Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she had expectations about herself and who she was and how productive she ought to be, and isn’t that a funny thing?
Once upon a time there was a woman who lived before a pandemic, and she was in a river, metaphorically speaking, rushing along, pulled by the current of parenting and productivity and progress. The Before Times, she calls it now that she lives in the After Times. The Before Times with a social schedule and appointments and meetings and seeing whole faces at the grocery store. The Before Times, that rushing river, sweeping her through her days from alarm bells in the morning, running running running to What’s Next, usually late, blaming herself that Functional People seemed to be stronger swimmers, heads above water, accomplishing more than her, even while navigating the rapids.
Once upon a time there was a woman who lived before a pandemic, and she saw the warning signs along the bank that Danger may be Ahead. A worldwide sickness. A deadly force making its way steadily forward. But it was the Before Times, and she’d seen warning signs before that didn’t come to fruition—earthquakes, hurricanes, snow storms, fires—so she didn’t worry much. Even if the pandemic came, it would be for a season, she thought, like Spring. Perhaps through Summer? Maybe even a year. But she didn’t expect—not really—that she’d be ten months in and anticipating ten months more. At least. Initially, she thought in terms of weeks. Two weeks? Three? Four is a whole month. Then she thought in terms of months. Then a year. A year and a half. Now, she realizes it may approach two. Two years. Next Spring? 2022? If we’re lucky. If enough people are vaccinated. If the vaccines protect against the new variants. If we learn what percentage of the population is required to achieve herd immunity. If if if if if if if.
Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she was both glad to leave the river of the Before Times—adios, packed schedule!—and disoriented in the spill and swell of the After Times. Her introvert self didn’t mind all the Not Talking and Not Socializing. It was nice not to say no or need a reason to lay low and be quiet. But it was also stressful to swirl in the eddies of the unknown, caught in conflicting currents, dragged ‘round and ‘round. How do we do this safely? How do we protect mental health? When is an eddy a whirlpool? When is it a maelstrom?
Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she noticed changes in her body. An invisible weight on her shoulders. Aching in her joints. Tension in her jaw. Increased, generalized pain. More dips into the ibuprofen bottle. Depression? She wondered. Time for a medication adjustment? Or just, you know, living during a pandemic and political upheaval and civil unrest and racial injustice and economic crisis? Hitting the pandemic wall. Smack. Straight to the face. Or both. Maybe both. Probably both. All of the above.
Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she was tired. Viscerally. And realizing this could have been a much shorter blog post, because that really captured the whole essence, anyway. But she wasn’t the only one who was tired and turning turning turning ‘round and around, and sometimes it’s enough to know you’re not alone.
So, you know, I just thought I’d throw this out there to let you know. In case you’re that person, too.
With love and waving in the dark,