working at full stretch and mulling about how I felt isolated from reality at times – living in that bubble of mine.  I then called a friend – and lo and behold she explained that she felt as if she was living in a bubble – so it’s not just me! Hence this blog.

An imaginary bubble and setting one up is a technique that I use with clients who are having to face something which is giving them concern, causing them anxiety. We set up the bubble in hypnosis and it’s a bubble that they then have to hand to envelop them during their time of need. They simply have an action to trigger to instantly cloak themselves in their bubble.  It’s a bubble that allows words, requests, instructions through but doesn’t allow negativity or fear to permeate the membrane. It is a bubble that is invisible, so its presence calls for no explanation. It has proved to be an effective tool for my clients.

HOW IS MY CURRENT IMAGINARY BUBBLE DIFFERENT?

The main difference is that I don’t actually use any signal to launch my bubble into action. It is simply there – coming and going according to my mood, my need for it. It is a bubble that shuts out the current concerns that surround so many of us, in a way dulling the negativity. However, if I am doing something that is making me happy, content or, to use of my Mum’s words I am feeling unflumoxed, said bubble simply isn’t there and I can soak up every ounce of positivity as I move forwards through the day. It has served me well. However, I cannot live in my make-believe bubble indefinitely. I need to return completely to the real world. A world with which I have been keeping in touch largely through remote means.

 I need to get back to food shopping which has been a task taken on by a lovely friend and neighbour.  I need to get back to driving my car. I need to get back to being out and about, living my life. I find my use of the word ‘need ’in those statements interesting – I didn’t say I want to do these things. My bubble has apparently kept me comfortable in my lockdown.  Do I need to now abandon it? I have been comfortable in my apparent confinement as I already spent considerable chunks of time alone, though I could always go out and about if I chose to.  I don’t long for a holiday – I can’t remember when I last had one. I don’t yearn for a newer car.  I am fortunate that I am content with my lot and am not chomping at the bit to get out to the shops. In fact, I am rather dreading going into a supermarket for my first visit of many weeks. I am sure that I will be concerned about the new regulations - a feeling akin to my first shopping expedition when I returned from Cyprus to live in UK nearly 50 years ago. The UK had converted to decimal currency the previous year, so most people were used to the new system. I had to scrutinise the coins when it came to payment, and I got strange looks from those around me.  I felt that I was being judged for my uncertainty  - a judgement made on a lack of knowledge. They didn’t know my circumstances or the paddling going on under the water caused by my advanced pregnancy, returning to a new area, and doing so alone. In fact, they were probably simply thinking of what the rest of their day held for them, what they were going to cook etc etc.

It would be wonderful if the kindness that people have shown over the past weeks was to continue and allowances are made. People not judging others, so that I don’t feel a need to give an explanation for my uncertainty? Then again, am I using the possibility of feeling embarrassed by doing the wrong thing as an excuse to not even try? 

MOVING FORWARD – WITH OR WITHOUT A BUBBLE?

The friend I mentioned earlier went on to add that she keeps on thinking that as considered a vulnerable person she will have to spend the rest of her life in her bubble, whilst wondering if everyone else is ‘getting on with their lives’. A concern, I feel, for many older and currently sheltered people.

The gradual easing of our lockdown is being viewed by some with happiness, whilst for others there is a lot of apprehension and possibly that continued need for taking a bubble with us on our journey away from our home base. Some will be running out, feeling no need for a bubble, maybe not even a face mask. Others, myself included, feel a great need to make haste slowly, with my first aid kit including a mask, rubber gloves ... and ready access to my bubble

We have all experienced our lockdown in very individual ways and our gradual easing will also be down to individual choice, though hopefully with the welfare of others included in the decision making process. A bit like a baby taking its first tentative steps out into the world, I imagine that many of us will seek reassurance from others.  Just as I did when I found that my bubble was holding me back. I had become unable to go past the end of my drive for a walk. I was afraid – not of the virus as such, rather of my ability to leave the safe haven of my home and re-enter just a small part of the world beyond the end of my drive.  With the help of friends doing socially distanced walks with me, I was able to take those steps and break that negative mind-set.  I was then able to take those steps alone.  A step back to normal, or forward to my new normal. A normal in which I am. and will continue to be, able to walk freely through my gate, not giving it a second thought. It is simply a point in space, not a barrier.   

It’s each to their own, moving at a pace that is right for us. Being simply OK with this – that’s fine. Having times when it’s not OK, that too is fine. It’s life – especially life in this rather cockamamie world of ours. Telling the world ‘I’m fine’ – and hopefully giving ourselves the same message – whilst  meaning it and believing it.

WHAT OF CHILDREN & BUBBLES?

OK, they enjoy playing with bubbles and watching the colours change as they float through the air. But, what of those metaphorical bubbles of protection? They worry me. Having worked with many children, including those in Early Years, I have seen evidence of the theory of the importance of human contact with adults, but also with friends – a vital element in learning to play and share with others and to then be able to hone and develop such skills as they move through life.

Most of our children have spent the past weeks tucked away in a family bubble. How I fear for those whose situation has been one of emotional, physical abuse – received or observed. How these children must long to break free from their bubble, and for how long they will carry the scars with them and be adversely affected by them in all aspects of their lives?

There have also been those whose parents were unable to work from home, so they continued to go to school, a school with a somewhat changed format. A bubble of a different kind I guess. When other children return to school, be this next month or at some later date, these children will have to adapt to others being a part of this larger bubble whilst maintaining social distancing. Children who will be delighted to see friends they have missed, though with possible friction caused by the ‘new’ mix. Hopefully with teacher and peer support, a friction that is short-lived.

What of those Early Years littlies? They will hopefully have been having lots of attention, hugs and support at home. The requirements for a healthy attachment  to parents, as well as positive social and emotional development. Then to move them to a setting that they used to know, but one which will have changed. Tables will have been spread out, some of the play things will no doubt have had to be removed. Their previously familiar objects which served as a kind of security blanket.  Maybe a bubble would serve to keep them separated! Such a sad thought. Seeing pictures on television of little ones each in a taped off square in a playground gave me great concern. They are a magnet for each other, yet will now be required to go against this need for closeness – with their friends and also their teachers. I am concerned about how this will affect them both in the short term, and the long term.

I recall a secondary teacher many years ago  assuring me that teachers of Early Years children were merely wipers of noses and bottoms, not ‘proper’ teachers. Needless to say I shot him down in flames. These highly skilled teachers and assistants will, I am sure, have all of their skills and patience called upon in support of their charges and their social, emotional and educational development.

Take care as you step out – at a speed that is right for you and safe for you. If you are struggling with the concept of getting back out, do get in touch – I am still offering counselling though currently only by phone or Skype. 

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