It seems like one minute, I was at work and being told that we would all work from home. Now, over 40 days later, this has become my new normal.
I wake up and log on then I sit in silence with my thoughts as I work. I log off and then I distract myself with television shows and movies until I go to sleep. And, then it starts all over again.
The highlight of my day is when I have to run to the grocery store or pick up something essential. But, I do it very quickly and then run back into the safety of the house. Even if I order food, it’s a quick transaction. The delivery driver looks relieved as I snatch the bag from his hand, both of our arms outstretched trying to keep as much distance between us as possible.
This is my new life.
I really don’t want to complain because I have amenities and a comfortable place to wait out my quarantine. I have the ability to continue working. I’m as safe as I can make myself. So, I really shouldn’t complain because others are going through worse.
However, I am acutely aware that I am being triggered.
I was naïve at first. I didn’t think this was going to bother me. I have worked from home before. I have even lived with someone when both of us had to be home together. He was injured and I was laid off. We spent months together in a house and it wasn’t bad.
But, this is different. After a few weeks, I felt the duress. There is fear involved in preventing illness and the combination brought me back to being a child. When I was a child, I hated being stuck in my house. I numbed myself with movies and snacks. I tried to be as invisible as possible. If my parents were in a bad mood or my Dad was feeling like he wanted to pick on someone, my day was hell. I walked on eggshells never knowing what the emotional climate would be from hour-to-hour. Even if I felt I could breathe free, things could change rapidly.
They monitored the snacks and complained about what I ate. There were certain food and drinks that were off-limits. I spent much of my day trying not to set-off the parent alarm by doing too much, but my goal was to try to enjoy myself. I scurried around the house like a mouse. Going from corner to corner, grabbing what I wanted and disappearing.
My favorite was when they were watching a movie because then the lights would be out so I couldn’t be seen from the living room while I was in the kitchen. I wouldn’t have to face the inquisition. I still do it now when I want something. I question it in my head and try to talk myself out of wanting it rather than to go into the kitchen and get it. If I was caught, an authority figure would tear into all the reasons I was greedy, ungrateful or some other litany of assumed criticism. Now, I realize that I was probably eating my feelings.
As I am stuck in the house, I find myself replaying the deprivation that I used to survive. In my mind as a kid, the problem was not how my wanting things were handled. The problem was that I wanted things. And, if I could sit without needing or wanting anything then the problem was solved. I mastered the temperature check. I knew when I could push it a bit further and get what I want. I learned to be a thief. I learned that if I was in dire need or if I wanted to enjoy myself that I had to work around my parents.
And, now, as I face the decision if I need something from the store whether it is essential or not, I feel the guilt and shame returning. I feel anxiety as if there is some punishment waiting for me at the end of going out for what I really need.
Years of learning not to feel selfish, but practicing self-care seem to be chipping away with each passing day. Breathing helps. And, I have to remind myself that I’m not the little girl in the house anymore.
I am finding healthier ways to occupy my time. I try to read self-help information and do things that make me feel better. The Quarantine isn’t bad. I can handle it.
I just didn’t know that emotional neglect was the old friend waiting in the wings to welcome me back into isolation.
Fortunately, my insurance allows me to introduce myself to a new friend who calls herself a therapist. I think I might lean on her a little bit to get through this.
If you feel in any way triggered by the quarantine, do not be afraid to find someone to talk to.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo courtesy iStock.