Song 07 - One Thread. Click to explore themes and stories relating to this song.

What was it like to be just barely hanging on in 2020?

Stories and Remembrances


If it wasn’t obvious to us before, our story collection has made it clear that, for a lot of people, 2020 was a hard year.

It was a year which left many people feeling like they were just barely hanging on.

Like they were living on a razor’s edge. (click to continue reading)

It was honestly kind of tough to read about and absorb the energy of people’s struggles this last year. And, also … we feel honored to be witness to their experience; and we feel grateful to know that we haven’t been alone in the ways we’ve struggled, too. Stories are powerful like that. 

People shared with us about …
… how they felt their emotions being much closer to the surface than they were used to.
… how small things that didn’t go quite right could result in an unexpected flood of tears.
… how their close relationships often suffered from depleted tanks of resilience.
… how small stresses felt bigger. 

People told us … 
… about how the isolation of social distancing really got to them.
… about how they craved hugs. 
… about how they desperately missed time with friends and family. 

For people who live with anxiety, or PTSD, or myriad other psychological and emotional challenges, the drumbeat of stimuli from the stresses of the year were compounding factors in the maintenance of their mental health. Rather than trying to thrive in this time, for many it became enough just to survive.

2020 seemed to be especially difficult for empathetic people, too, who — on top of taking care of their own emotional wellbeing — had to figure out strategies to manage the worry they felt for others and for the world itself. 

And we heard from several people who celebrated the fact that they stayed sober in 2020, leaning extra hard on recovery tools, like acknowledging what was in their power to change and what was not. And, most of all … by taking this extraordinarily hard year just one day at a time. 

So … here’s to all of you who made it through, who are making it through, one day at a time, hanging on for dear life. 

We’re so glad you kept yourselves tethered. 

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I just pulled one string
It was hanging loose
But when I pulled the whole thing unraveled in my hands
And it’s a stupid little thing
But I just stood there and cried
Over a stupid little thing
The reservoir was deep
Wind and waves thrashing for release
From the unrelenting anguish of this time
This time
I don’t know how we’re gonna survive (click to continue reading)

Hanging on by this one thread in my hands
Keeping me tethered to something
I’m out in the wind hanging on

I do realize that I’m talking to myself
It’s not like I haven’t been alone before
It’s just I didn’t know emptiness could get emptier
Like this pit in my gut
That’s craving touch, and laughter, and casual conversation
To break up the echo that’s bouncing off the walls
I’m just so tired
So tired of it all

Hanging on by this one thread in my hands
Keeping me tethered to something
I’m out in the wind hanging on
By this one thread

I’m sorry, I keep talking about myself
And I know there are bigger burdens out there
And that’s the thing: I try to carry those, too
Stuffed in my pack
Along with the powerlessness to do anything
I can’t do anything
But try to make it through the day
Do that again tomorrow
I’ll crawl across the line
I’m not gonna win any prize
But damn if I won’t survive

Hanging on by this one thread in my hands
Keeping me tethered to something
I’m out in the wind hanging on
By this one thread
In my hands
Keeping me tethered to something
I’m out in the wind hanging on
By this one thread

words and music by Shannon Curtis
published by Shannon K (ASCAP)
all rights reserved; lyrics reprinted by permission

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If you have a story to share about barely hanging on in 2020, please send it to Jamie at jamie@misfitstars.com.

