Frustration…Six Months on, What’s Going on…With Our Hippie Lives
August 27, 2020
Sometimes, recently, I have felt quite strong and powerful…I think I have used this time well, I have not sat around watching TV.
I have also recognised some other positives in this Covid-19 situation. The cleaner environment, animals reclaiming the streets, people being kind and helping each other, families getting closer and many of us have built new relationships with our neighbours, I know I certainly have.
I have also used the time to grow, meditating a lot, I have got a lot more spiritual and a lot more creative (baking bread, cooking, creating art, writing and building a new online business) and I have certainly become more patient and calm.
But there is always this lump in my stomach, this ache in my soul; I’m not happy, my emotions are close to the surface. In fact I think I’m unconsciously quite depressed.
No more shaking hands.
Don’t touch your face.
Never stand too close
In a crowded place.
But what is the truth of it? We are all a little bit more free now; some bits of lockdown have been eased. How are we really feeling?
On the news they say the Oxford vaccine will be ready by November, then it has to be approved and then manufactured; so in my eyes that looks like February or March 2021…an end in sight?
How do I REALLY feel?
I feel a deep burning FRUSTRATION!
I’m a free spirit and I need letting out of my cage.
God will paint rainbows in the sky
Once again for the world and I.
Signs that will tell us all is well,
Freedom from this grim living hell.
I have been doing a lot of financial juggling myself because I have not worked since my bike accident in November 2019. When I finally recovered from that terrible episode we had lockdown. I’m still looking for work but I have several interviews lined up now, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
On top of that income, my books will be coming out soon (more income) and my online hippie clothing business will be opening for business too (yet more income; I hope). So, I think I am beginning to cross over that difficult financial barrier that I have been facing.
As a consequence, next year a lot of positive stuff will be happening but only if the vaccine is a success and countries start opening up again; especially my beloved India.
And I know many of you hippies are struggling with work and finances too. And not only that but also that frustration at not being able to go clubbing, socialising with all your friends or worst still, not being able to go back to Goa this season.
I believe we are capable of weathering this storm, we are stronger than we think, we will survive and get through this and we will be back partying on the beaches of Goa once again at the end of next year!
So, where are we REALLY right now?
If you remember I wrote about my feelings around lockdown at the beginning of this pandemic and what follows is how I am feeling now:
It is nearly September 2020 and we are living in a world of risky holidays to Spain with Facemask tans and two week quarantine afterwards. Illegal forest parties and working from home. Unemployment and depression, recession and debt and university students doing their classes online.
We have no chance of travelling to places like India because the pandemic is so bad there and we are even taking a chance with a staycation because the area in the UK we might travel to could easily go back into lockdown while we are there.
I don’t want to bring you down with all this. I never thought we would be in this situation after six months but here we are. But I do believe in HOPE and I strongly believe 2021 will be a much better year.
Lets start with some observations I have made; beginning with: FRIENDSHIPS
One of my group of friends no longer has anything to do with me. I was making an argument about something on our WhatsApp group which he did not agree with. But instead of doing what good friends normally do, which is to say “I didn’t like what you were saying” and then debating it to clear the air; he began a vicious attack on my character and broke off all contact with me and another friend of mine. We have not heard from him since.
Would he have reacted like that if this pandemic lockdown wasn’t happening? I wonder? This strange period in our lives has effected us all in strange ways and put strains on our friendship groups.
At one time or another during this pandemic I have fallen out in some way with many of my friends. I have also had arguments and aggressive outbursts on Facebook. I am becoming frustrated and intolerant and I hate being like that, its not me.
I think many of us may have experienced this but if our friendships are strong enough then we can understand these behaviours and move through them.
I was gratified to see on the BBC news the other day a report on this subject; how Covid-19 is putting a strain on peoples friendships.
Bellow is another article about this very subject:
How lockdown has led to friendship break-ups as the old ties that bind fall away
‘Quarantine has forced us (hopefully) to take a look at what’s important in our lives. We were forced to get very honest about what is and what isn’t working,’ said one psychologist
The rise of friendship breakups due to the pandemic
The virus has forced us to acknowledge its presence at every turn. Nearly every aspect of our lives has become disrupted by it – health, livelihood, relationships, everything.
It’s well documented that romantic partnerships have been make or break in this time – the rise of turbo-charged couples moving in after a week of dating as one example – but that can also be said of friendships.
