In the interest of total honesty, I will say right now that this whole worldwide pandemic has been a bit of a hindrance to my life. I mean, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel kind of like it’s gotten in the way of a few things the last few months.
Maybe I’m alone in this?
Okay, in all seriousness, after more than six months of barely leaving my house, I think I’m at the point where my love of solitude has finally been overwhelmed by my need for human contact. It’s a strange situation that I’ve never really found myself in before. How do you deal with a change in circumstance so profound that it challenges your entire worldview? I have literally NEVER in my adult life wanted to be out and about among other people.
I don’t like peopling.
Here’s the funny thing. Every few years I suffer from severe bouts of agoraphobia. This is the kind where I will literally not leave the house AT ALL for months at a time. Back in September of 2019, I got caught up in my latest bout, struggling to leave my home, refusing to see people. I couldn’t bring myself to walk to the end of our driveway to check the mail. It was wild.
My husband encouraged me to go places, with or without the family. I tried – I really did. Between September and late February, I can count on one hand the number of times I left the house. All of them were like torture. I just couldn’t deal with it.
But then, in early March, I found myself finally coming out of the fog. I suddenly felt okay again. Just in time for 2020 to rear its ugly head at me and let me know that it had taken offense to my attitude.
Okay, bitch, it seemed to say. You want to hide inside for months on end? Well now’s your chance.
And well… you know the rest. All that get-up-and-go I had suddenly acquired had nowhere to go. It just got up and went. And now it’s October, and I’ve basically been housebound for over a year. My husband works from home. My kids do virtual learning. I am NEVER alone, yet I feel always far from human contact.
2020 was supposed to be my year. I know so many who have said the same thing. I guess we all had the grandest of plans. But this year really was built up so highly in my mind.
God damnit, I bought a planner. AND I USED IT!
Still, here’s where I am now. I have spent the last six months rethinking everything. Who I am. What I want. How I live.
I have put my energy into my kids and family. I’ve stopped letting anger run my life, refusing to give in to the usual frustrations that come with my day to day living. Instead, I’ve let more things go. I don’t sweat the smaller stuff. I look the other way more often.
My house? It’s embarrassing how messy (dare I say dirty?) it is. But luckily, no one comes over in a pandemic!
My kids? Haven’t taken a bath in at least a month. But luckily, they don’t go to school, so no one actually sees or smells them. They’ll take a bath when they’re ready.
My laundry? We live out of baskets overflowing with clothes. No one has taken responsibility for folding or putting them away. When we eventually can’t figure out which ones are clean or dirty, we just rewash them all. It’s against all of my environmental standards, but it’s the path of least resistance for my mental health.
My big plans for 2020? Let’s face it, they aren’t really happening. I had to give myself the grace to accept that I wasn’t going to hit my goals. But I didn’t just give up. Instead, I focused in one one or two of the things I most wanted to achieve and went with it.
So right now, I am writing. I have a novel that I started in 2009. It’s a children’s fantasy novel, and I am working on it again. It’s rough, but I’m going to have it finished before this year ends.
And I am working on being more creative. I have taken up woodworking. It’s a weird inherited hobby, but I am enjoying it. I’ve made a lot of furniture, and it’s been fun. I made my kids a club house. I built a huge picnic table. I created a lovely bench for our yard. I have a ton of cute crafts for our home. Creating is like therapy. It helps. It’s good for me.
Finally, I am working on my mental health. Just taking everything one step at a time and making sure that I am here when people reach out. I get emails on the daily from women (always women) who just need someone who gets it. I get it. I’m here. I listen, I try to be a friend. I give them what I wish I’d had along the way. I hope to be of help.
Now, as this year winds down, I don’t let myself believe that everything will go back to “normal.” Hell, I doubt I was ever normal in the first place. My life has always been a bit different from those around me. But I do believe I’m learning how to navigate these strange times as well as I ever did.
When things change again (and they will), I’ll learn to navigate life there, too.
And so will you.