It’s surprising how many clients have expressed guilt for coming to therapy because they shouldn’t…
Stories help. Ours isn’t tragic, nor remarkable, nor is it resolved. But just like your story, and your neighbor’s, and your dad’s, ours is unique to us. I share our story to help find meaning within this crisis; I would love to hear your stories, too.
We decided to close the doors on a Sunday. No one had mandated it, but we were feeling the fear sweep across the city, and decided it was the responsible thing.
We agonized over it for hours, playing it different ways, always coming to the same decision: Close the doors.
We didn’t sleep that night, nor for some nights after. That first Monday, I cried on and off all day, unsure of what this all meant, unsure of what to say to the question-askers, to my children, to myself.
We pivoted quickly, by most standards; within two weeks we had created an online members group (with a little help from a good friend and our team). This created a bit of revenue, but we had one landlord threatening eviction if our rent wasn’t paid, in full, the first of the month.
I walked a lot, that first month. We both drank too much and stayed up too late. On impulse, I bought the kids a trampoline, which ended up being a good decision and helped entertain them. I was never the stay-at-home-with-kids type, let alone during a pandemic while simultaneously trying to keep two businesses afloat.
We were out of our depth and out of familiar territory in every way.
Our 1400 square foot house closed in around the six of us, each trying to cope and understand. Daily we struggled with getting along and balancing all of our energies in one place. We argued, hid in our rooms. We applied for government relief as it came available. We plotted a new course every other day. We created a new routine.
So many times, we wondered if we would see the doors to our clinics open again. We heard of place after place closing their doors for good, and our hearts went out to business owners losing their dreams. We held on to each other and kept going.
Then we got the news that we could re-open. Hope surged within us. Except it was far from ok yet. Many of our team were afraid, and we didn’t want to push too hard if they weren’t ready. And what of clients? Would they be ready? We had to wait on PPE, and plexiglass. We had to re-jig appointments and schedules. We had to reinvent our business plan completely.
Then, after the doors had been open for a month and things seemed brighter, we lost a bunch of staff. The Covid Shuffle, I called it. A few of our team moved on to new things entirely, a few to new places. I wish I could say that I took this in stride, but I didn’t. It hurt. More than anyone leaving before. I realized then how vulnerable we all still were, after having survived whatever the hell this was. Me included. I cried some more and pressed on.
We started to realize we had to accomplish more than just bringing clients into our space. Our team, like the rest of the world, had retreated into themselves. Where we once effortlessly mingled, shared, and collaborated, we now hesitated. We faced this problem head on and the team pulled itself slowly back to a thriving, team-centered and client-centered space. We had to hire like-minded people and re-create bonds.
Basically, we had to keep going. Persisting. With new rules in a new space that we weren’t all that well-versed in yet. Regardless, it was push on or stop altogether.
I wish that I could say things miraculously turned the corner, but they didn’t. It’s much better, more positive, and more open at work now, and it’s genuinely a great place to be again, but there is still so much uncertainty. What is going to happen in the weeks and months from now? What new obstacles will we be facing? Will another shutdown force us to close doors again, the way it has done to gyms, studios, and restaurants?
When will it end? Will it, at all?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. And we, by no means, have felt the worst of this pandemic; there have been people far worse off in every way. But everyone is fighting some battle because of this situation, and the only thing we can do is hang on to each other and keep going.
So I see you, fellow business owners, workers, parents, humans. I see you struggling and I see your light. Keep going. Don’t give up. The pieces of our stories will fit together, in the end, and make some sort of coherent sense. I have to believe that, and I fervently hope you do, too.