Living Through a Pandemic

It feels surreal.

I’ve been sheltering at home since early/mid-March. which makes it about two months next week. I only go out for necessity and essential functions: grocery shopping and laundry, often times going in the same timeframe to limit my time outside. Always wearing a mask and gloves. Spraying my things with Lysol upon returning home. Showering right away. Following precautions and advisories…

It’s a scary time.

I know people who are in the frontlines right now as healthcare workers. I know people who have been directly affected by Covid-19. I know people who have lost family members to the disease. I know people who feared for their loved ones as they were fighting the virus. I work in the mental health and human services field, constantly being inundated by coronavirus news and updates on protocols, trying to navigate conversations with people about their anxieties. Trying to provide assurances that we will continuing working on their goals and making bigger strides once this pandemic ends. Except the reality that we all know is that the world is full of uncertainty right now, no one has the answers and we’re all doing the best we can.

It is lonely.

Sheltering in place is isolating, especially if you live alone, but no less so if you’re in a full house of family members. We’re disconnected from the people in a way that matters, physically. Yes, we have technology and a multitude of ways to communicate or “see” one another, but it’s not the same. We’re missing out on hugs, high fives, kisses, etc. Even handshakes are a novelty right now. Beyond that, the unprecedented and elongated time in quarantine puts us in a position where we’re really left alone with our thoughts, slowed down in our lives. This can be unsettling and daunting, especially if we’re used to being on the go.

It is an eye-opening experience.

Through the course of this pandemic, I’ve become increasingly grateful for what I have and appreciative of how fortunate I am. It’s so easy to whine and complain about being stuck at home, but the fact that I have a place to call home is a big deal right now. I work for minimum wage in NYC, which is something that used to really bother me, but I still have a job and that’s a blessing right now. Yes, unemployment benefits are probably more than my salary, but it’s a great relief to not have been hit by an uncertain and devastating situation atop of the pandemic fears. I take my friends and family for granted. Before this pandemic, I always flaked on plans with the notion that I can reschedule or see them later. If this situation has taught me anything it’s that either later might not happen or it might not happen for a while. Not to say I won’t be refusing plans because that’s boundaries, but if I say yes to something, I’ll be more likely to follow through. As for family specifically, I would complain about them because we always have disagreements, but not seeing them for so long has made me miss them quite a bit (especially my nephew). It feels like we’re worlds apart even though we’re all in the same borough, barely an hour away from each other.

I don’t know what trauma I will carry with me after this experience. I don’t know if I’ll continue to stay safe and healthy as I have. I don’t know what’s going to happen and what the new normal will be when we slowly start transitioning back to life pre-Covid-19. All I know is that we can only take things day by day as we have been. I hope to bring the lessons I’ve learned with me out of this pandemic and be more intentional with how I live my life.