If I am completely honest, in the very beginning, I was in denial. Daughter #2 had just flown in from school for the famous Spring Break that would never end, and daughter #1 was hoarding beans and chocolate in LA, stocking up for what sounded like a science fiction pandemic. Much like most people, I didn’t really grasp all that was happening. And for the fleeting moments when I did, it felt so huge and overwhelming, that I much preferred the denial, head-in-the-sand, approach. Do you remember your mindset on March 13?
We drove to L.A. to help with our daughter’s relocation effort. We pretended she would only need to come home for a few weeks. We actually thought we could dine at our favorite spots in L.A. and visit friends in Malibu while we were in town. While it quickly became evident that none of those activities were smart, we were still allowing some flexible thoughts to pop in. Why was it OK to visit WannaBuyAWatch and have a long conversation in the small store, with no ventilation, three employees, and four other patrons? We were armed with no masks, no gloves, just denial. Why was it OK to go to the sax repair guy’s building, enter his apartment, use his bathroom, and discuss next steps? Complete denial behavior.
As the weekend evolved, we found ourselves terrified at our own behavior and witnessed, in horror, the lines of people outside The Laugh Factory on Sunset for a Saturday night show. Had no one told them? Did they not know that people were dying? But, then somehow it was acceptable for me to hug my daughter’s roommate as we said our farewells. “See you soon, stay safe!”
We landed back in our homestead, our cozy compound. And then it dawned on me. I don’t have to go anywhere, my amazing family is together and safe, and I am literally forbidden from going to my office. I am among the incredibly fortunate to live in a lovely climate, have a beautiful roof over my head, and literally have everything I need. How bad can it be to work from home? How hard will it be to fill the empty nest? There were definitely aspects that were very appealing.
As in any bad relationship, however, the anxiety grew. We became obsessed with every detail of the virus and hung on to every word. We couldn’t get enough of the crisis news and allowed it to fuel our every thought and action. This new entity had moved in with us, into our psyches, uninvited, and with no intention of leaving any time soon.
As we know too well, Covid, has become the ultimate in abusive relationships, fraught with a million mixed messages. Not the least of which is, “Stay home with your loving family, get plenty of exercise and fresh air, hunker down, and snuggle up, because if you don’t…I might kill you.” Always holding that threat over our heads. It is so manipulative and messed up, right?
While some of us continue to be utterly rigid in our mask wearing and quarantining behaviors, others do not. While some countries have leaders who listen to the wisdom of scientists, our country does not. While heroic people are working day and night to help us, save us, and rescue us, the results of their tireless efforts have not trickled down into our day to day existence. California is as shut down as ever, and Covid, you continue to live in our space, uninvited, and with no intention of leaving any time soon.
It is now day 135. And I, like many, am done.
Since I can’t change you, Covid, I am changing how I cope. I want you gone. I resent you. The terror you have inflicted on so many is unbearable. In my personal world, I mostly resent how you are disrupting the lives of my daughters at the precise moment when they could be soaring. I hate how you are forcing my girl to quarantine, inside the quarantine, simply because she spent time with friends outside of our bubble. And on a global level, I abhor your infiltration into our collective unconscious. You and your abusive power, are even making the healthy people and scientists depressed, anxious, and exhausted.
So, I declare No More. If you, Covid, can make me anxious, then I can make me calm and clear. You are not the boss of me. The world is finally going through something together, across time zones, across cultures, across religions, across ages and you, Covid, will not bring me down.
From here on, I am committed to:
· Continuing my vigilance, and vow to wear a mask for as long as it takes.
· Stop “doomscrolling” the media and instead seek out the positive stories.
· Stay creative and enjoy the plethora of creatives out there who are becoming their best selves.
· Have boundaries around the myriad of things that so easily irritate me now.
· Be optimistic about us coming through this with resilience and wisdom.
· Be inspired by my 20 somethings and their enthusiasm.
· Support movements that fuel our strengths such as #blacklivesmatter and #metoo.
Please join me for a Breaking Up With Covid Party tonight! Ice cream and decaf on me!