You will get through this.

So this is week…4 (I think?) of self-isolation.   The days blend in together.  I look through the news to see when this will all pass but there are no clear answers.  Lately though I’ve read small hints about the world starting to open up again and part of me is relieved to see that one day we’ll go back to “normal” but there is another part…and I’m a little ashamed to say it out loud…there is a small part of me that maybe I won’t ever be able to go back to normal again.

I’ve dealt with agoraphobia off and on my whole life so staying in the house for a week at a time isn’t hard for me.  I already hid from the mail man before this started.  I pretend to be on the phone when I see my neighbors so I have a reason to not panic and have awkward small talk with them.  And then it all lets up and suddenly it’s okay.  I can go out and talk to people again.  Not for long and if I have to be around people for more than a few hours I have to hide and recuperate for hours or even days afterward, but for the most part I look almost normal if you don’t look too close.

But this last month has been different.  In some ways it’s wonderful therapy…I suddenly crave people and the idea of going out to lunch seems like heaven.  In some ways this forced lock-down has given me time to take a deep breath and assess.  The self-distancing and social isolation in some ways came easy.  I’d been practicing for this my whole life, after all.   And I found that I became something new for friends I’d always relied on when I was low.  Those same friends and family were suddenly reaching out to me as they, sometimes for the first time, felt isolated and scared and numb.  They suddenly recognized anxiety and depression…though situational and temporary…and they didn’t know how to deal with it.  So I talk them through it as best I can.  And they get better.  And worse.  And better.

I suspect many of us are like this…sudden experts in dealing with constant fear and sadness and numbness and isolation.  Some of us even feel somehow better during this time.  It makes sense though.  With anxiety disorder you’re constantly afraid and feeling dread for something that isn’t real.  Now with something real to focus on it can be a sort of relief.  The rest of the world has joined us and the cognitive dissonance you feel for feeling so terrible when there’s no reason to feel terrible is gone.  Some of us use this time to recover.  Some see the rest of the world suddenly struggle and realize that this can bring empathy in some ways…both from the people who now see how exhausting it is to fear the unknown for so long, and from ourselves as we see that no one is immune to fear.

So I wait for the day when the world reopens and I have hope that it will be better, one day.  But part of me worries.  I worry that all this time at home has create a leash around me.  I worry that my agoraphobia will be worse and the world will go on without me.  Even now I want to go on a long drive just to see the world past my door but I can’t make myself.  The fear is already there.  I haven’t driven my car in a month.  I don’t even know if it would start.  I tell myself that it’s for the best because if I was in an accident I’d have to go to the hospital and be exposed to germs so I am doing the smart thing.  But deep down I know that it’s more than that.

It feels stupid to write about this.  About the fear of not being able to leave your house when you literally aren’t allowed to leave your house anyway, but still…it’s what’s going on in my head, and maybe it’s going on in yours too.  There’s something to be said about not being alone…even in isolation.

I remind myself that I have always escaped my broken brain before.  I have fought and I have won.  And then lost.  And then fought and won again.  It’s a cycle.  One that even those without mental illness can recognize.  We are all fighting.  And failing and thriving and barely surviving and then starting all over again.  I remind myself that I have tools to help and that when the time comes I will begin the forever-work of being human.  Just like you.  Just like all of us.

We will get through this.  This part and the next and the next.  And we’ll take what we’ve learned and use it.  And that’s how life continues.

PS. Every week of isolation I share one of my drawings that you can color or print or set on fire.  This one feels particularly fitting.

Keep fighting.  You are not alone.

Mandala with the words "I've burned for so long that all that remains is fireproof."
Click to embiggen.

Let me entertain you in the laziest way possible.

I don’t like to talk on the phone but I’m lonely so suddenly I am talking on the phone and the people I call are like, “I can’t believe you’re calling me.  You hate the phone.”  And I’m like, “I can’t believe you answered.  You hate the phone.” And then we agree that the world is weird and realize that we don’t really have anything to talk about because every day is groundhog day so instead I’ve started just sending people random instagram posts because this is my new love language.

So today I thought maybe you’d like to be on the receiving end what it’s like to get a series of texts from me that are all just weird instagrams and memes.

ENJOY!

