Lockdown Life #2: How We’re Doing

Things I’ve learned and/or confirmed this week:

About myself

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  • I hate following a schedule. (I used to like building schedules, but never followed them. Now I hate the building part, too.)
  • Not having a schedule makes it hard to get through housebound days with two kiddies.
  • Trying to sit down to make a schedule triggers my perfectionism.
  • A bad schedule is better than no schedule, they say.
  • Speed is better than perfection, they also say.
  • There’s a difference between how I used to think of the word “crisis” most of the time and what a real “crisis” actually looks like. We’re there now — but does crisis exist on a spectrum? They say it will get worse before it gets better. What does a “worse crisis” than a crisis look like?
  • It’s time for me to shift from the “WTF IS EVEN HAPPENING” stage to the “Okay, let’s do our best” stage.

About co-parenting during social isolation

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  • When there are two parents in a situation like this, and one has to step into the role of caregiver while the other keeps working, now as sole breadwinner, it can be easy to think the other person has it better.
  • The breadwinner gets to keep their schedule more or less intact. They get to use their brains in the ways they like. They get more adult contact. They get peed on less. Their clothes are generally less caked in dried boogers.
  • The caregiver gets to spend all this bonus time with their babies. They aren’t missing these precious, fleeting moments of childhood because they happen to make the higher income, and therefore their job cannot be sacrificed in favour of childcare. They are apart from their spouse and kids all day, or all night, or all the time in the case of some emergency room workers.
  • The “breadwinner” gets too much kid-free time; the caregiver gets too little.
  • The breadwinner feels the pressure to keep the family afloat; the caregiver feels the pressure to keep the family alive.
  • I read somewhere that in order to have a happy marriage, you should each assume the other person is doing 70% of the work. There might be something to that, especially now.

About social anxiety during social distancing

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  • It used to feel uncomfortable to be out among people — like my presence was an inconvenience to them.
  • Now, it feels downright wrong.
  • There’s a microscopic elephant in the room, and we’re talking about it constantly in the social situations that remain (grocery store, pharmacy) in an abstract way, like commenting on the weather: “Can you believe how crazy this is? I can’t believe how crazy this is.”
  • But we aren’t really talking about what’s truly going on in (at least some of) our minds in the moments we’re near each other publicly: “I am terrified that one of us could get the other sick; I am terrified that you think I am sick and will give it to you; I am terrified that you think I’m being careless; I am terrified that you think I am being overly cautious; I am terrified you will take the essentials my family needs; I am terrified you will think I am being selfish and taking too much; I am terrified; are you terrified?”
  • As the generally non-socially-anxious public gets a taste of what it’s like to live with social anxiety — those of us with social anxiety feel the terror ratcheted up to suffocation.
  • Should we be bracing ourselves against developing full-blown agoraphobia?
  • What about those with health anxieties — those who were already perhaps uncharitably called “germaphobes”? Is a similar shift happening in their lives? Are we all a little germaphobic now, and they have been levelled up to their breaking point?

About life in uncertain times

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  • Positive and negative emotional states can coexist. It possible to feel:

Resentful and grateful

Trapped and blessed

Safe and terrified

Cranky and relieved

Affectionate and angry

Anxious and hopeful

Lucky and overwhelmed

  • It’s time to put all that we’ve learned about managing anxiety to the test. For ourselves, and in service to others.
  • For those of us who’ve benefited from therapy, we have a lot to offer others on how to manage anxious thoughts and live with uncertainty.
  • Maybe the way forward is to find a way to anxiously accept that unacceptable things are happening right now.
  • There’s not much certainty today, except the certainty that life is now more unpredictable than ever.
  • Let’s just take a deep breath and take comfort in knowing that we’re all uncomfortable together.

Maybe it’s about socially distant solidarity.

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