In mid March 2020 like many others I thought the "shelter in place" would last a couple weeks and then back to normal. When that didn't happen I decided to give up my office and work from home on video sessions with my clients. I soon saw this was going to be a long haul through this pandemic. I had planned on retiring anyway but COVID-19 just sealed that decision. I never liked video because it made it much harder to read body language, expression, eye dilation, all signs as a trauma specialist I was trained to read. I also didn't like that if a client had a strong abreaction it would be hard to not be in the room with them. So I decided to retire at the end of 2020.
I spent 2021 dieting to lose the COVID-15 lbs. I had gained during the "shelter in place" while attempting to have my home worked on and continue to get out at least three times a week for an early morning walk. The walks did wonders to be outside when it was cool and quiet with little traffic. And of course taking precautions to not catch COVID. I was a part of "the Great Resignation" much of which were many like myself that determined it was a good time to retire.
Three times in my life technology had foreshadowed big changes in my life. First in my late teens I worked for the telephone company as a long distance operator way before cell phones or PCs. I had worked for 2 years with "cord boards". Just before I quit to resume college full time I was trained on their new computerized switch boards. I was glad I was leaving, there was just something missing, the physicality of plugging cords into 100 year old wooden boards seemed somehow more romantic and physical I would miss had I stayed.
After finishing my B.A. in Art, Graphic Design and Illustration I worked in that field pre computers for 15 years until Apple Macs took over the industry and severely reduced the number of jobs especially if you didn't know how to do the jobs I did on computer. I bought a computer and learned to use it. But once again missed the physical visceral action of using pen and ink, smelly felt tip pens and electric erasers. Here again I would be sitting in front of a computer screen for the rest of my working life if I had not amid the 90s recession decided to make a career change partly because I didn't want to continue to sit in front of a computer screen.
I went to graduate school to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. I worked part time in graphic design until my second year of school when I needed to start a trainee position working for free earning hours before I could take licensing exams. It took 2 1/2 years to finish my Master's Degree. I then became a "registered intern" for another year and a half not making much pay. Grad school had been grueling, I was exhausted most of the time unable to have much of a social life, collapsing on the weekends out of exhaustion. I luckily passed the licensing exams on the first try. But with a part time job at a rape crisis center and part time private practice I was still exhausted and got my first experience of secondary traumatization. During that time I realized how much I had given up of myself for the career change and lost pieces of myself along the way. I made a list of the interests I had before and the activities I seemed to no longer do either because I was exhausted, had enough of people during the week or didn't have money to do things other than rest up over the weekend so I could work another week.
Then here I was again in 2020 sitting once again in front of a computer screen talking to clients. However of my own volition I beginning to sit in front of my computer now to write my first book, You May Think I'm Crazy But . . . I guess there's no escaping technology. After all now I find myself writing a blog . . . on a computer looking at a computer screen. I used to write things out long hand before typing them up many years ago. Then I learned to go straight to writing while typing on the computer. However now I found I needed to make one more transition to speaking to text programs so as not to wear out my now arthritic hands. I haven't quite mastered the speaking out loud my writing yet, I guess technology has one more trick to teach me.
Now the mask mandates are disappearing. We can see faces again. People are going back to work. We're less cautious. Life is getting back to normal, whatever that is. I'm not sure what to do with myself now that we have more freedom to go back to normal. What is the new normal? I guess I need to make another list of things I gave up during the COVID pandemic, like travel, movie theatres, bars, museums, and I'm sure I'll think of more.
I wonder at times how people wrote doctoral dissertations, masters' theses and books using typewriters. Just the idea of doing so makes me appreciate technology and computers. And once again I reinvent myself as a writer and author, surrendered now to sitting in front of a computer screen with full appreciation of this modern technological wonder. Although this time I am choosing to do so and not because a job or career required it of me. Oh the irony!