Fear Is A Four Letter Word

There are two times during the day when I don’t worry.

When I don’t fear for my own mortality, or the mortality of my loved ones. When I don’t worry that I will lose all my money and the only food I will have are the oranges growing in my backyard.  A litany of worries leaves me two times a day.

The first time is when I step outside our home – standing alone on the front lawn – and I take that first glorious deep breath of fresh air. I feel alive again and not afraid.  I feel safe for the first time in the day.  Until I see a person walking down our sidewalk heading towards our home and I start to tense up.  

Humans are the enemy in our world right now.  

Well, no that’s not entirely true.  Humans aren’t the real  enemy:  the coronavirus is the enemy. Humans are the vehicles that the virus hitches a ride on to get to the next human.  Without us, the virus dies, so to stop the spread we have to stop human connection: no reaching out to one another, no touching, no hugging, no people to populate our lives.

But humans need other humans.  

Research has shown that babies who aren’t touched or picked up stop growing, and if they aren’t ever hugged or held they eventually die.  That’s how important human touch is to us.  And now, we’re being asked to eliminate it from our lives. We’ve been sent to our rooms and told to isolate, separate from one another.  Those of us who are lucky enough to have a spouse, a roommate, or some children in our homes, overlook our current fear of intimacy and somehow find safety with the one(s) we’re locked up with.  

But even that we can’t be sure of.  

We’re not connected by the hip – before this quarantine we didn’t all go to the same places or have contact with the same people before we closed our door to the world.  In the beginning of our quarantine, we sweat that out, praying that we didn’t bring the virus home with us, as we sit and wait in dreadful anticipation: Will I get sick? Will my family get sick because of me?  And if sickness followed us inside of our home, how will we care for each other when caring involves connection and touch, and touching is no longer allowed?  We toughed it out during those anxious first couple of weeks and when we didn’t get sick we started to feel a little safer; bored, even.  At least the threat was outside our doorstep now and not within.  We settled in and tried to adjust.

Until it was time when we had to leave the house again.

We needed food, we needed supplies, medicine, toilet paper; we needed M&Ms or more importantly, alcohol.  We’re not the only ones; the rest of the world needed it too. We had to go back outside again and that meant more people, more human connection.  How could we navigate this new outside-our-door world and still stay away from people?  Figuring this out is what stresses us, exhausts us, pisses us off, makes us grumpy or depressed or filled with a hunger that no amount of Doritos, Reese’s peanut butter cups, or Dove bars can satisfy.  It doesn’t take one glass of wine or even two to deal with life now.  We’re at the leave- the-bottle-and-get-the-next-one-ready stage.

And this forced isolation has only just started.

We see one month end and learn that we will be indoors for the next month, too.  April looms long in front of us, and we hear of events being canceled all the way through June.  How will we do this?  Will we get used to it?  Will it start to feel easier?  Will we ever stop missing each other, and the human connection, that needed human touch that we all seem to live for?

The second time in my day when my worries slip away happens at bedtime. When I shower again to wash the day off of me, when I gargle with Listerine in the hopes of killing whatever germs or viruses might be thinking of settling there.  When I wash my hands for the hundredth time, and put bandaids on the tiny cuts on my skin from washing so much.  When I put on my hand lotion, knowing I won’t have to wash them again for eight hours, and I crawl into bed, finally done with my day.  Now, at last, I can rest.

Until tomorrow.

(How are you filling your days and what are you using to help you connect with loved ones who you can’t see in person?  Is the quarantine getting harder or easier for you with each passing day?)


16 thoughts on “Fear Is A Four Letter Word

  1. We survive by striving to maintain some sense of normalcy. We have a 20 month old babbling burst of joy that explodes out of the hallway every morning that keeps us going. She does not deserve to have that joy and energy squelched. The flip side of that is the hole left in our hearts from missing her cousins, and their parents.

    I’ve been using electronic connections to maintain some semblance of connection with friends. And we’ve been keeping ourselves busy making masks. My escape valve is going into the garage and calling a colleague who lets me rant with abandon. We usually end up laughing at ourselves.

    It’s not getting any easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like a perfect way to get through this confining time. And what a joy to have a 20 month-old there with you as you go through it. Little kids can be such a wonderful escape from all the “should-dos,” “have-to” and “to-dos” – all the boring adult tasks we carry on our shoulders. There’s never a better distraction than discovering the wonders of the world through the eyes of a 20 month-old. Or diving into their world of play and wonder. I envy you that you have that distraction. I would be playing fort and blocks and silly dances all day long. Of course, kids do need naps and diaper changes, so there’s that. But one thing about a 20 month-old: they will keep you so busy you can take a nap time with them and still sleep well at night. What a great way to push the worries away. Stay well. Be safe.


  2. Good grief, Darlene, my friend, I just wrote you a big ol’ breaking-silence-because-I-feel-safe-with-you treatise on Fear. Fear is the enemy, humans are not, and neither is the virus…and all these grand and obvious arguments that filled up a whole paragraph. And WordPress deleted it somehow🤣🤣🤣. Well. So much for that, eh?!

    Thanks, you just provided me the opportunity of a fabulous writing exercise!! And your post is lovely too, of course.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Every emotion has a purpose, so every emotion is important and not our enemy. Fear prepares our body to be ready – to take flight, if necessary, or to fight back if we can’t flee. Fear is what motivates us to protect ourselves, and in this precarious time, when we are most vulnerable, we DO need to take care of ourselves. We need to follow a certain protocol, and fear can motivate us to do that. If I didn’t fear this virus I would not be proactive and wear a mask when I go outside. I wouldn’t distance myself from others, or be careful about washing my hands. We do those things not just because we’re being told to do them. We do them because of the fear we have for what might happen to us if we don’t do them.


  3. Fear is an emotion, it is neither positive nor negative, it just is. It’s our response to fear that we are responsible for and this, too, is neither positive nor negative. Our response to fear is only productive or non-productive. I could go on but you’re probably appropriately bored by a philosophy major if you’ve read this far.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fear produces adrenaline so it’s flight or fight. Humans are hot-wired to react and do something. It’s when we feel we can’t do anything that we turn inward, and feel hopeless. But to quote my son-in-law, who isn’t a philosophy major, but he’s wise, nonetheless: “You need to control the controllable.” So yeah, washing hands, wearing masks, practicing social distancing, keeping busy, getting enough sleep. eating healthily, exercising, doing something you love, reaching out to others via virtual face-to-face teleconferencing, are all ways to “control the controllable” and use the fear to fight against this pandemic.


  4. Hi Darlene, thank you for deciding to follow my blog. I am always grateful to meet someone new even if I can’t sit in the same room with you. I love what you have written here but I hate that something beyond our choosing is shaping our lives and thoughts and writing. We are indeed, all in this together!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Diane, It’s so nice to meet you and thank you for reading my post. Yes, you’re right: we are all in this together. It’s comforting to know that we’re not going through this health crisis alone. Perhaps that’s why writers write – so that we can always reach out and connect with others, no matter where they are. Words always connect us. Stay well. Be safe.


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