I Hate This Couch by Rev. Jami Yandle

It’s rounding the second year of living with COVID as a healthcare chaplain, and I’ve been on the front lines nearly the entire time. I’ve sat with so many people as they died, partly because that’s my job and partly because I wanted to be present when COVID prevented their loved ones from being with them. I’ve seen a lot of gruesome moments, and I have had to endure many injustices fighting a capitalist, racist, and unjust healthcare system in the process.

Sometime in the first six months of the Pandemic, the stress and trauma of healthcare chased me home, and I began sleeping on this old orange couch. The couch is ugly, uncomfortable, and about a decade old. It made sense in my 1950’s themed living room five living spaces ago, but the other pieces in that room have long since been deconstructed over the course of several moves. The couch stayed because it was easier to keep moving it than find the time to purchase a new one. I had tried everything to get comfortable in my bedroom during that time, but despite having a comfortable mattress, the best pillows, and a sleek black everything bedding set, I would toss and turn and inevitably get up to read or doze off while watching a horror flick. It happened with such frequency that I eventually just began to sleep out in the living room on this orange couch and skipped even trying to sleep in my bed most days of the week.

This orange couch held me in my tears, my anxiety, my grief, my rage, and my mounting C-PTSD. As cooking turned into microwave meals and my place got messier by the day, I was in a dangerous cycle of not sleeping and feeling stress over not sleeping. I didn’t want to write about it or take a walk…some days, a lot of days, I just did…nothing. I just laid on this orange couch.

Fast forward to now, and I hate this couch. Although it was a soft place to land during my pandemic days and made yet another cross-country move with me five months ago, I made the conscious decision to get off the couch. I began working at my desk after hospice. I watched tv on my laptop, skipping the living room entirely. I began to get out and hike again. I saw humans unrelated to my hospice job. And now, this couch is a serious eyesore and I’m ready to be done with it.

I don’t need this couch anymore because I now hold myself, and when I can’t, I have enough self awareness and knowledge to know who and where to turn to in my times of need. I leaned hard into my faith. I leaned into my community. I held on, and now I feel held.

This is not a “rah rah tomorrow is a new day, rise and grind” post. Rather, it’s more subtle and gentle than that. There is no call to action other than to name for those of you who, like me, have a depression cave, object, blanket, notebook, etc. that is no longer serving you, now or some point in the future might be a good time to do a little goodbye ritual and let it go. You don’t need to keep things that remind you of harder days to notice how blessed you are now. In the long run, it won’t serve you; trust me on that. Just get rid of it. You don’t need to do anything after that, not even buy a new couch. I’m seriously contemplating pillows on the floor.

About the Author

Jami Yandle

The Rev. Jami Yandle (they/them) is a non-binary UU minister, graduate of Union Theological Seminary, and is a Board Certified Chaplain. Currently, Rev. Yandle serves the UUA as the Transgender Support Specialist.

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