There seems to be a general attitude out there that as long as you keep your ass at home, you have nothing to worry about. Our grandparents and parents had to deal with wars and so on, all you have to do is sit your ass on the couch. I disagree, I don’t think it is just that easy. Maybe to keep the virus from spreading, yes, by all means we should stay at home as much as we can and follow the rules, even if you don’t necessarily agree, don’t be a dick and infect someone else. But to act as if this is easy and easier than what our parents/grandparents went through, like it’s no big deal is not right either. Not it’s not the same but it’s not so easy either.
War was in another country, not in our back yard or front yard or town. This war is on our own soil and while it is definitely different from when sons and daughters went overseas to fight and possibly be killed, this is still war. We can be caught in the cross-fire unknowingly by just trying to go pick up essential things like groceries. Sons and daughters are on the front lines but so are parents and grandparents. Instead of just soldiers, we have LPNs, nurses, doctors, EMTs, law enforcement, grocery workers, restaurant workers, gas station attendants, nursing home workers and so on.
Everyone is directly exposed to the enemy just by living your life and trying to survive. This is also an invisible enemy, it’s not someone holding a gun, a grenade or dropping bombs that you might have the chance to see and avoid. This virus is completely unseen by the naked eye and can be carried on a gentle spring wind right into your body. You have zero chance of seeing it before it attacks you. You might be afraid to even leave your house, terrified when you have groceries delivered or picked up because of this invisible enemy. You may have been on the front lines the whole time, dealing with this enemy and watching it claim its victims, terrified you or your family are next.
In war, you have a weapon to fight back, in this pandemic, the only thing you can do is hide if you have that luxury but a good percentage of us have to still work. I’ve been fortunate to work at home but my husband, who works for a power utility, has been working 7 days, 12 hour shifts which is incredibly hard on the body. I can’t even imagine what doctors and nurses and EMTs are working or how are they handling it. They are so amazing, I bow to them, they are my heroes. If you get this virus, you may or may not survive. Thousands of people have already been killed on American soil by the enemy. And you have that a-hole out there telling you on social media that you should be able to accomplish all these great goals. Fuck you pompous social media asshole.
I’m just trying to get through the day, sequestered mostly at home and worrying about my family and friends as well as humanity at general. I’m worried that the partial lay-off I am now starting (20% of my hours have been cut) will turn into a complete lay off and after 22 years with an employer where many of my coworkers are like family, my career will end. I’m worried for my daughters (one who is out of a job) that the economy will be able to stay strong enough that they can continue paying their house payments, etc. I worry for everyone laid off by the shut-down and didn’t make that much money to start with. How are they living? What can I do to help?
Saying all you have to do is sit home on the couch hugely diminishes what people are going through right now. I don’t believe this is a fair statement and people are feeling as if their fears, sleepless nights, lethargy, depression, anxiety, and so on are unfounded. This is NOT unfounded, this is real, people are dying of an enemy that is silent, invisible and of which we have so little information to fight back. You can’t pick up a gun and shoot it. You can’t even see the f’ing enemy. There is no flash of gunfire to let you know that you have been ambushed. There is nothing. And that is terrifying.
I have one park that has a small enough parking lot, wide trails and enough area that I feel safe hiking. It’s not that I’m afraid that I may be attacked, murdered or raped. I am afraid I might get too close to someone infected, that they might breathe the virus in the air and I’ll walk right through it. Not very many people go to this park (thank god) but when I do have to pass someone on the wide paths, I literally walk ten feet off the trail and crouch down with my back to them to act like I am taking a photo of a flower or something with my phone. I will wave at them all friendly like but inwardly, I ‘m terrified they are carrying the enemy. They are probably perfectly nice people who would never intentionally hurt a soul but yet they are potential carriers of this virus. I feel bad for being this way but I am doing everything in my power to still live my life but also stay safe. I’m also protecting them, just in case I’d be carrying this and be asymptomatic.
