Tomorrow is June 1st 2020. Tomorrow marks eleven weeks since I went into work. Tomorrow, according to the government, we can ease lockdown.
It’s too soon.
I shall remain ‘alert’ as instructed which means I will remain home as much as possible. It’s hard, I long for my workplace, my colleagues, my friends. I long for screenless conversations, fearless shopping trips, guiltless hugs.
I shall wait.
The last eleven weeks have been hard, even for this introvert. I am forever grateful for a garden to sit out in, a safe home to live in, a monthly pay cheque – yet it has still been hard.
This constant underlying state of anxiety has taken its toll on my mental health. Being alone with my thoughts so much doesn’t help. Daily, my store of energy is claimed by the avoidance of crying. Some days are easier than others, but the desire to let out the pain and sadness in salted tears is always there.
And that desire to cry leads to self-criticism. After all, what do I have to cry for? I have a home, food in the cupboards, a garden to relax in, family and friends, money in the bank – my life is wonderful … isn’t it?
Why do I cry?
I cry for all those I know are suffering, who have lost the chance to say farewell to those they care about, died alone.
I cry for all the missed moments of life, birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries.
I cry for all those whose lives have been put on hold.
And I cry for my loneliness, for the absence of hugs, all the daily interactions which ‘normal’ life gave me and lockdown denies me.
I read somewhere that for introverts, who you would think are relishing this time of isolation, it is still difficult. Because while we enjoy our alone time, we now have no ‘together’ time as contrast, no ‘peopling’ to show us how much we like our own company. We all need darkness to remind us of the joys of light. In a way, this may be true. For many of us.
Everything is the same for me. Work and play are only delineated by time not place. And work lurks silently in the corner of the room, reminding me of that ‘other’ life.
My life is confined to a small plot of ground, a few rooms, a garden. Only the once weekly ‘click and collect’ trip to the supermarket allows me to escape, for a little while. I miss the gym, I miss people watching from a coffee shop window, I miss popping to the shop for a treat, I miss singing loudly in my car on my commute to work, I miss strolls on the promenade. I live five minutes from the seaside, yet I have seen it only twice in eleven weeks – both on an early morning bike ride.
But consider – this confinement is physical, my mind is free to roam, technology allows a digital life to continue across oceans and continents. I am slowly regaining my mental health, better days are more frequent in number, therapy helps. And this improvement heralds changes in attitude and accomplishments.
I am reading more. I am writing more. I am feeling fluttering excitement for a future. I have slowed down, learned acceptance for what is, to take pleasure in the moments.
There is a future, and many hope for a future that has changed, that is for everyone not just the rich and powerful. I plan to create my own small ripples to shift us towards that better future.
But for now I will enjoy each moment, know that despite upheavals I am resilient, smile and be still.