In these times of online provision when being face to face has all but disappeared, I unexpectedly landed face to face with myself, forced to confront my experience of the coronavirus pandemic. A simple request to listen to a piece of music was the spark.
I’m used to hearing my husband, a musician, rehearse, compose and create. Whilst he experimented with the loop pedal and double bass, I was distracted by my own chores and plans for the day. When he asked me to listen to a piece of music he’d composed, I didn’t know that buried feelings were about to be shaken up, like a metaphorical snow globe.
My husband introduced the piece as ‘Pandemic’, a reflective piece on the impact of coronavirus. I sat, put on the headphones, still distracted by my own chores and plans. The piece began and what followed was an unforeseen, potent bodily response.
As the music flowed it leached through the defences that I’d subconsciously built in an attempt to protect myself from feelings I’d not wanted to feel over the past twelve months. As my body listened and heard, deeply heard, it allowed, in that moment, a release. I cried, more accurately I sobbed, as my mind travelled around moments from the past year.
Up surged my fear, my panic, my loss, my scare, my distress and my memories of my own COVID-19 diagnosis. As the music continued, specifically the repetition of a harmonic motif denoting an ambulance siren, I was aware that my feelings were echoed by shared feelings, the fear, the panic, the loss, the scare and the distress and grief that many have felt. My own experience and feelings collided together with those of everyone.
The defence walls were smashed down as I experienced being on my boat yet alongside everyone in their crafts, weathering the stormy ocean that the pandemic launched us in to almost a year ago.
Prior to this I’d been struggling to concentrate, generally feeling unsettled and uneasy. I’d ignored, distracted myself or reasoned my uneasiness to be the aftermath of having COVID-19. Yet, in that moment, the piece of music brought me sharply face to face with my uneasiness and the part of me that I’d buried. My body had been telling me that it was aware of the imminent anniversary of the first lockdown and it needed to be heard, though I’d not been listening.
I’m so incredibly grateful that in my body’s acceptance of the invitation ‘Pandemic’ offered, I was able to ‘lean in’ to the music. It allowed me to acknowledge and give space to all my feelings concerning the coronavirus pandemic. They were heard and have now been seen and soothed. Music is an incredibly powerful medium to evoke emotional response.
Our bodies are holding on to many painful, traumatic memories and feelings. Our bodies may be gently, or loudly, telling us they remember all that the last 12 months have been. We have no closure or ending in sight either.
For myself, I have gained insight. For my clients, I hope to support them to explore their own barriers and resistance and gently invite in all their authentic feelings as we all experience ‘the anniversary effect’ in these extraordinary pandemic times.
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Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.