People who weathered all manner of life changes and collated years of memories are now coming to terms with the fact they have experienced a friendship breakup catalysed by the pandemic. While there’s very little material on how to move forward from a relationship breakdown during a global public health crisis, there’s even less when this is a best friend.
Disagreement over distancing
For many, the pandemic has irreparably changed a friendship.
Andrei Lucas faced this early on in the pandemic, when he fundamentally disagreed with his friend’s approach to social distancing. He had met his friend through social media, running in similar social circles, so he felt confident they were similar people until this.
“When the UK government announced the lockdown, one texted me saying he was organising a pre-lockdown party at his place – dinner, drinks and music with several people,” he said. “I told him that London is locking down because of high cases already being registered and it wasn’t a good idea.”
This didn’t go down very well triggering what he describes as a passive aggressive argument before all contact fell away altogether. The friend eventually blocked him, ensuring a resolution was unlikely to happen any time soon.
The experience was very painful.
“At that time I have to admit I was really upset, disappointed with myself, disappointed with them – I questioned myself a lot,” the 27 year-old explained.
His friend’s reaction was shocking, he said. “To me it seems that people’s mindset and personality has also been affected by the pandemic and maybe denying risk gives some people a feeling of control over their lives.”
‘Needs aren’t heard’
Many who shared their experiences of a friendship breakdown reported the same feeling of surprise; of being caught off-guard by their friend’s behaviour over the pandemic, as if it were uncharacteristic of the person they knew beforehand.
Letty Yeung felt this with a best friend she had known most of her life from secondary school. “We used to get the bus together and her family made me part of their family, writing me bday cards every year,” the 25 year-old said.
This friend had been furloughed over lockdown and living by herself, in what must have been a very difficult and lonely time. She also lived in a separate city to where Ms Yeung and another of their mutual friends were based. She made attempts to visit them both, but this became a source of conflict.
Ms Yeung and their other friend were both key workers who worked weekends – it was very difficult to accommodate someone. Even if they had the time, Ms Yeung felt uneasy about doing so as she is immunocompromised. Even now she feels nervous about her safety.
Adherence to the lockdown has proved a test of friendship for many.
The friend “was frustrated that we couldn’t meet up and I personally felt as if they tried to belittle my health concerns,” she explained. While there was no dramatic argument or moment of fallout, her opinion of the friendship has changed as a result.
“I think without pandemic, would’ve met up so this would not have happened,” she said.
But it did and things have shifted. Things, at least for the time being, aren’t the same.
“I feel as if my needs aren’t heard or accounted for.”
While there are two sides to every story, so an account of someone behaving differently is subjective, there is some truth in the pandemic pushing people to act differently.
Erratic behaviour is not unsurprising at the moment, Simon Shattock said. A systemic, family and couple psychotherapist at Clinical Partners, he explained that “when people feel under threat in a pandemic they will focus on their immediate family first and they could also become anxious and act irrationally”.
“They might have unrealistic expectations of what they expect from their friends in such contexts. If friends do not respond in the expected way this can lead to resentments building up.”
With a lack of face-to-face contact brought on by lockdown and safety concerns, this can fester and become increasingly worse.
Like Ms Yeung, the pandemic led to Eve realising her friend did not provide the support she needed, but this had been present beforehand – the situation simply exacerbated the issue until it was blindingly obvious.
Her mental health had significantly deteriorated over lockdown; a few months on she comfortably says she experienced depression and anxiety at the time.
The 26-year-old had met her friend when they were 10. “She moved from Ireland in our last year of primary school and was the first non-white child to attend the school, so naturally she was a magnet for bullying,” she said. “When I saw that she was being bullied by the same girl who’d bullied me, I decided to make her my friend.”
They stayed this way for 16 years, visiting each other at universities, and eventually living in the same city.
Despite this, the friendship wasn’t what it once was. Eve felt her friend’s negative assumption of everyone and their motivations, along with a propensity to dismiss experiences she hadn’t gone through herself were big issues.
“She’s my oldest friend, but it’s been a while since she’s been my best friend,” she said. “If I met her today I don’t think we’d get on very well.”
Unsurprisingly this came to a head due to the pandemic, when she asked to meet up.
“With my dad being high risk I wasn’t comfortable going out and bringing the virus home to him,” Eve said. “She blew me off with a snide remark in our group chat and continued to address those who ‘weren’t making excuses’.”
