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.
(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?)