I’m stressed. There is a lot going on out there, it feels like the information changes every day. My kids are home all day, every day. They don’t get to run around with their friends, even if we do see them while we are out for a walk. The news coming out of Italy gets more bleak by the minute, and I wonder if we are doing enough to stop this before it hits us like a runaway truck.
I worry about being able to feed my family long term, assuming this continues, which doesn’t feel like a stretch. I worry about my family, all of whom live at least 175 miles away. I worry the grocery stores will have to close because all their employees get sick. I worry that all medical personnel are burning themselves out and will suffer tremendously for it. I worry about the scientists working day and night to give us concrete answers.
This novel coronavirus has kicked my anxiety into full gear. I spend my days and nights imagining all the worst case scenarios. Sleep is not relief from this. The tension in my shoulders, jaw, whole body never releases. Taking a complete, deep breath seems impossible. My brain is a squirrel on meth stuck on a hamster wheel.
I talk to others online about their concerns, and I find all of them relatable. Maybe not in a specific detail kind of way, but in a general kind of way. I’m not a single mom struggling to care for her special needs child with no extra cash to even start to stock up on basics I may need. I’m not a new mom feeling isolated after building my routine around meeting up with friendly faces three times a week. I’m not the mom of a medically fragile child, panicked because people just can’t take this seriously.
I’m not these specific people. But I understand their struggles. Yesterday, I wrote a little post full of sass about how to survive. The sass hid the truth. This is not normal. It is not sustainable for our mental health. I need my friends and support system as much as anyone. And I need to support people just as much.
If you read this far, thank you. If you find that you just need to vent your fears, write them out here. You can post it anonymously, even we won’t be able to identify you. If you have some kind of resource I can link to that would help some of the people I listed above, shout them out. We will link anything that will help.
I’m not sure if I deserve a pat on the back or a really good nap, but either way I’m proud of me.
Since last Thursday, things seem to have just started to topple over completely within my family, and I’ve managed to keep it together and make sure that not only are those who need to be ok are ok, but that I am, too.
Yes, this is going to take a hot minute or months to take care of, but I didn’t lose it and I didn’t break!
I’m not sure if I deserve a pat on the back or a really good nap, but either way I’m proud of me.
Since last Thursday, things seem to have just started to topple over completely within my family, and I’ve managed to keep it together and make sure that not only are those who need to be okay are okay, but that I am, too.
Yes, this is going to take a hot minute or months to take care of, but I didn’t lose it and I didn’t break! I’m proud of that.
Now if I could only sleep.
I wrote the above about 2.5 weeks ago after my youngest got another medical diagnosis and something major happened that I can’t talk about yet. (Nothing to do with medical diagnosis.)
Then, once I got done what needed to be done, it seemed like the shit show appeared with spring break for the kids. I ended up in the ER for a severe migraine that met my IIH (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, which is high blood pressure on your brain, with brain and spinal fluid).
Every time I see the latest affront to human decency perpetrated by this administration and its dark legions of slavish devotees, I make a point of doing something kind for someone else. I practice kindness.
Anonymously, if possible.
Practicing kindness doesn’t have to be a big thing, or involve money, or even a lot of time. The point is not self-aggrandizement or warm fuzzies; the point is to pump an antidote and practice kindness to combat a pathological campaign of destruction, bigotry, and vile greed back into the body of this nation.
The point of practicing kindness is to actively resist an agenda that others women and minorities, strips hungry children of food, destroys families, and trades respect and decency for jingoistic greed and willful ignorance about our shared existence on this precious earth.
My kindness suggestions are always simple, but they are also effective:
Feed someone who’s hungry.
Help someone who’s struggling with work, their kids, with transportation.
Support artists, writers, and other creatives who are generating the beauty we need to combat fascist exploitation and dehumanization.
Refuse to leave unchallenged the propaganda and bigoted views you encounter on the daily, especially if they’re being used to actively attack, demean, or insult someone outside of the oligarchy’s CisHet Anglo Ubermensch paradigm.
Remember that you have far more in common with every day citizens of all races, sexual orientations, genders, and creeds than you will EVER have with a cadre of planet-crushing exploiters and fear-mongers eager to add more filthy lucre to the golden beds around which they coil like the dragons of old.
I used to agonize over who could possibly save us from this slide into brutish dystopian horror.
But I have come to realize that the light we need to banish the darkness comes from within each of us, and it is only by combining that light that we can combat the torrential flow of poison and bile.
So yes, absolutely call your elected officials. Definitely vote. Volunteer your time and resources to causes you care about. March, protest, resist.
But remember, too, the smallest acts; those tiny daily affirmations of our shared humanity, kindling a light to push back the dark.