As things began to ease, she moved back to her home in Manchester and no longer had the responsibility of her dad’s wellbeing.
She agreed to meet a different friend socially distanced. Hearing this, her friend became incensed and called Eve a hypocrite.
“The circumstances were entirely different but as usual she was viewing everything only from her perspective, and defaulting to attack instead of at least trying to understand.”
The situation was the “last straw” she said. There was no argument or confrontation, but Eve decided that was the end of their friendship.
“In the past year I’ve prioritised my mental health properly for the first time. I’ve broken some very old habits and worked like hell to form better ones,” she said.
As part of that, she realised that what she needed and deserved were friends that are empathetic and “self-aware enough to take responsibility for their own issues, to listen to the experiences of others and to want to constantly be better, too”.
Her friend did not do this, and hadn’t been for a long time. For her own wellbeing she decided to let go of her.
Like romantic breakups
“I didn’t feel sad about it, I felt relieved. The same relief I felt when I split up with my ex that told me it was the right thing to do.”
Eve isn’t the only one to compare her friendship breakdown to that of a romantic relationship. In recent years popular culture is acknowledging the overlap between friendship deteriorations and romantic partners. The emotional toll is now seen by most people to sometimes be the same and in some cases worse as friendships can often span longer.
For Tom*, the breakdown of his friendship over the pandemic was, and still is, really hurtful. His friend pulled away over lockdown, and he is still unsure of why.
The friend as already beginning to drift away before the pandemic, but used the situation to implement a clean break, he said. They stopped meeting up and eventually initiated a great deal of distance that wasn’t there beforehand.
“I felt pretty devastated, and honestly it almost paralleled breakup levels of anger, sadness and denial. I am probably still reeling from it a little.”
“It doesn’t really surprise me” that friendships have broken down over the pandemic, said Dr Tony Ortega. A psychologist and expert in mental health for 28 years, he has seen numerous examples of relationships thrive and crumble during this time.
“Quarantine has forced us (hopefully) to take a look at what’s important in our lives. We were forced to get very honest about what is and what isn’t working. We have been forced to make adjustments and changes.
“Therefore, friendships will come out looking differently,” he explained.
In his opinion, while the pandemic may have created conflict a non-quarantine situation did not see, there were likely underlying issues to start with that contributed to the breakup.
It might sound blunt, but the pandemic has forced people to weigh up the people in their lives for better and worse. “I think the pandemic has changed our priorities and made us reconsider what matters most. It’s been a time to reflect, think more about how we want to spend our time and who with,” said George, who parted ways with a friend over lockdown.
For him, the decision was more mutual, highlighting how this has been a time for conflict for many but also real honesty in relationships.
This is a time for change, for re-evaluation over what is the most important to us. With so much uncertainty in every aspect of our lives, it is natural that we want to control what we can.
“We’re doing everything in our power to make sure our days have as little negativity as possible right now,” said Eve.
The ends of relationships are distressing events in our lives, there’s no way to avoid this even if the decision is mutual, but they signal a necessary change. Even if we think they wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic, the reality is there was no alternative reality to have avoided this either.
This has been a test in many ways, and while some relationships’ fragility have come to the fore, the strength of others has only been reaffirmed.
I think as long as we can get to a point where we recognise that this is going on, that our friends behaviour (and our own) is being effected by these strange and frustrating times, then we can find the strength to stay as close to our friends as we were before the pandemic.
Now I want to talk about the next subject and one which was mentioned in the friendship article. And that is peoples different views on what’s ok and what is not during this pandemic lockdown. (Hence the picture of the forest party above).
The person I am about to talk about will know who she is but this is not a criticism, in fact far from it; simply an exploration into changing mindsets as this pandemic stretches on.
One of my closest friends has been at a sort of parallel journey to my own during this lockdown. Initially I was not concerned about this pandemic, I was sure that I would still be going to Goa in January 2021 and possibly even Whirly-Fayre in August 2020.
I arranged a party at mine just before full lockdown but this particular friend said she felt unsafe leaving her home and did not want to risk her health (or her job) by being around others. Things quickly progressed and we soon went into full lockdown and my party was cancelled.
My friend pretty much had this nervous, unsure mindset for a couple of months. I then got to a point that I recognised that Whirly-Fayre would be cancelled and this seasons Goa trip would not be possible.
