I will never forget the moment I heard health officials instruct the public to practice Social distancing.
We were instructed to stay home, avoid crowds and distance ourselves from people outside our nuclear family. Then, one by one everything began to shut down. In a world where the distance between humans grows wider and wider each day with the strong influence of social media, we were now being instructed to stay home and I was not prepared for that. Was anyone?
Who could have predicted that one day during our lifetime we would be faced with a pandemic that would cause fear to spread across the globe and force people to break the social connection amongst others that is essential for a human’s well being. That was essential for my well being. Who could have predicted that as a mother, I would have to tell my children we couldn’t go to school anymore, play outside with our neighbors and friends or see our family because of a potentially dangerous virus.
Who could have prepared us for a sudden onset of loneliness and isolation? I didn’t have the answers.
Growing up in a large family, I was never ‘alone’ always surrounded by people, so I never thought I knew how it felt to feel lonely and always tried to help those so called ‘introverts’ that said they were happier alone because in my mind, how could that even be possible? It took a few weeks into quarantine to accept the fact that I was a person that thrived on socialization. The fact that one could be in a room full of people and still feel lonely. How could that be?
The first few weeks, there were many nights I would go to sleep mad at myself for feeling this way. I would lie in bed and talk to myself, angry that I was unable to find strength to inspire others and I was the one that needed help. With a roof over our head, plenty of food, our health, we have it all, I told myself. Yet, why did I desire more?
How could I feel lonely when everything I had ever wanted and the people I loved most in this world were right under the same roof?
It took weeks of self-reflection to realize that a feeling of disconnect and change in routine was the root cause of my feeling of loneliness. I wasn’t alone, though I still felt a longing for social interaction and my routine which I had become so accustomed to.
Rather than allow my weakness to get the best of me I looked for distractions to lift my spirits.
I reactivated an old cooking page I used to have, started to working out daily and invested more time in just being mom.
For the first time in years, I said my job could wait and I had to work on myself. If that meant me falling behind for a few weeks to save my mental sanity then so be it. That helped. It was the bandage to a wound that would eventually heal once I adapted to the new normal.
I have now become used to a different routine. One of staying home more, working on myself and my short comings and learning how to be ok with slowing down.
I recognized a problem and set out to fix it by refocusing my attention and energy on things and people I knew I could help because helping others gave me back my personal strength.