14 June 2020 — The COVID Diaries: Staying Sane in a Time That’s Not

 

Dear Diary,

Alrighty, I started talking to you in March, Diary, so I could keep a record of what the After Times are like. I knew then we were entering a New Phase — hopefully a finite new phase, one limited to weeks, perhaps months — and I wanted to Remember what Really Happened. What it was Really Like. How we Really Coped.

Well, I’ll tell you, Diary, I’m Fatigued at the moment. And yes, technically it’s been an Era of Increasing Fatigue, starting with Becoming a Mother, followed by Becoming a Mother of Children Who Experience Disability, followed by Becoming a Mother of Twins, followed by Realizing I Have a Mental Illness and Depression Sucks Ass, followed by Realizing I’m a Person of Profound Privilege and Have Used My Power Poorly by Staying Quiet in the Face of Injustice, followed by Trying to DO Better Now That I’m Beginning to Know Better, followed by the Election of Donald F. Trump (yeah, yeah, I know his middle initial is J — I just feel like my interpretation is more accurate), followed by the Dissolution of My Church Because It Turns Out Exclusion Has Always Been a Main Tenet of the Christian Faith, followed by Living in a Country That Cages Asylum Seekers — including babies — During the Worst Displaced Persons Crisis the World Has Ever Known, followed by Horrific Crimes Against People of Color and Folks Who Are LGBTQ (which has Always Been Happening, but bless us Whities for Our Willful Blindness in the Face of Injustice), followed by… oh, IDK, Diary… it’s just Basically a Shit Show rn, you know?

So, yep. I’m tired.

And there are a lot of things on the Tired-Of List — Systemic Racism, LGBTQ Prejudice, a Lack of Advocacy for Kids Living in Poverty, a Dearth of National Leadership — but COVID is right up there, and, like White Folx everywhere, I sort of feel like Bad Things Should Be All Done when I’m tired of them. Definition of privilege much? Why, yes. Yes, there it is. I see it. It’s kind of hard to miss once it becomes obvious. Like the glare of the sun off a glass high rise — BLINDING. But also, I realized this past week I’ve been much less diligent about COVID precautions. I’ve seen more people. I’ve gone more places. And yes, I’ve still worn my mask and abided by the rules, but I can feel my diligence slipping. Because I’d just like for it to be Over now. OK? Please? 

We’re three months into the After Times, and I understand why there’s a spike in COVID cases. We’re not very good at maintaining a high level of vigilance. Those of us with a measure of privilege — which we often mistake for freedoms everyone has (hint: they don’t) — get weary and decide we’re done. I hear it in the demands for schools to open at full capacity no matter what science says. I see it in the cries for business as usual. I recognize it in the criticism that the mask-wearers are foolish fear-mongers and that we should let the vulnerable look out for themselves while the rest of us get back to normal. 

And don’t get me wrong — I’d like for schools to be open, and I’d like for businesses to be back to work. I don’t love wearing a mask, and I understand the desire to return to more familiar times. 

But I also see that my desire for all those things is a result of exhaustion plus privilege. 

Exhaustion + Privilege = Imaginary World Where Everything Is As I Wish It Would Be

It’s easier for me to “get back to normal” because my norm met my most basic needs. I had food. I had shelter. I had education for my kids. I had justice. I had safety and the ability to turn off screens when the news was overwhelming. 

Now, all of that is harder. If I’m going to maintain COVID vigilance, I have to be more organized. I have to plan my shopping and my family’s meals and prepare ahead of time. I have to manage our environment in a way that facilitates kindness and cooperation. I have to think about how to get my kids on a learning trajectory and inject exercise into their days so they don’t go BONKERS or lose themselves inside YouTube. I have to stay on top of health recommendations and safety standards and adjust as we learn more from public health officials. And, if I really, truly desire to stand beside people who are vulnerable and marginalized, I can’t just shut off injustice when it makes me brain numb and weary. They can’t turn off their lived experience, and if things are ever going to change, I can’t come and go from What’s Right as I please. 

But if I’m going to be honest and say How It Really Is for Me right now, I haven’t been doing well. I’ve been falling down on appropriate self-care which means I’ve been mentally unable to engage in any of the above. 

I’m staying up too late at night, trying to shut off my revving brain with Netflix. (SPOILER: that delays the revving — it doesn’t shut it off. Although I’m not sorry for loving Jane the Virgin.) 

I’m making less nutritious food at home and DoorDashing more food from “out.” Partly because I haven’t done a good job of getting help from my family to clean up so I have a place I can cook without wanting to beat my head against the (filthy) counter. And partly because I’m feeling Blerg and Bleck and Meh so, you know… motivation is an issue.

