In Times Like These...

Date: March 19, 2020 at 1:57 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 19

My brain hurts.

I am exhausted.

I told myself that as soon as Annie went to bed last night, I’d sit down at my computer and hammer out as much work as possible.

Instead, I sat down and stared at a blank screen. I got four minutes and 48 seconds into editing a podcast episode and realized I hadn’t paid attention to a single word within that four minutes and 48 seconds. And so I started over. But I couldn’t get myself to focus.

I opened the Peloton app on my phone and browsed the meditation section. Maybe that would help. But I scrolled mindlessly, never committing to anything, eventually closing it to half-heartedly play another round of Two Dots, making tiny, color-coded squares with my thumb until all the dots cleared the screen.

But I’m on level 1783 and I’m not very good (despite having played, it appears, thousands and thousands of rounds), so I quickly blew through my five allotted lives.

I moved from the couch to the bed, laptop in tow. Maybe a slight change of scenery would help. Four new walls to stare at in a daze.

I would reply to the flood of emails I’ve been ignoring for the past week, I told myself. I’d prep for the two episodes I’m supposed to be recording today. I’d figure out how, in fact, to record those episodes without fully functioning WiFi.

But I couldn’t bring myself to do any of that.

Instead, I curled up in bed, snuggled up close to my laptop, and watched the latest episode of This Is Us. And at the end, I sobbed. Full, heaving sobs.

And I don’t know if it was because Randall is forcing his reluctant, scared mom to leave her family to enroll in some clinical trial in St. Louis because he wants to be a hero and that’s super messed up, or because I just needed to let out some tears.

My situation is hardly unique.

Together, but apart. That’s what we all keep saying, right?

I know we all feel it. The world is so heavy right now, so scary, so uncertain.

“Two weeks,” I told myself a few days ago. “It’ll be a rough go for two weeks, and then back to normal.”

But it’s quickly become clear that this isn’t a two-week situation. This might just be our new normal for a while.

I’m very lucky. I am aware of my privilege, now more than ever. I work for myself, and so does my husband, and with our respective arrangements come many benefits and many challenges. We both have flexibility and neither of us have to rely on an employer to dictate our next move. But, like many of us, we have little safety nets. I’ve already lost several clients and jobs. As races get pushed or canceled, as companies can’t withstand the times, I lose my income. Brian, too. And many of you, I’m sure, feel this as well.

No one feels safe or secure. We all have our reasons for being terrified and anxious and restless right now.

I have moments of calm. Of, “OK, this isn’t a huge deal. The only major difference in my day to day is not having childcare and figuring out how to work and parent simultaneously.” The same thing millions of people are trying to navigate right now. The major disruption of a routine. I do my part, and that’s, it seems, the most I can do. I control what I can control.

But then I see photos of crowded beaches in Florida.

I see TikTok influencers gathering to make dance videos together.

I see New York City’s parks packed with people.

Lines to get into bars.

People. Out. Everywhere.

And I feel like I need to scream. How can we preach “together, but apart” if so many people are still getting together? Why are so many of us taking this so seriously, while others seem to be celebrating this time, drinking it away in public, in groups, at parties?

I want to scream, “DO YOUR PART! Do you not understand how this works?! Do you think you’re immune? Do you just not care? Are you just selfish?”

All this time, I’ve never been particularly worried about the actual sickness. Not for myself, even though I am technically immunocompromised (can never spell that right on the first try, but maybe by the end of this ordeal I’ll start nailing it), and not even for Annie, because so far it seems children are largely spared, at least of the scariest symptoms.

It’s everything else.

It’s the safety. The security. The fact that we are living through such uncertain times. I don’t even watch the news, and yet I can’t avoid the constant updates.

I try to focus on the good. And there truly is so much good right now. There are people playing instruments and singing out on their balconies for their entire communities to hear. People hanging Christmas lights on their homes to bring some sparkle to their neighborhoods. Fitness studios and trainers alike live streaming workouts to keep people active while they’re stuck inside their homes — most of which are doing so free of charge. (I have to think the only company benefiting from all this right now is Peloton!) Debbie Allen is teaching dance classes over Instagram Live. Mark Kanemura is hosting delightful dance parties at 5 PM EST daily. Even Annie’s local music class is hosting free sing-alongs over Zoom, with hundreds of little baby faces filling the squares on the screen, singing and shaking makeshift maracas.

People are getting really creative and they’re making great strides in finding ways to keep us all connected right now.

People are doing so much good, in fact, that it makes me feel badly for not doing more. I have all these great ideas — daily podcasts! Uplifting Instagram Lives! FaceTiming friends ’round the clock! Productivity!!! Reading for pleasure! Yoga! Meditating! Journaling! Going from inbox 513 to inbox zero!

But the reality is that I’m exhausted. I’m spending every waking hour taking care of Annie, and naptime comes and it’s the only time I have to try and cram what was once a full-time job into 90 minutes or two hours a day. I’d love to be meditating, stretching, going for 10-mile runs, putting more good out into the world, but when?

I don’t want to add negativity to the world, and I hope this doesn’t come across as whiny or complaining or ungrateful. It’s just a confusing, overwhelming time and I’m trying to make sense of it all and prepare for the reality that this is far from over.

I have food and shelter and my family in good health. I am so lucky for those things. We have toilet paper and hand sanitizer and soap — in reasonable amounts, not excess — and there’s nothing I “need.” My heart aches for people in far dire situations.

I feel guilty for feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I have no right to complain. But here we are.

It’s just a lot.

It’s heavy.

It’s scary.

It’s uncertain.

It’s just weird. It’s a weird time to be alive. A weird time to be an adult, responsible for making the best decisions possible.

I hope that when this all comes to a close, whenever that is, what I’m left with is memories of the good that came from this. The time I got to spend with Annie, even more than normal, watching her learn something new every single day. The snuggles from Ellie, who can definitely sense that something is up. The kindness from strangers. The unspoken camaraderie.

I remain optimistic. Even during the stress. Even with the middle-of-the-night panic attacks. I commit to staying positive and optimistic.

And to the people sacrificing so much right now — the nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, grocery store workers, teachers — thank you for what you’re doing. I cannot imagine the emotional exhaustion you’re all feeling. It’s the most selfless act, to be on those front lines. We all thank you.

Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.

I love you.

Comments (19)
Posted in Stress-

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