The other day I saw a Facebook friend comment on how people she had thought she was very close with had pretty much ghosted her since the COVID-19 stay at home decision was made. Her hurt was palpable. A relative of hers commented, apologizing for not reaching out but mentioning she was having her own crisis and was struggling. I reached out to check in and she responded her husband was diagnosed positive with Covid. While his symptoms weren’t deadly, she was struggling to manage not only working, but also homeschooling two young children, one of whom needed much more help than expected. On top of that, she was balancing doing the shopping, cooking, cleaning, some of which were tasks her husband usually handled. She felt like she was drowning. I started noting that a lot of the social media posts that people were posting that had original started out as lighthearted jokes about struggling had lost their “jokingness”.
As an introvert, it’s never really bothered me to be at home, or on my own. I grew up as an only child and had to find inventive ways to entertain myself. The quiet doesn’t bother me. Even the routine doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind staying home…until you tell me I HAVE to. Even I am starting to get the itch to get outside these four walls. I was taking long walks at the beach, until everyone got the same idea, and now it feels a bit risky. After all, nothing like trying to get fresh air and maintain my distance while some jogger passes by huffing loudly and coughing from mouth breathing. Ugh. I feel like the once refreshing ocean breeze is not taking those huffing jogger breaths and logging them at me at a high rate of speed right into my system. Just the thought has put a big damper on it. We went as a family the other week to walk and hunt for rocks to paint but ended up having to walk down on the sand rather than the boardwalk because it was packed with people.
If you sit back and watch, it’s quite sad and frustrating to see how people behave in times like this. You have the helpers, who offer to do for others to lighten their mental load, and then you have, well, selfish bastards. I understand on some level, the need to protect one’s self and their family, but sometimes people are just selfish and vile. The hoards of store items, the nastiness…it just doesn’t help anyone. I think it’s making those who are struggling struggle even more.
The other thing I’m noticing is the feeling that people are afraid to complain. Sure, there are folks complaining about people going out when they should be decent people and stay at home. There are folks complaining about people being selfish. Social media has plenty of complaints about the external. What you’re not seeing as much of, until you ask, are those people who feeling like they are drowning in all of this. The people who are struggling to hold it together, or feel they are letting their families down. I see a lot of people who are afraid to admit they are getting deeply depressed, or are anxious and panicked about the future. Never mind the fears of actually contracting the virus, and what that means, but also the fears of “how will we manage financially?” “How am I going to work and keep my job while also homeschooling kids?” Even “how am I going to navigate the systems I now need to join?” I see people completely flummoxed at how the loans and unemployment work. The very things that should help people are making them anxious and uncertain.
Yet people are afraid to admit they are struggling.
Things have gotten better here from when we first started. The first week, I was almost in tears trying to manage everything. As someone who is used to managing “most” and being ok with what I can’t, my list of things to manage exploded and my things that I couldn’t manage were scaring the hell out of me. Once my husband was forced to close his business for the time being and was home, I was happy to have the help. He has been aces…helping the kids with school work, doing the store trips, and helping out around the house. As we normally work opposite schedules, he’s not usually home, so it’s been an utter luxury to have him home. There’s been a lot of laughter with him here, and one worry I have thought about is “how will we manage when he goes back to work?” My daughter has been THRILLED to have her dad home and doing things with her more. So have I. I know he worries about not working and carries his own struggles in all of this. He does more than for just our family so he worries about us as well as others. He’s not the type to complain, so of course I worry about him as well. I find I am getting anxious about any of us catching the virus, and what it would mean to us as a family. I worry about family members who are older or high risk, as well as my friends. I worry about keeping things “normal enough” for my kids. I worry about the fact that the politicians aren’t always looking out for the people, and are instead looking out for themselves and their friends. It’s scary stuff. It can feel oppressive.
If you need to vent, and you stumble across this post, please feel free to have a good old fashioned vent in the comments. I think sometimes we need to unload all the things that build up in our heads so that we can begin to more forward again.