The strange thing is my friend started shifting her mindset, she was obviously starting to get cabin fever and missed her clubbing.
She was convinced that Goa Cream festival as well as other festivals had a good chance of going ahead; I didn’t think there was a chance in hell. She built herself up and got excited, only to be disappointed when these events were cancelled.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this but its interesting how I got more conservative and realistic while my friend started dreaming of going to festivals and to Goa in the new year.
I knew Goa was probably a no go because cases were so bad there but my friend was pretty confident we would be going. The terrible situation in India now means that is probably not going to be the case.
I was initially in denial over coronavirus and my friend was being the realistic one; then I became the realistic one and she was showing signs of being in denial; its amazing the emotional and mental roller-coaster we have all been on.
A perfect case of this are these new unofficial forest parties that are popping up in London. My friend was very up for attending these and spoke excitedly about attending her first rave in a good while (quite a change from that initial nervous person at the beginning of lockdown).
I seemed to have turned into my mother because initially I was very against this (although I didn’t share this with my friend at the time).
I felt that going to illegal trance party gatherings would put people in danger, spread the virus to others (so immoral) and the police could raid the party and fine everyone and you would get a criminal record.
Well hark at me, Mr proper, sensible, who the hell am I? (Weird lockdown behaviour once again).
When I saw the pictures and videos of the forest party the next day, it looked incredible and a lot of my old Whirl-y-Gig friends were there; I felt deeply jealous.
I am not working so I can not afford these events until I get a job but I’ve now changed my mindset again. My new outlook has changed to wanting to go to some of these events because I miss clubbing but there is still a part of me that feels a little bit of disapproval about this (disapproval at my self for wanting to go).
Lockdown is truly making me confused.
So, once again I ask myself the question: where am I now with all this?
I think people are free to make their own mind up (and take their own risk) if they want to go raving in a forest that’s their choice.
I am still happy to hug my close mates and have them over for a party; that is my (and their) risk and if I catch the virus, well, then that’s meant to be (although I’m pretty sure I already had it in March).
I am a free spirit and I’m at a point where I need to move forward and get on with my life and others are free to make their own choices too.
For my own sanity I need things to go back to the way they were; I need to move forward now regardless of any risk, so I’m behaving as though things are normal.
Its time to stop living Covid-19 and start living life again!!
My book; Hippie Kushi Waking up to Life book one should be out early next year and the second book will follow shortly afterwards. There are things happening for me to get excited about
My online hippie clothing and accessories company, Hippie Utsaah will be opening for business around January 2021, which I am running with my business partner David; so that’s awesome too.
But what about my plans for Goa. I love Goa, its my happy place, my dream. Poor India is in a bad shape over coronavirus. Millions of infections and thousands dead; it makes me so sad.
On the tiny chance that Goa did start allowing tourist visas in February or March next year (2021), I would still hesitate to go. Many bars would not be open, workers from the North of India and Nepal would not be able to make their way down to Goa to take up the jobs of bar staff and waiters. Everyone would be wearing masks and there is talk of locals being wary and abusive to foreigners because they think they are the ones who have brought coronavirus.
Goa would not be the same because the country needs time to rebuild and repair itself.
Based on this need for India to repair itself and my strong belief that a vaccine will be available by spring next year (probably the Oxford vaccine), I think November next year onwards is a more realistic prospect.
My plan is to go in December 2021 when things should really start returning to normal in Goa; this is something I am really looking forward too.
I think the thought of not going to Goa has been the most crushing thing as far as my mental health goes.
This hope and need to be back on the beaches in December next year is what will get me through this crisis.
I cannot wait until the day I am dancing with the freaks at Hilltop once again.
I strongly believe that from Spring 2021 we will be able to go clubbing again, we can go to festivals again, we can go to Whir-y-Gig and Whirly-Fayre again. I believe Goa will welcome us back with open arms and time will heal all wounds.
We will hug and kiss again, we will have parties and travel the world; we will be hippie kushi once more!!
Its these thoughts and this forward directional thinking that will get me through these horrible times. And I hope it allows you to get through them too.
Six months on…what’s going on? How do I feel at this point in the game?
Optimistic, excited and looking forward…
…but frustrated its not happening quicker.
I have just got to hang in there…
…and so have you.
Think positive, get on with your life and move forward.