**Trigger warning: Coronavirus, anxiety, depression, worry, despair **
I was blown away by the number of responses I got to that last post. I didn’t really want to write it or, at the least, share it. But then as I told a friend, while I wanted to keep positive because we all need that, I’m not being authentic if I can’t say I haven’t stopped crying since Friday.
I’m also not being authentic if I can’t say that we’re struggling here at home. I’m married to the love of my life, the whole second chance thing and all, felt all the blessings of light and love, but this right now has not been sunshine and roses. I don’t believe many relationships can live 24/7 without pause. We’re not unhappy with each other, but we’re unhappy with our individual circumstances beyond our control and battling our own demons and this is sometimes a stormy mix.
We spend hours apart inside the house, hours not talking to each other, hours in frustration because we can’t go out and enjoy the things we used to, and we often sit in silence beside each other at the day’s end. The latter is somewhat comforting, that we don’t need words but just… presence.
How do we talk about what’s new when what’s new is nothing more than, “I’m bored,” “I can’t stand this anymore,” “work is going to kill me,” “two people died in our county,” “should we thaw out some steaks, or just eat leftovers?”
We stopped watching the news weeks ago. Well, Todd did. I was glad, because it made him testy. I’m sick of watching the circus they call briefings and so have stopped viewing too. I stopped sometime after Chris Cuomo got sick and he was all emotional on TV. I get it – I know why he kept broadcasting. But I didn’t need to see it anymore.
We’re both a little short-tempered. I think I’m worse. He’s very good at containing his, but I’m less so when I reach the tip of the volcano. Triggers: dirty dishes in the sink. AGAIN. Crumbs on the kitchen rugs, 4 hours after I just vacuumed. AGAIN. Interruptions to my writing. AGAIN. The sound of someone chewing. The sound of the dog drinking water. A spoon scraping the last of whatever in a bowl. A cough. A sneeze. Someone who is bored.
Despite outward appearances and past lives, neither of us are “fighters.” So short-tempered looks more like “irked,” or “annoyed,” peppered with a little bickering. (It’s vastly improved since the dam has broken and I’ve cried it out for a few days.)
Here’s what I learned after that post that I want to share, to show there’s more solidarity here than some of us may realize.
The most interesting fact of all – many of us hit a wall on or around the same day, last Friday (which was day 44 for me). So humans can take this type of crisis for about six weeks before we all lose our shit?
Many have admitted to crying. A lot.
And many more admitted to feeling alone.
Some of us have partners working outside the home, who may or may not want to go but do it because they have to. Some feel that their partners who leave the house to work have no understanding of how difficult it is to be stuck at home. Especially where there are children.
Some people with children are struggling to stay sane with their kids 24/7. Some have been thrust into homeschooling which – I can tell you from experience and have all the sympathy in the world for – is a recipe for a drinking problem at the end of the day. (I wrote about my year of homeschooling in 2010-2011. You can find it in the archives.)
Some have special needs children who bring their own challenges to the stew of stay-at-home struggles. Some of those parents feel that no one fully understands how hard it is in the normal day-to-day with these kids, and it’s far worse now in isolation.
Some people aren’t working at all and are stressed about making ends meet. Some live alone and feel profound isolation.
Some are missing loved ones – adult children, grandbabies, parents – which can feel like the worst isolation of all. The worry over elderly parents in assisted living/nursing home environments is amplified by the inability to visit them.
Some have family members on the frontlines; those have been “assigned to the COVID unit.” The worry and the sleepless nights that accompany that, I cannot imagine.
And of course those who ARE the frontlines. The constant anxiety, stress, fear, exhaustion, and sadness.
A lot of us are losing sleep.
Some people have chronic health conditions, and worry about becoming one of the now million-plus positive cases in the U.S. Or worse, one of the statistics. Or have a family member with a chronic illness. Some may not be in a “high-risk” category, but worry still.
Some worry about the long-term effects this will have on their children. How their lives have changed and how they may never know life the same way, ever again. One friend said, “how are they supposed to start an adult life in this?” Another said, “not having answers to the questions your kids ask has ripped [her] apart.”
Some don’t want to kiss their partners, for fear of catching/spreading the virus unknowingly. The simple act of holding hands, a gesture of love and comfort, is falling away to the necessity of hand hygiene and disease prevention. It has changed how we share love with our partners and our children.
So here we are. No better, no worse. But we’re definitely not alone.