Living in constant lockdown
There are stretches of life that prove to be straightforward and uncomplicated, and then there are times that take everything we have to get through. The last eleven months of my life have been the latter, and that after a few years that already were challenging. I have taken a deep breath and tried to put into words what I’ve learned from catching Covid and then experiencing the long term effects such as ongoing symptoms and fatigue to such a degree that I’ve only left my house to go to appointments or for super short visits to the beach or river. The pandemic has taken its toll on us all, but being housebound has given me a glimpse of what it’s like to live with chronic illness and nonstop lockdown circumstances.
Easier but unfamiliar circumstances
As my body is healing slowly, it has become easier to live in these circumstances, and now is not nearly as difficult as when my body was still so impacted by the virus. Some symptoms are persistent though, like breathing difficulty, a productive cough and a confused heart rate pattern, that sometimes leave my arms and legs with a feeling of pins and needles and an adrenaline rush moving around my body, even though, what I did was walking up and down the stairs and maybe lifting a big tub of chicken soup to put it in the fridge. For eleven months I haven’t been able to play games with my children, clean my house, tidy the needed corners, or go for a good walk outside. And of course the pandemic has meant that no one can visit, other than my support bubble and my cleaning help (which are both amazing!).
Controlling the emotional rollercoaster
My symptoms have at times been hard to make sense of, and the physical journey has turned into an emotional rollercoaster ride, in an eternal never ending spiral, where your direction of travel is decided, day by day, hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute, all according to the choices you make at that particular time. Choices mostly related to how to respond to yet a challenging sensation or experience in the micro universe that your life has become. What can I say, do or decide in order to come back to myself – in order to make the most of life, just as it is right now, for myself, but certainly also for my children. I’m glad to say that at this point of writing I find myself in a better place, where despite not being back to my normal self, I can now move around in my home, go for a super short walk to the back of my house and take in the distraction of books, tv and music. What a blessing.
Life worth and self worth
The weeks and months of just being in my own company, some with children around who of course offer distraction whether asked for or not, and sometimes completely alone, really had me challenged to dig even deeper, in terms of finding a life worth living, not just for my children, but also for me. Despite being bed bound I’ve used the habit of low keys self care, mostly the ones directly related to changing my thought patterns, like the awareness process, but also the tools of looking at beautiful things and using essential oils to help change my moods, music and meditation and breathing exercises. And I’ve had ongoing emotional support, which has been essential. These are things I used already in my life. Despite these beautiful tools, I reached a crunchy point, though, where my situation was so different from my normal life, and I spent so much time alone, that I couldn’t keep new and old grief at bay, and my whole identity was questioned from within.
Especially the areas of motherhood, self worth, being a friend and being part of society were so challenged, because I could not go about my normal ways.
Doing versus being
In all the roles we take on in life there is a being and a doing part, and even if it wasn’t news as such for me, it became so clear to me, that the doing part was such a big part of how I took on these roles in life, helping friends, doing things for my children, being the one calling and arranging. The doing part is where I got my worth, even if this might not be true for my friends and people around me, and as a mother, not showing my children I love them by being able to make a beautiful plate of food or help them tidy their room, or make popcorn or similar, wow, it really dawned on me, how much importance I put on these things. It made me fearful not being able to do what I normally do, whether in my relationship to my children, my friends or the broader groups I’m part of. And yes, I have had so many fewer interactions with people, but once I worked through the fear and the grief, the allowing for being rather than doing has opened up for new aspects of my life.
Being as the cornerstone of all relationships
I have been lucky to have friends and family who have kept checking in, and I’m so grateful for them, and my ex has been an invaluable support in catering for my needs and cooking for us. And with my children, I’ve been so moved to see how they stepped up and also grew – from me, though involuntary, giving them space to show me what they’re capable of. And I’ve really experienced for the first time in my life, how my being is the cornerstone of all relationships, including with my children. This doesn’t mean that we don’t miss the times when I was well and could do more things, but it has opened my eyes for an inner freedom in not having to do something in order to be worthy, something that before was an intellectual rather than heart based knowledge for me.
A false sense of security or unconditional receiving
I have a survival mechanism that I have relied on throughout my life. Not depending on others and knowing that in the end I could physically and emotionally look after myself, has been how I’ve created a false safety for myself. Being ill the way I have the last eleven month has brought so much fear around having to be dependent, as I have been bedridden for a lot of the time, and not able to carry things. Ordinary things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing up, moving a pile of books from one counter to the other have been impossible tasks for many months on end. I really have not been able to live life without the support from people around me. It has been a most humbling and valuable experience, especially since the claustrophobia around being so physically restricted has left, and I’ve developed the ability to receive unconditionally. The questions “can you receive without having to return the favour” and “can you receive without being a burden” have been two really big topics on my mind, throughout the last year. And the answers are “Yes!” to both. This has been a big revelation to me. And I am also happy to report that as I’m writing this I have improved enough to take care of some smaller tasks myself.
Faith and my inner child
It is certainly also true that these last eleven months have felt more lonely at times, than I ever have. The feeling of being stuck, not able to move when I needed distraction from my inner world, has been extremely overwhelming at times. And it’s also true that every time a symptom has subsided it’s been easier to accept the situation. I did reach a time, where my low key self care approach didn’t quite cut it, and I needed to really look deep inside to see how I could propel my inner peace and acceptance of the situation. And I thought back to when I was a child, where I fully enjoyed my own company and where I also had a certain spiritual faith, which I had let go off throughout my journey in life. My way through this illness has been to also allow myself to connect to that quirky undoubting child. Faith is such a personal thing, but I do believe we all have an inner core we can connect to, even though it’s not an easy or straightforward road always. While I’m still not in a place where I’m totally grateful for these last eleven months, looking back like this, I can say that it’s taught me a lot, and in some ways brought my life to full circle, and I guess that that’s not too bad, after all.
Sending you strength
I’m aware that so many of us are going through challenging times that sometimes feel too hard to bear. This last year I have reached out to friends and family more than I normally would. I have also called the Samaritans several times, when I felt particularly upset some evenings. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to people around you for support if you are in a hard place. You will find out who has enough energy at that particular time to support you. When I felt the most challenged that’s the number one thing that helped me through. I’m sending strength to you all in these times.
© Tine Landy 2021
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