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Welcome to real lfe VR

A post shared by 𝐓 𝐔 𝐌 𝐁 𝐋 𝐑 textposts (@boxoftumblr) on

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I see no problem here

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how to summon a lemon

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Victor and I have been working on this one. So far we’ve figured out 14 of them:

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How didn’t she notice is my question ❄️

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https://www.instagram.com/p/B-QDZhEBjtm/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-Zvs7tnMvi/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-ZnSkhgj0X/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-X6zmZp-KM/

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Cat not playing 😂 ( via: @authentically__ewe )

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https://www.instagram.com/p/B9XjKScjt-8/

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The wiggles kinda slapped though

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😂😂 Caption this!☺️ 🙋Tag a friend 🤗 ———————————————— Follow @wild_animalsgram for more 👍 ———————————————— 📸from  @raccoons_mark.nusha ———————————————— #raccoon  #conservation #wildliferehab #wildlifephotography #global4nature #wildlife_inspired #animalsofinstagram #wildlifeconservation #wildlifeartist #wildlifeofaustralia #animals #africa #animalpolis #wildlifeowners #wildlife_perfection #animalsaddict #wildlifeonearth #igswildlife #wildlife #wildlifetrust #wildlifephotos #wildlifeprotection #ig_africa #majestic_wildlife_ #wildliferefuge #wildlife_supreme #naturephotography #igs_africa #wildlifeplanet #wildlifesafari

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Is this the laziest post ever? Probably. But it still made me smile. I hope it made you smile too.

Things we fought about during the pandemic

Week 3…4? of being home alone with the family makes me very grateful that I’m with them while also wanting to strangle them a lot.  I suspect I’m not alone so today I’m sharing a list of things we fought about in the last 48 hours.

THINGS WE FOUGHT ABOUT DURING THE PANDEMIC:

Where everything goes in the kitchen.

The best place to clip fingernails.

How to stack things in the dishwasher.

How to stack things in the pantry.

How to stack things in the refrigerator.

Whether expired food is still okay to eat.

Whether waking up at 11am is self-sabotage or self-care.

Whether Hunter S. Thomcat needs a kitten.

Whether the dog likes being dressed up as my tiny coworker.

Whether the eggs Victor made taste like dish soap.

Whether I appreciate that he made eggs even if they taste like dish soap.

Whether to leave all the cabinet doors open so we don’t have to touch the handles.

Whether to watch The Breakfast Club or 15 episodes of 90-Day-Fiance in a row.

Whether to clean the garage or just leave it because who needs that extra stress right now.

Whether to put Xmas decoration in the attic or just leave them in the garage because we’re totally not going to get them out again if I have to go up a ladder for them.

Whether to spray lysol on packages before opening them or to save the lysol and just wash our hands really well.

Whether to leave the pantry door open so the cats don’t accidentally get locked in there or leave the pantry shut so the cats don’t get in there at all.

Whether I l constantly leave all the lights on when I go to bed or whether Victor turns them all on while sleepwalking.

Whether I can give the dog an extreme haircut because I bet she wants something new.

Whether to lure the squirrel that lives in the backyard (Squirrely Temple) into the house to live with us until the hawk in the backyards goes away.

Whether Hailey should do her schoolwork at the table or in her room.

Whether it’s okay for me to start small, controlled fires in the backyard.

Whether to use all this time do boring businessy stuff or make new outfits for taxidermied animals.

Whether it’s acceptable to turn the living room into a temporary art studio if I put bed sheets on the floor as tarps first.

Whether it’s okay to drip paint on the floor of the garage which is already ruined anyway.

Whether I should start a garden even though I kill everything and also don’t have any supplies and can’t get them.

What the dog is currently thinking about.

What to add to this list.

****

Your turn.  What are you arguing about?

 

 

I made something for you because you are special and because the world is so weird right now.

So this is week 3 of isolation and every week I’m sharing a drawing for you to print out and color or burn or ignore or tape to the door of a stranger so that they don’t know if it’s a compliment or a very strange threat.  Anyway, it’s yours.

drawing of a path leading to a home with "every day, she said, I make my twisted way home" written underneath
Click to embiggen

And now I’m asking you for something.  Today is my sister’s birthday and while she’s still feeling much better than the super-scary-can’t-breathe-sweating-to-death days she’s still sick and that means that she is STILL locked in her room away from her family and today is her birthday.  So if you have a funny joke or a nice story or something lovely happened or you found a great thing to binge watch then share it in the comments for her?

Happy birthday, Lisa.  You are the best and for your birthday I think you should lure a bunch of moths in your room and make them your new birthday squad.  I did that yesterday but then the cats murdered them.  They were really happy though.  The cats, I mean.  I’m going to stop talking now.  Happy birthday.  We love you.

And now…time for the weekly wrap-up:

********

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by StoryWorth, who I love desperately.  From them:” These days it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with your loved ones. If your phone calls with family are starting to sound repetitive, StoryWorth is a great way to prompt meaningful conversations. Once a week for a year, they’ll receive an email with a question about their life. All they have to do is reply with a story, which is forwarded to you and any other family members you invite. After a year, their stories are bound in a beautiful keepsake book your family will cherish!”  For real, I’ve done it for both my parents and it is fantastic.  Plus it’s a really good distraction.  Click here and you’ll get $10 off.  