One of the few ‘normal’ things I allow myself is to go through the drive through for Starbucks or Dairy Queen, but as soon as I pull away from the window out of sight, I’m wiping everything down and using hand sanitizer. I even wipe the lid where I sip my drink and the spoon that comes in my mini-Blizzard. I had been ordering books from this small bookstore and getting curbside pickup to help them stay in business, but as soon as he socially distance appropriately hands me the book, I throw it on the car floor and sanitize everything. Now, I have to give up my weekly book purchase because my hours have been cut. It was the one joy I had each week. I never normally buy books unless it’s something I will reread or use for reference but now I had been buying books I just wanted to read rather than getting them through the online library. That in itself felt like a decadent extravagance and it also gave me a feeling of helping out, hopefully keeping that bookstore afloat. I might be able to do one book every other week, but I’m starting to become afraid to spend money, I feel like I should save every penny in the case of a layoff.
Picking up groceries, we don’t even get out of the car and we refuse to sign anything or take the receipt. When we get home, we have a table, gloves, sanitizer and bleach spray in the garage in where we do our sanitization of what just was brought into our home. Non-perishable items that we don’t need immediately stay in the garage for at least a week. Other items are washed down as we can with bleach solution. My husband does the sanitizing and I do the carrying in. There is no more just taking it from the trunk of the car into the counter. We don’t even keep the bags the food comes in because we are afraid of contamination. We don’t even recycle them anymore. Touch once with gloves and discard. Not exactly environmentally friendly but safer from the virus.
With the shortages and hoarding, we can’t do just one weekly trip to one store with maybe a stop off at another store to pick up some produce. Nope, we have to do multiple pick ups in multiple towns to get everything we need. Grocery shopping has become almost a full time job and we are only a two-person household. And we allow substitutions on most every item except for a few. It’s not a time to be picky.
I worry about going back into the office, it’s a cube farm with enclosed space and an HVAC system that is cobbled together. The air flow is bad, the area is tight and I have to go through 4 doors to even get to my desk. Doors that are touched by so many people. I miss my friends at work but I’d just be afraid to be near them and vice versa. Working at home every day gets old. I feel like I never get away from the house, I start losing track of days. I’m very, very fortunate and grateful that I can and I’m protected but it’s not easy. I’m not on the front lines, but yet I still should be gentle with myself and acknowledge that I’m struggling a little.
But if I’m not writing the great American novel, doing fabulous home projects, starting a side business, or doing something else equally impressive during this time sequestered at home, then that’s okay. It’s okay that I don’t know what day it is and have to look at my phone or calendar to confirm the date. It’s okay that I don’t feel like cleaning the house or being creative or working on hobbies or anything. It’s okay if I just want to lie in bed and stare out the window. There’s a war out there. It’s okay if I am worried and scared. It’s okay if all I want to do is lie on the couch and watch movies. It’s okay if I’m having trouble sleeping. It’s okay if I miss my grown kids’ hugs. It’s okay if I feel isolated even though I’m an introvert. It’s okay if I’m exhausted even though I didn’t do much all day. It’s okay to cry. All of what I am feeling is okay, acceptable and very much warranted.
I don’t need to achieve, I need to survive. I need to be kind to myself (and others). My feelings are valid even though I’m not sending my sons or daughters off to a foreign country to war. My daughters are in the middle of the war, just like me because the war is HERE. No one has to go across the ocean to be killed by enemy fire. The enemy came to us and you can’t see it. It is threatening everyone I know and love. Everyone.
Be kind to yourself, what you are feeling is warranted for the situation. Don’t listen to social media when they say oh you need to do this or that, and don’t pressure yourself either. Eventually, this too will pass but we will be dealing with the effects for a long time and life as we knew it will change. Some things will be better and some not so great. Look out for your neighbor, for strangers as much as you safely can. We need to support each other just as we did (usually) in war time. But most of all, take care of yourself, be kind to yourself.
Sending my love and praying/meditating/wishing for everyone’s health and safety. Godspeed.