When Life During the Pandemic Feels Like Time Is Standing Still
It feels like that, doesn’t it? Like time has simply decided to stand still, or move at a slow-motion pace that almost feels like backwards. You don’t know what day it is. You don’t really have any concept of time. Morning can be treated as night — think dinner leftovers for breakfast before your 100th Zoom meeting begins. Your life just feels like this hamster wheel. You really have no motivation to get from Point A to Point B because Point C looks just like Point A to you. Nothing moves, yet everything still does at a frightening pace.
It feels like that for many of us when we talk and think about COVID-19, and it feels like that when we discuss police brutality in this country. We are stuck in this endless loop of violence and illness that can honestly feel overwhelming and almost apocalyptic. Day after day we are expected to make space in our hearts and our minds for this. There is no avoiding it, there is only processing it if you care about the human race.
That’s why, in my experience, you have to move time. Claim space that brings you joy. Dance and love. Cook with your friends (virtually of course) and surprise them with Facetime calls. Tell people you love them but more importantly, show them. Words can sometimes fall into the void, even if you scream your love from the highest rooftops. Make sure people know you love them because sometimes that is the only weapon they have to bring to any battle they will have to fight, and they’ll wield it mightily. When the world turns right side up, they will thank you for being there when no one else was, for listening when their whispers were swallowed in tears, for just checking.
As a disabled person, this has been complete hell. In the beginning of all of this my world stopped more than once — when my sister caught COVID-19 and when the medicine I use to fight lupus every day was being lauded as the cure and supplies ran dry, quickly. I messaged my sister daily, even though I knew it would disrupt her sleep. I had to check, to know. When the medicine situation started, I scrambled to check if I had refills, called my pharmacist and hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t be one of the ones denied my prescription because a rumor started. It became a different kind of hell, trying to keep the virus out of my house and away from my family (since two of the medicines I take render me immunocompromised), and trying to stay alive (mentally, emotionally, and physically). With already stressed organs, the mental stress didn’t help and I spent most of the first weeks of quarantine in a complete whirl of panic.
Meditating during this time was starting to help, but suddenly that faded too, as the memories of the footage of violence we had witnessed played over in my head, as I wondered how we could still be demanding justice for things that happened so long ago and are still happening this very minute. It became really difficult when a march happened in my neighborhood and things happened here with people I stand shoulder to shoulder with, and it feels like I don’t know anyone anymore. What could I do? There was no way to simply snap myself out of it, as if I had a magic nose and I could wiggle it to fix all that ails myself and the world.
I don’t. I tried.
The truth was I didn’t know how to do it without losing all of the tears left in my body.
Then it happened. A single moment when I just realized my mind, heart and body do not deserve to be in that space anymore. I moved time. I claimed space. Space that was rightfully mine to claim. I claimed space in my heart and mind that needed healing, and wandered through them fixing the pieces that felt a little too tattered. I claimed space in my life by giving myself the silence I needed to create, to listen to the music I love that brings joy, and to let myself enjoy the laughter I need that brings light. I started dancing every day, even if I am in pain and in bed — I move my arms, I sing, I clap, I relive memories that make me happy. I claim my space to live — now — and to demand a place to make those memories again.
Maybe the reality of all that is still happening in the world doesn’t allow you to do that for yourself at this time. That is understandable. Day after day the world seems to be upside down and never right side up.
But maybe thinking that the space you have is yours will help you to take it back. To right your world and help you fight all the battles ahead.
Getty image by 8213Erika.