  • anonymous
    This year was kind of a bear. Maybe a bear that ate some angel dust, but still a bear. The year began normally — I got an administrative temp to hire contract — and less than 6 months into it, I got laid off due to COVID19. This happened after I had moved across the… Continue reading anonymous
  • charise s.
    Type, delete, type, delete … me trying to find the words to describe what it has been like to “barely hang on” over this last year. Barely hanging on has meant letting go of people I love and things that I love. It has meant struggling to find the will to get out of bed.… Continue reading charise s.
  • robin z.
    I’ve had to leave my disoriented beloved at the ER 3 times, while he was having a stroke, knowing that he can’t advocate properly for himself and having to trust that they will call me to discuss treatment. The kicker is that each time, I had to smile and wave goodbye cheerily, even though I… Continue reading robin z.
  • jeri j.
    I am humbled and grateful every day. Last year April-Sept without a paycheck or unemployment living in a not great situation brought me to the brink. It turned out to be a good thing. I began to walk, and as I walked I would pray and meditate. I realized as I was walking how disassociated… Continue reading jeri j.
  • ellen m.
    At my age, it is horrendous to feel I lost a year of living, traveling, and seeing family and friends.
  • joseph h.
    Time and time again I’ve felt as though I’m just barely hanging on. I found myself stretched as far as I thought I could stretch, and then had to stretch more. And more. I became the primary caretaker for my immobilized partner, who had a terrible injury. A helicopter had to come find us, as… Continue reading joseph h.
  • jeanette g.
    My feeling of ‘barely hanging on’ is still ongoing. But the recent twist is having one of the kids tested for Covid after being told he was a close contact. Now I get calls from the state department of health to check if he’s okay or not. The worst is when you get a call… Continue reading jeanette g.
  • brian s.
    I’m having the feeling of just barely hanging on more often lately. I think people have forgotten how to deal with interpersonal encounters and are extremely bullying and harsh.
  • wendymae a.
    I’m so depressed being locked down with Covid19 restrictions. Our province has the highest infection rate based on population in all of Canada. I am so tired of fighting with my body and my life. It feels like things are just so easy for others and it’s never going to get better. The pandemic is… Continue reading wendymae a.
  • bree c.
    The day before Mother’s Day, 2020, I was released from inpatient psych. My journey to breakdown began on March 13, the first day of what would become 364 days of unemployment. I couldn’t stand that I was suddenly unemployed, trapped at home, and I had a burning ache in my chest. That burning ache wasn’t… Continue reading bree c.
  • jody n.
    I’ve had three deaths this past year, all young. Not covid-related entirely, but who knows with depression. They were all under 40 years old. Both my husband and I lost our jobs. We’re struggling with infertility but questioning whether it’s okay to have a child during these times. Luckily , my family is amazing, and… Continue reading jody n.
  • jessica k.
    Incredible year of heartbreakDisappointmentSadness resilience survival and perseveranceCovidPandemic hitsI work in medicineOn the front lineSon and husband at homeHusband with Cancer recurrence in March 2020StartedChemoCancelled bar mitzvahPivot to zoomitzvah – April Excellent Response to treatment PerseveranceStrong new Recurrence in winter More ChemoImmune therapyHospiceLoss of my beloved 2 weeks agoMy son and I are hereAliveHeartbroken Remembering our… Continue reading jessica k.
  • jodi c.
    I have had several very difficult, even traumatic, events during the pandemic. I have had to pull myself together and stop myself from falling off a cliff more than once. To put it in context: I live in Canada and all of my family lives in Vermont. Our healthcare system is different and I became,… Continue reading jodi c.
  • anonymous
    It’s been 4 1/2 months since I learned about one of the most devastating and heart wrenching events in my life.  The physical encounter. The day my husband of almost 4 years decided to hop on a train, cross state lines, and visit the woman, a colleague he had been carrying on an emotional affair… Continue reading anonymous
  • helen a.
    I could sit here and talk about how bad things have been but I think I’m just going to say this: it’s good to be able to talk about this, but I am grateful to be alive and to be able to wake up every morning. Yes it’s been difficult; but my heart and soul… Continue reading helen a.
  • michelle d.
    Suffering from depression, PTSD, panic attacks, major anxiety — oh, and Lupus and Fibromyalgia — on a normal basis is a lot to handle. Then came 2020. Stress is a major factor that affects Lupus — needless to say it’s been hell. I had my brain swabbed 7 times. 14-day quarantine with each of those… Continue reading michelle d.
  • nancy n.
    When the news broke that we were in a pandemic, the ground beneath me slipped away and the no-man’s-land of “what ifs” clogged my mind. My music drifted away and survival kicked in. What do I do? Which way do I go? Where are my parents to make me feel okay, like kissing a bloody… Continue reading nancy n.
  • john d.
    So many moments of barely hanging on. So much loss and sadness and change. But it’s all culminated in all the good stuff that is happening right now. I call it the “Learning Humility Through Heartbreak” chapter in my life.
  • anonymous
    Barely hanging on. Yes. But for me, it’s like I have told a million of our patients: it’s often after a crisis that another wave of trauma is experienced. Or like those people who lift cars up to save someone — they do what has to be done — but then are in the hospital… Continue reading anonymous
  • jaclyn p.
    I’ve been barely hanging on financially for sure. Raising two kids alone during a pandemic and attempting to work from home and do school … I ended up filing for bankruptcy and that’s really hurt us financially. 💔 
  • amy f.
    Emotionally, financially, spiritually … all three. Hit a fucking wall & hanging by a thread. Not threadbare but … hanging holding….
  • jan s.
    The loneliness is REALLY getting to me.
  • amy s.
    I’ve been clean for 20 years. I really wanted to fall off the wagon a few times but I dug deep within and kept my sobriety. This last year has been a true test for sure! 
  • pearl r.
    I’m hanging on by a thread at this very moment. Not having a good day and having too many of those too often. So many changes happening. Change is good and there is much joy in my upcoming changes. My son’s wedding is on the top of the list. I feel the last four years… Continue reading pearl r.
  • linda e.
    My writing is almost nonexistent. Waves of grey days. Fortunately my husband and our faithful poodle bring lots of comfort. I feel as if we’re all living in caves.
  • robin b.
    It’s been a hard year. Thank goodness for mother nature and writing songs. And the day job (never thought I’d say that lol). And some days it’s still a roller coaster — but I force myself to keep it together because I am not sure how far I might fall if I let go.
  • terri g.
    Spiritually this time has been a challenge — but also a lesson that my creator is with me however and wherever I am at. And I have learned to connect in new ways with people. But the moments that led to those lessons were lonely and dark.
  • rebecca m.
    I know everyone is going through something during the pandemic, emotional, financial, spiritual and/or physical. For me it’s emotional and physical. There are so many things going on with me physically. Aging changes, strains and pains and a chipped front tooth I’ve had for a while. I can’t move like I used to. I’m working… Continue reading rebecca m.
  • apryl h.
    Starting on 1/1/2020 — attracting the wrong women that loved my success in life (job,career,house, car, bank account) not my heart-soul-light. Divorce final. Sold my house. Pandemic. Held on to the California dream as long as I could. Phone call. Granny fell. Broke her hip. She needs you here. “I am on my way Mamaw… Continue reading apryl h.
  • amy a.
    If not for fear of catching COVID there, I would have put myself in the psych hospital.
  • kristyn b.
    I’m experiencing imposter syndrome hard core, as I feel I’m not doing my best teaching while grieving and dealing with everything else.
  • lezlie s.
    It’s been a year of intense growth and regression … still working on at least balancing the scale.