Emotional recovery will not be smooth.

Four years ago I wrote two uncharacteristic posts on grief. Now we have cause for relief and hope, so I want to talk a little about recovery. For four years, at the best, we’ve been fearful and tensed against destructive or disastrous news. Some of us lived through the destruction and disaster more closely than I did; hundreds of thousands of people did not live through it. Ecosystems and animals suffered greatly. Now that one energetic and cruel cause of destruction has been ousted, recovery can start. I want to warn that it will not be smooth.

I have two predictions. First, as your body stops bracing against the immediate threat, you will likely collapse or get sick. Second, that you will continue to feel better in jumps for a long time, and that each time, you will marvel at how bad you felt before.

Now that it is safe(r), you may collapse.

For four years, you have been braced against malignance to you and those you love. The cost of this vigilance and struggle will come due. As your body starts to relax, you may overshoot and collapse. Your immune system may let in illness (hopefully not COVID). If that happens, surrender and rest. Your body needs it. It is similar to getting sick after finals or when you get back from traveling.

Feeling better happens in surprising jumps.

My experience was that I consistently thought I was better, then had a sudden noticeable jump in well-being (more relaxed or more energetic or more capable of interest), then realized in retrospect how weak and fatigued I had been before. This happened sporadically for two or three years and each time I revised downward how bad I must have been at the depth. The climb out of the collective trauma of these last years could also take months or years.

Just like I did for grief, I suggest rest and patience with yourself. You do not need to feel relief or better yet. Don’t be surprised if you feel even worse for a short spell. Still, a terrible stressor has been removed from our lives. I think you will intermittently notice yourself feeling better. Let’s have a lovely spring, and keep the pressure on the Biden administration to do right.


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16 responses to “Emotional recovery will not be smooth.

  1. Kimery wiltshire

    Thank you so much. Spot on and so appreciated.

  2. I think I can try to undo my attachment to alcohol now.

  3. Phil Isenberg

    Vlad: You are dangerously close to sounding optimistic. Is this a permanent change? Phil

    • onthepublicrecord

      I would prefer to feel less fatalistic than I have. Expecting the worst has been a good rule of thumb these recent years, but it’d feel better to be a less cynical than I’ve become.

    • Anonymous

      “Words to live by, Cratchet”

  4. Jim Kelly

    Thanks for your insightful comments. I was surprised that I was teared up for extended periods. But two Fellow Okies will do that to me. If you have time check out Obama’s second ceremony version of this land is your land please do. It is a joyful anthem! And amazing grace is a sure fire hook. It was sung at both my parents funerals….and then there was Obama’s singing of it.

    Anyway, I hope and pray your guidance will help us heal.

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Pat Randall

    My hope is I have less reason to cry each time I see one of our real leaders (Obama, and Michelle) and others. It seemed so hopeless that all I could do is cry. Now they and the new admin can bring me hope and joy. Hope and joy to all.

  6. Linda Wright

    Thank you for this; it is so very true. We, and our nation’s values, have been under ferocious siege for so long now while the existential threat of climate change rages out of control, even the minimal efforts to confront it assaulted and weakened by the (just) past administration. As severely divided as we are, I just hope & pray it’s not too late to mitigate the worst effects of global warming/weirding…I truly fear for my kids’ and grandson’s (and every one else, every living thing’s) future. But for now – breathe, ground & center!

  7. Noel Park

    What a pleasure to see you here again. Please don’t be a stranger. The water wars continue apace.

  8. Noel Park

    Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of Restore The Delta posted a really cogent comment today. With millions of people in the state unable to pay their water bills and utilities facing insolvency as a result, how are the ratepayers supposed to pay billions of dollars for the “conveyance “?

  9. John Bass

    I missed most of the inauguration, but watched Demi Lovato sing Lovely Day. A glass half full mind (easier to at least indulge in now) might think about what creatively can be done with the isolation the pandemic has foisted upon us. I watched a performance that was less about a star like Lovato than it was about all of the other voices and faces who were part of it. Watching, holding my three-old-daughter, remembering the great beauty and hope of diversity in America. I sobbed. Such a relief to hope that this can be American myth that prevails.

  10. Anonymous

    Ok, the pragmatic side of me has to say, everyone made it through the four years of a poor administration. The delta is still there, and I’d honestly say it’s not much different. I’ve been on the ground there a lot. Smelt decline, that’s what we’ve been seeing for a lot longer than 4 years. The system of checks and balances worked, nothing crazy happened at least here in our water world.

    • Noel Park

      I dunno, Sites and the “conveyance “ seem to be creeping forward. Hopefully Shasta raising and Temperance Flat are dead, but I wouldn’t assume anything. The Maven published an interesting article this week about the groundwater management act “plans”. They rely heavily on recharge with surface water that likely does not exist, at least reliably. They rely on recharge basins that do not exist and nobody knows where they will be or where the money to build them will come from. Fallowing of land, which OTPR has long held to be inevitable, not so much.

      “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance “

    • Anonymous

      Sites is never going to go anywhere. I just can’t believe the money wasted there already, they’ll probably be some more, but I doubt much is headed that way in the future. If it wasn’t the pet project of a particular congressman it would be dead by now anyway.
      I don’t know what to think about conveyance, but it’s the state driving it. Not the feds, so we need to look closer to home there. I’d say Temperance Flat is dead. Raising Shasta is too, although for the cost/benefit it was by far the only one that made sense.
      I haven’t had time to read Maven’s latest, I’ll head over there. I will say I drove through the central/south SJV this fall for the first time in years. There’s already a lot of land retired there, I was stunned.

    • Noel Park

      As to Sites, from your lip to God’s ear.

      And how about the dumb Pacheco Creek dam? It found new life when Jerry Brown slid $400 million plus from the “water bond” to Santa Clara Water in exchange for their vote to support the “conveyance “. Now they have done some soil borings in the foundation area, and the price suddenly jumped from $1.3 billion to $2.3 billion. Duh!

      I haven’t driven I-5 recently. The last time I was amazed by all of the new orchard trees. I hope that you are right.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know, I guess I think that tweaking existing reservoirs is better than new ones. The problem with Pacheco is it’s too big of a tweak. That’s why it got so damn expensive.
      The I-5 corridor seems green, it’s when you get off to the East it’s changed. Huron, 5 points, Cantua, Mendota is where I was. Lots of idle land and new solar farms (yay!).