The Discomfort of Isolation in 2020

The Discomfort of Isolation in 2020

2020-10-24 00:26:35

Remember in March when we were all like, staying home? I can do this! I am MADE for this! I’ve wanted nothing more! Or at least that was my attitude. I do love being home. I love my little house and my little family. I love being in my pj’s and snuggling with my cats. I consider myself to be an extroverted introvert. I need my “me,” time. So when Covid came to town, they said “stay home,” and I said, “say no more!”

Fast forward 7 months later and here we are in late October and nobody knows what the heck is going on. We’re sick of our houses. We’re sick of being home and we’re sick of not feeling safe. Not only that, the United States feels like 50 separate countries. It’s hard to know what’s going on in the North vs the West vs the South. Each state is different and each has its own rules. Then within each state, each county might have its own rules. Each state also has its own numbers of Covid cases and deaths and then each county has its numbers too. As far as leadership goes there’s been none, not from the federal government and not here in Florida from our state government. Is it any wonder we collectively have no idea what’s going on or what to do?

I’ve watched people I know (and people I don’t know) all handle this pandemic in their own ways. I have friends who practiced zero social distancing from the beginning and have continued to live their lives however they want with no regard as to what the rules are or the fear of getting themselves or others sick. I have others who (like me) have stayed home 90% of the time and have just started to safely venture out over the last 2 months. I have some friends who only go to certain places with certain people and are content in their pods. 

At this point in Florida, and because they recently opened everything up with zero restrictions, most people have decided that the pandemic is no longer a thing and have decided to return to their lives. Bars and nightclubs have crowds of unmasked people. Organizations are having big events. Weddings are back on. Some of these with precautions, some without. Meanwhile, I am wondering if it’s ok to have a socially distant baby shower for my first baby. All while being told that if I am not comfortable somewhere I should just stay home, instead of being offered genuine safety precautions.

But this blog isn’t really about the intricacies of people’s pandemic choices. It’s about how almost all of us have been feeling this year – some of us more than others. Isolation is a state of being or remaining alone, or apart from others. In one way or another, we’ve all felt that way this year. I have to admit I never really felt isolated until very recently.

It started when people in Florida began doing things again, loosening their rules, returning to the gym, throwing caution to the wind, and acting as if everything was normal again. I, on the other hand, wanted to continue to try to stay safe during this pandemic. The number one reason being this baby in my belly. But the reasons don’t really matter – everyone has to make what they feel like is the best decision for them. Whether it’s an unborn baby, a high-risk immune system, or just wanting to serve the good of the community by doing what you can to prevent the spread. 

I worked from home before the start of this pandemic and I’ve never been more grateful to have a kickass job that I can do from the comfort of my own home. However, I’m used to traveling frequently for work. I’m also used to traveling frequently for pleasure. All of that ceased in March. I stopped going to my favorite place ever – the gym. My days began to look like Groundhog Day – wake up, meditate, drink my coffee, work, work out in the garage, cook dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. It became so redundant that a few weeks ago I found myself saying, what is this all for? Why am I doing this? What’s the point?

I have felt far away from everything. Far away from people, far away from my sobriety, far away from my writing, far away from fitness, far away from life. I noticed that I normally always have 7 projects going at a time. I am normally writing a book, multiple blogs, taking multiple courses, and reading books at the same time. And most importantly I normally have a generally positive outlook on the future and life. I am always excited about what’s to come, what I get to work on in the future, and what I’m going to work on next. But while feeling isolated – I’ve felt like there isn’t a point to this work. It’s like an overarching feeling of existential dread.

Adding to the feeling of severe isolation, I’ve felt not understood, which for me is the worst thing ever. I realize everyone has their own shit to deal with during this pandemic and this tough year in general and I’ve tried hard to be there for others and be compassionate towards what they’re feeling. I’ve been pretty vocal about what makes me feel most connected to others — being seen and heard and I’m just not getting that.

I guess I could write “check on your strong friends,” and keep checking up, but it’s more like, don’t forget about people just because they’re still social distancing and choosing to be safe, especially in states that aren’t doing any of that for us. 

I know what the tools are and I have them, some I have been using (therapy, exercise, getting outside, meditation) and some I haven’t. I can’t help but wonder if I will feel this way when my baby is here and sometimes that worries me. We’ll likely be isolating all over again since Covid isn’t going away anytime soon and he is due in the middle of flu season. 

What do we do with isolation when connection seems so far out of reach?

Don’t put your mental health in the rearview.

We understand this feeling, like all others is temporary. We understand that the actions of some are revealing to us what we need to know. We continue to tell the truth and acknowledge our feelings, even the hard ones. We look discomfort in the face and we say, “I’ve been here before and you won’t defeat me.”

If you’re feeling isolated this year, you are not alone. I am with you, safely distanced of course.

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