I’m tired of being the only person in this marriage who can put a fucking piece of sausage in a ziplock bag when it is sitting right in front of my husband.
I’m tired of being the only person at work who can do a damn thing and getting bitched out or people bitching about me. Apparently I’m the only person out of 50 that can answer any question and then nobody listens to me. Oh, yeah, you’re in trouble because you did the thing I said you can’t do and it is still my fault? Fuck off.
I’m tired of being responsible and ordering my medications a few days before I am out. I’m tired of going in on the day after I take my last medication, and I’m tired of having them tell me to come back after 2:30, I’m tired to be told, oh, no, she didn’t do anything on this prescription, I’m tied of coming back tomorrow!!
I miss the days when I was young and not tired and didn’t give a fuck and would just go get drunk and tell the guy pissing me off to go to hell. I miss my old prescription for Ativan.
None of those things ever actually helped, but I could at least escape for a little while.
Posting here to The Band felt good. I encourage any of you out there to write for the site: doesn’t matter what. Click here
I see the elderly woman approaching us from across the mall. She is looking past me and at my children with that smile. My kids are at the perfect age to attract these smiles. They are just at the dawn of human interaction. Their speech is still garbled; their language and actions both aped from adults. They, in their search for the right phrase or movement, are often accidentally adorable.
Children at this age still act as if nobody is watching, and adults love them for it. We are drawn to this innocence, I think, for the same reason we are interested in the behaviors of chimps or sleepwalkers. We want to see what it is that people do when they don’t realize they have an audience. We want to see what we would do if we didn’t think so much.
She walks carefully and slowly over to accept the imaginary ice cream cone my son offers up and wins my heart by pretending to eat it. Taking the interaction a step further, she asks him which flavor it was. He tells her it’s chock-lick and her smile deepens with amusement. I am scanning her face, watching her the same way I watch the face of every stranger who approaches my children. I am waiting for the clues that all humans throw off.
I’m waiting to see why she’s doing this.
And so it is that I observe her lined face slip gradually from delight to despair. A line grows deeper across her forehead and her milky eyes fill with tears. Her painted smile is the last to go, proof in my mind that she didn’t even see the sadness coming until it was already written on the rest of her face. I realize that I am moving closer to her as her expression shifts, so that when the tears start to roll down her cheeks I am all but cradling her. She leans against me, frail yet adult-sized. I am not in the habit, anymore, of being needed by people who are not my children. It takes me a minute. I don’t know why she is crying. I only know what she needs. And I have it to give. So I hold her.
She wipes the tears away and catches her breath. “My husband of 49 years passed away 7 months ago. Seeing your children makes it hurt more. Even though they are beautiful. The holidays make it hurt more. Even though I love them.” I hold her tightly, softly offering my condolences. My son asks me why the old woman is crying, and I stumble for a second. I don’t lie to my children, but I don’t throw around words like “death” either. I tell him simply that this woman will not be able to celebrate Christmas with someone she loves.
As I say the words, my voice shakes and my own eyes fill unexpectedly. I close my eyes against the tears, while granting myself one full minute to be overwhelmed with this unforeseen grief. The woman catches me with my emotions and apologizes for making me sad. I shake my head: clearing it, emptying it. “The holidays can be hard,” is what I say as I help her right herself.
They told me back then that I needed to grieve my brother as though he were dead, but to expect the process to take longer, since he is not, in fact, dead. And although I am the type of person to tear at her flesh in hopes of getting the pain on the outside, in order to move past it, I am shocked to find that some days it is as if time has not moved at all for me.
The woman shuffles off in one direction as we continue in another. We meet up later, at the fountain, as I am explaining to my children the concept of wishing on thrown pennies. I have a wallet full of potential wishes, and so I do not need to accept those that the woman offers us. But I do accept because I sense that it will give her something to be able to give to us. I bend down, tuck my children in close. The woman steps in, and we all throw our pennies at the count of three.
You can’t wish for people to come back. It doesn’t work that way. Pennies can’t move mountains. A wish is only a goal, a direction in which to focus your thoughts. In my world, you can only reasonably wish for the things that you have some control over. So I toss my penny in and I hope, for all of us, that the future brings fewer and fewer moments when we are brought to our knees by our pain. We will carry it with us forever, and we should, because it makes us who we are and it honors where we’re from. But more and more we will be able to live with it.
The holidays can be hard. I have always known this. I push myself off my knees, smile at the old woman and grasp her hand for a minute before exchanging it for my daughter’s. We walk out into the cold air and breathe in the last few breaths of 2010. Soon there is chatter and laughter and bickering and sunshine against the cold. I rub my hands together for warmth, raising my face to the sun.