Quarantine: Month 2

Posted: May 19, 2020 in real life
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This pandemic is going to change everything. That goes without saying. Globally, that is a given, at least in the short term until history wears the ridges down smooth. But it is reshaping my life personally. Beyond the ways it will impact my children and the literal experiences of quarantine, more than the surface changes and logistics, I can feel it undermining deeper, rippling farther into me and into my life.

These events and situations are bringing out the worst traits in people, myself very much included. So much ugly and unsavory is rising out of people I know, people I love, exposing and highlighting things I didn’t see or chose to ignore. Confronting those realities upsets me, leaves me questioning which relationships I want to maintain and return to on the other side of this and which might be best left to wither in isolation.

I understand the psychology and the sociology of it. I can see what fear is doing to people just as I am aware of what fear is doing to me. Yet understanding the dynamic doesn’t make what it exposes less unappealing.

The pandemic definitely surprised me. Maybe it shouldn’t have, but the response definitely has not. How governments, people en masse, or my people close to me have reacted is not unexpected. I am not surprised at all… I am just disappointed. Disappointed to my core. We can do better. We can be better. And I must be clinging to some kind of hope because my resistance to the reality is infuriating at times.

I honestly do not know what the hell I am doing–with any of this. I feel lost and just wrong most of the time. I am just guessing wildly and winging it, hoping I am not fucking it all up. More, I’m just holding back and playing it safe, waiting because I don’t know, holding my breath because we have high risk in our house and I’m unwilling to gamble with it.

My mind runs rampant over the possibilities, swims and drowns in the “what ifs” and “maybes.” One minute, we need to stay in strictest quarantine to keep our high risk out of the hospital; the next, I’m just being a paranoid hermit, and we need to go out again. One minute, we are just going to be home watching TV and ordering carryout for a few months; the next, it’s something so much bigger. One minute, infection is inevitable and necessary for herd immunity; the next, we have to avoid everyone to not catch it. One minute, the state is coming out of lockdown too early; the next, lockdown isn’t the right approach.

Am I crazy and paranoid for being so cautious or are so many people crazy and careless for being so cavalier? We won’t know until it’s all over. But we play it safe because we don’t get to take it back, and it’s not just about us, and we don’t want to do hospitalizations again.

My mind whirls so wildly that I lose all orientation and forget my instincts. I am constantly having to sort through the wreckage in my head (generally caused by exposure to stupidity on the internet or unpleasant interactions with loved ones) to unearth myself again. I always find the same thing and wonder how the fuck I keep losing it.

Reeling. I think we’re all just reeling. Posting articles and memes about how we should be dealing with and coming out of lockdown when we don’t even know what it means or how it will go yet. Talking about reaching a peak we won’t be able to identify until it is far behind us. We are all just desperate to quantify what hasn’t even finished happening yet. The situation is big and unknown and terrifying, so we all want to scramble to the other side and look back on it, but we are not there yet.

We don’t know where we are yet. Beginning, middle… I just have to take it one day at a time slowly and remind myself that this too shall pass. Right now, I have that luxury and will take it. If I think much beyond that, I might go into that rabbit hole in my mind again.

 

If we are honest with ourselves, none of us know what we are doing. We have educated guesses and informed hypotheses. We can look to the past with the Spanish flu or other pandemics and we can build numerous varied data models, but we do not know how this will play out, what will happen. In that shared blindness, we are all truly together.

This pandemic/quarantine experience is definitely amplified for me by being a parent. It would be different if it was just me or just me and my partner. My children change everything for me.

Risk and hardship were different when we did not have children. If it was just us and we got sick or died, that would be one (awful) thing, even with high risk in the equation. However, with the kids, if any of us got sick or died, it would become a whole other thing with so many more repercussions. Just like we would have bought a house we loved in one neighborhood if it was just us but never with children, the considerations are just different. Everything is more complicated with them, for better and worse. He and I have done hospitalizations and situations that could have killed us before, but their young fear and confusion adds something else.

Beyond the constant, smothering extra layer of worry I harbor for them through all this, they look to me. For information. For example. For an indication of how to act and react. In situations like these, the degree of transparency I share with my children can easily turn ugly. Not that I will turn away to hide now, it just makes things challenging to bare some of the hard truth for them.

My children went from an extended family and a “commune” and teachers (in school and activities) and friends and acquaintances to being encapsulated in only the family unit. While the family is benefiting, recovering from some neglect that came from so much so fast, there are also such huge, gaping voids. There are roles and influences that we simply cannot fill within these walls or on the flat screen of a Zoom call. There are things lost in these formative times for them.

Right now, I am so glad I have more than one child. Just as our family has this time to be together as schedules did not previously allow, quarantine is creating even more sibling time for my children. I watch them bond, relating the way only siblings (biological or not) sharing a life can, solidifying a relationship through entangled, bizarre experience. I think about the way going through this, whatever it may turn out to be ultimately, together will mean to them and their relationship.

I would not want my children to have to survive my floundering and shortcomings through this pandemic stuck in this house alone. I did not want them to have to survive me (and their father) alone in life in general, which is one major reason we have more than one child. In this moment as a parent, I am so grateful it is not just me. I am glad to spread the burden and influence between myself and their father and sibling, to shoulder it all together. I am not enough. Sometimes, even with other contributions and help, I feel like I am not enough as a mother.

As I said, I have no fucking idea what I’m doing. And maybe it’s better that my kids know that. Maybe it’s better that they know that we never have any idea what we’re doing, that we’re all fumbling our way through life and making a spectacular mess of it along the way, hoping for the best. Or maybe that will only scare the shit out of them and compound their trauma. To no surprise, I have no idea. Like all things in this pandemic (and predating it), I am just winging it here. Doing my best, crossing my fingers, and toasting the hope with my wine (of which I am drinking more of locked in these walls).

Christina Bergling

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Comments
  1. Paul Duenas says:

    Not a surprise that your piece is so very well written. I think your mind tumbles about, precisely because you write, and although your physical person may not go down that rabbit hole, your mind certainly does. It can’t be helped, because as a creative person, you naturally expand your thinking beyond just the safe and mundane. What is important is clearly the safety of your family, and as reasoned as it is to worry about your partner and children, always remember that they worry about you as well. I hope that young your family are well, and continue to do well and stay healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Still I wonder what has happened to us in our rush to selfishness…Sure we all have fear and stress, but exactly how treating each other with disregard and in some cases disgust and hostility makes things better is beyond me. These days I find the more optimistic I try to be, the more the Life-Trolls come bearing clubs. I feel my own stress rising to sometimes what feels like intolerable levels… Yet don’t want to become the kind of drama-brat I see rising around me. Like zombies. Thank heaven for those we can embrace in the storm, the ones we can use actual words with… Thank heaven for people like you who can express that in so eloquent a manner…And thank you for talking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve put it so well Christina, we’re all just reeling. And your well written and heartfelt article speaks for so many of us; the stress from fear and uncertainty, and all things lost due to this pandemic is just too much. It’s paralyzing, yet we have to hope that this too shall pass, sooner or later. And we can try to reassemble, rebuild our lives in some way, after it all.

    And looking on the bright side, it’s going to be interesting to see what horror stories writers like yourself will come up with. Wishing you and your family a peaceful and safe summer season!

    Like

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