This is not easy. Give yourself credit.

Tonight makes three weeks since I’ve seen anyone I know in real life other than Victor and Hailey.  I’m not alone in this.  My sister is still relegated to her bedroom after close to two weeks (she’s doing so much better though, thank God) so compared to her I’m lucky.  And compared to the people who have no choice but to expose themselves to help others or themselves she’s lucky.  But knowing that others are suffering more doesn’t really make it easier for anyone.

I see so many people struggling with working from home and trying to suddenly homeschool their kids and I see other people who have their shit together and are giving advice about how to get through this like a badass but here’s the honest truth:  I work from home.  So does Victor.  Hailey goes to online high school.  I am near reclusive at times.  But even for us?  This shit is hard.  It’s hard to concentrate.  It’s hard to prioritize.  It’s hard to finish deadlines and not feel stressed out and have cabin fever and feel like you don’t know what the shit you are doing while everyone else seems to be doing 10 zoom meetings a day and creating a home gym and learning three new languages while doing perfect yoga and making homemade jam.

But I suspect that most of us are just getting by…just watching this slow-moving crisis and surviving and trying to make the right decisions even when it’s hard as hell.  We get mad at others who are not doing their part.  We get mad when others aren’t aware of what we’re going through.  We break apart and cry and worry about so many things at once that eventually we just freeze up and refresh the internet a million times and yell at people we love because we’re worried about them and can’t keep them safe and feel helpless.

I know it’s not like this for everyone.  Some people have it easier or care less.  Some people have it harder and feel desperate.  But I think a lot of us are stuck right here…in that still but strange paralysis…waiting for it to get better…waiting for it to get worse.  Waiting for it to be over somehow.

I don’t know what the future holds.  But I do know this.  We will do our best.  We will falter.  We will struggle.  We will help others and be helped ourselves.  We will become stronger together by surviving this.  We will deal with the damage and mourn people and places and events and moments that we took for granted would arrive but won’t.  We will emerge with new stories and new memories and new tools and very different perspectives…and there is the potential for so much good.  I see family members and friend who struggle, but still push forward.  I see people I love make terrible sacrifices to care for strangers and each other.  I see strangers become heroes.  I see assholes, yes, but frankly if we’re being honest, most of those people were assholes before.  But mostly I see us.  We fight in strange ways and we hope and we reach out and we try to help.  We grow.  We make mistakes.  We learn.  We remind ourselves that we don’t know everyone’s story and try not to judge.  We hold the people we do know accountable even if it’s awkward.   We survive the day, and even when it’s just binge-watching tv all day with the cat that can be a victory.  This time is painful, I know.  But don’t short-change your victories and actions in this fight.  If you can find small ways to make this experience life-changing or rewarding you totally should.  But if you can’t, THAT IS TOTALLY FINE TOO.  

Remember that you are not alone.  Even when you feel it.  The quiet of the streets and the closing of the doors is a sign that people care.  It is a huge and incredibly quiet revolution of sorts…of people stopping the world to protect others.  Who would have ever thought so many people around the globe could work together to protect the most vulnerable amongst us?  And as painful as it is to live through it, I’m glad to be able to witness it.

I hope you are too.

I am sending you love tonight.  And I know maybe you can’t feel it but I’m there. We all are.  You can hear us in the silence and see us in the twinkling window lights at midnight.  We’re here.

The votes are in…

Okay…the votes are in and thousands of you have made it clear that 1. we’re all a bit bored and in need of distractions at the minute and that 2. my taxidermied llama/alpaca (that died of natural causes, I assure you) clearly had one name rise to the top during our voting period.

Introducing…

llama wearing pink, standing next to reese witherspoon wearing pink

FLEECE WITHERSPOON.

PS. Tomorrow at 2pm (central) I’m taking over the Mom2summit instagram page because they asked me to do a quick livestream talking about how I deal with writer’s block and I didn’t know how to do that so I just tried it on my instagram and then 1,000 people accidentally showed up and so I did a tour of my taxidermy.  It’s on my instagram, I think?  Not sure how long it stays up before it disappears but if you want to see it and my messy house and ridiculous pets I think it’s somewhere?  I suck at technology and instagram is purposely confusing.  Sorry.

PPS. Special thanks to everyone who suggested names and voted and to @finn_viqueen who I believe first suggested “Fleece Witherspool”.  🙂

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