I’m functionally ignoring all the thing I know are most helpful in calming myself — getting enough sleep, reading for fun, following a simple schedule, cleaning my room, setting screen time limits and small-step action plans rather than just spinning out on helplessness. 

So I’m just naming that all here, Diary. Just saying that’s what Exactly Three Months Into COVID is looking like. Feeling like. Acting like. 

And yes, awareness and naming it will — cross fingers — help me make changes. But that’s not really the Ultimate Goal this second. The Ultimate Goal this second is simply Telling the Truth. What’s Really Happening. Where I’m Truly At.

Over and Out, Diary. 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Maria Azzi via Unsplash.

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
9 comments
  1. Exhaustion + Privilege = Imaginary World Where Everything Is As I Wish It Would Be
    . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Oh, my friend, THIS! This is truth. This is, at least, white privileged truth. UGH!
    With you. I hear you. I might be you. (Well, except the door dash, I don’t do that. Yet. Instead, we eat a lot of lentils and I might be sick of them.)

  2. <3

  3. Hey! You got this, Girl! You can do this! Take yourself on a walk today. Just that one thing–take yourself on a walk.

  4. This. 100% this from the first word to the last.

    As for COVID, my vigilance is slipping (slipped) even though I’m keenly aware that it is just as dangerous now as it ever was – maybe more so because everyone’s tired of dealing with it and a lot of people seem to be throwing caution to the wind.

    The world just seems too much.

    And, yes, as I write that, I realize it’s been that way forever for people of color and anyone else (lots) who has been systematically (systemically?) marginalized.

    UGH. UGH. UGH.

  5. Hello Beth’s diary,
    this feeling of tiredness seems to be all over everyone (though somehow that doesn’t help). I read your blog everyday and I love your light, thank you for the words you send out.
    I also follow another blog called Raptitude and the author wrote about a cupboard list of things that make him feel better (I will not put a link because I am not sure it is allowed). I have started my own list: drinking a glass of water, reading the scripture, walking outside for 30 minutes, etc… maybe it might help you.
    Waving from the gray

  6. I hit the wall this week. All the squashed down thoughts started leaking out. Then I realised the same thing happened 4 weeks ago! Good old hormones magnifying lockdown fatigue. I read a book by a psychologist recently that said experiments show that people only have so much self-discipline BUT they can find some extra if they are made to feel it serves a great purpose. Our behaviour now, as far as complying with infection prevention goes, serves the purpose of protecting our loved ones and everyone’s loved ones.
    When the schools shut, I made a family checklist of the basics to be done each day for health and sanity. Obviously I am the one who ticks items off for everyone, but it helps me keep tabs on exercise and water drinking and my back exercises and sewing.
    Do a brain dump of everything on your plate and ask your husband’s help to start doling out the responsibilities. Maybe your children will read the blog and clean the kitchen! I thought I would get more help from my 12yo during This Time of Times but it hasn’t happened so I understand there is a lot of resistance. Prioritise your sanity. Waving from my imperfectly vacuumed home (12yo sort of did it!)

  7. Dearest Beth, you are so right. My kids are grown. Most of the grandkids are driving. I sit all day and do nothing and I’m exhausted too.
    I had a little trailer that I travelled in, solo. Decided it needed too much work I didnt feel capable of doing anymore and hubby said he worried too much about me going away, so gave it away.
    But now I feel trapped, like my life is over. I’ve put my atlas away, no more national park guidebooks stacked next to my recliner. Nothing to do. Then I look at my little condo, much too much stuff, too little room to store it and too much dust. And I dont care.
    2 of the girls came over yesterday with parts of their family for an early Fathers Day breakfast. They brought everything, including the coffee, used disposable everything and it was nice! By noontime, everyone was gone and had nothing to do for the afternoon. When Nascar got delayed for lightning and then rain, I went to bed! Dad had so much breakfast he didnt want dinner.
    As the kids left, I said I dont care and gave/got big hugs from everyone. Only 2 of them are out in public and only 1 interacts with anyone during the day, so we’re all pretty safe.
    But I dont care, I want the old kind of craziness, the old kind of normal. I want all 6 kids and 10 grandkids and all the friends and all the hustle and insanity of an early fathers day breakfast. I want being away for birthdays and mothers day at some remote canyon in Utah or watching a lighthouse in Maine or a waterfall in Utah. The whole world has got cabin fever. We need our typical lunacy.
    Thanks for sharing, again, that I’m not the only fruitcake in the bakery!

    1. I KNOW, Anne Marie! Even though I’m retired, I had been working part-time. Now I delay certain things on one day so I’ll have something to do the next. Not even a husband or partner at home to distract me. No cat, no dog. Thank God for good neighbors and for friends who have let me start weeding their overgrown yard!

  8. Truth. Every single bit of it.
    -waving from the dim

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