Two years. It’s been two years. And while it feels like life has been stuck in a holding pattern, it also feels as if a lifetime has passed. I’ve always been acutely aware of how fast time flies. I’ve always known the feeling of wanting to cling to the present like a fist full of sand that escapes your grasp as quickly as you desperately try to hold onto it. But I’ve never experienced the feeling of both time standing still and speeding forward simultaneously like I have in the past two years.
It feels as if our lives have been put on hold. It feels as if our lives have been changed completely. It is confusing at best.
When I look at the past two years I’m both saddened by and proud of the life that has been lived in between. We made the bold choice to pick up our family of five, drive across country during a global pandemic full of fear and desperate for some semblance of normalcy. We bought our first home. We got a dog…during the winter, in Upstate New York (ok, not our wisest decision – but she’s super cute when she isn’t barking or peeing on the floor).
And while we lived boldly, we also shrank our lives down.
We hid. We avoided. We lived in a constant simmering fear.
We covered our faces. We didn’t go out to dinner. We didn’t have playdates, dinner dates, parties or go anywhere there might be crowds.
My aunt passed away and I couldn’t even embrace my grandmother and relatives without intense panic and anxiety filling my mind and body as I sat through her remembrance in a doorway afraid of stepping inside.
It’s been two years.
And I’m tired.
We all are tired.
I’m sad for my youngest kids who know only this fear based life.
I’m sad for my oldest son who is desperate for the world to return to the way it was – a carefree childhood where he could touch and love and have zero regard for personal space as all kids should.
I look at my friends that have been able to throw caution to the wind and move forward returning to the things they enjoyed pre-pandemic: travel, going out, socializing, and I am full of envy.
As I sit here thinking about how the last two years have stood still while transporting me into some alternate life that feels more like a sci fi movie than reality, I can’t help but wonder…will it ever feel ‘normal’?
It’s ironic. I finally got to a point last week where I said, you know what…screw it. Let’s go out to dinner. Let’s go enjoy a nice meal as a family. We all dressed up. We hopped in the car and went to a local restaurant to eat dinner on a Saturday night.
I felt anxious as we waited in the crowded lobby for our table. I felt even more anxious when we took our masks off at the appropriately distanced tables. But we did it. And the kids loved it.
And then that night our youngest spiked a fever and started vomiting everywhere.
The next day she had an IV in her arm and a positive Covid test.
And here I am a week later, quarantined at home, our whole family Covid positive, thank goodness relatively mild, wondering where to go from here.
For someone like myself, who suffers from intense health anxiety, I can’t help but realize that the biggest casualty in my life for the past two years has been my mental health. I live in a constant state of worry. Never high enough to register needing to do something about, but like a slow leak in a dark corner of your basement or up in the attic that is slowly slowly creating irreparable damage to the structure of your home.
I don’t think I’ve realized how pervasive and constant the underlying fear has been. Every scary headline, story, conversation, cataloged in the back of my mind just simmering and subconsciously seeping into every decision I make.
My first reaction when I tested positive was nausea and fear…followed by relief. It was over.
Good, bad or ugly, the hiding, the fighting, the avoiding was over.
It’s funny, I’ve been binge watching the Anna Delvey limited series on Netflix, and I imagine, perhaps, at some point when she was ‘found out’, I bet there was some immense relief. A feeling that she could finally relax. Stop trying so hard. Stop putting on a show. Stop arranging every interaction so carefully with the constant threat of everything falling apart finally gone.
Now the question that remains is, how, do we move forward. How do we repair the YEARS of anxiety and fear based thinking. How do we recreate a life that is full. How do we help our kids see the world as a beautiful place full of hope and love and experiences instead of a bastion of germs and risk and fear.
I have no answers. But I am determined to find them. So for today, while it’s a ‘warm’ 28 degrees with sunshine, we will bundle up and soak up the sun, maybe shovel out the car in the driveway and make some plans for when we are free to co-mingle with the rest of the world.