Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are the 5 stages of loss, and I can say that I have definitely gone through all of these (I’m currently in stage 5) during #stayathome2020.
In early March, I was very much in denial. I watched the news and was pretty sure it would all blow over. Our administration asked for superficial ways to deal with the possibility of remote learning, but the requests were half-hearted. And our janitorial crew jokingly gave us “professional development” on how best to clean our classrooms – spray the counters with disinfectant, wait one minute, and wipe down. We actually had to sign a paper saying we’d been through this training.
Things got a little more serious for us mid-March, and we were warned that school could be shut down for a couple of weeks…so we should get some lessons ready and be prepared to train our students how best to access them. I was ready for this prospect, and when March 13 hit, we told the kids we’d be giving them everything they needed the following Monday. The problem was, Monday didn’t happen. Schools were shut down before Friday even ended, and I spent the final hour of the day trying to control the chaos…some kids laughing and celebrating, others crying, and many just plain stressed and confused. It was one fucking awesome Friday the 13th.
I spent the next couple of weeks fuming, because our district wouldn’t let us offer any kind of instruction to any students because “equity.” They talked and talked and talked and finally came up with an unstellar plan to begin slowly offering some optional “experiences” to students. I don’t want to get into any arguments about whether and what students should be or shouldn’t be doing right now (I have my opinions…and I’ll keep them to myself, as this just isn’t the forum – let’s all respect that, shall we?).
I then began bargaining my way into a “new normal” and a “workable routine” for myself and our son.
But then…it just kept going. And that “workable routine” was not “normal” and it was not sustainable. Being trapped at home, pushed into nearly re-inventing what I do, listening to the news (there was a minor shit storm in the sex-blogging community, as well), and succumbing to boredom, I dropped.
However, because I am such a functional depressive, I managed to keep getting up and zombie-walking my way through each day…checking off all the things and keeping up my “workable routine.”
I’m so functional at this depression thing that sometimes I don’t even realize I’m experiencing it until days or weeks in. I just slowly stop doing things. I stop wanting to read. I stop wanting to write. I stop wanting to talk about it. I just stop.
I still get up. I still work. I still take care of the things.
But, I don’t enjoy any of it.
And I stop wanting to have sex. I don’t even masturbate.
As some of you know, I love to track things…and sex and masturbation are no exceptions. Some time ago, I wrote about an app that I use to track this. And I can tell you, the stats are less than stellar…in fact, they’re worrisome.
Mr. D and I have been struggling since the end of last year…oh who am I kidding – we’ve been struggling with this sex issue since 2007. But for the purposes of this conversation, let’s focus on recent issues. I began tracking using this app in December because I wanted to be more mindful about initiation and build an awareness about some of our/my patterns.
I started tracking on December 14th. Here’re the stats:
Month # of times we had sex # of times I masturbated
Dec 5 6
Jan 2 8
Feb 6 6
Mar 6 7
Apr 4 9
May 0 1
Yeah…a big drop off right there at the end, eh? I mean, we already struggle, and there it goes – completely non-existent. And so I had to think…why? Right? But then it hit me (and not just because I need a convenient explanation or excuse). I’m stressed to the max…bored out of my mind…I’ve stopped doing things I love…I’m not working out…I’m feeling shitty about myself because I should have all this time to do the things I should.
I hate that fucking word…because it weighs on me like an anvil. Because I let it.
So here we are, on the other side of it…and I’m just beginning find the positive again. I guess this is what we call acceptance, knowing there is little I can do to change the current circumstance – but there is a lot I can do to change my reaction to it.
My “workable routine” has shifted quite a bit, and still needs some revision before it suits everyone inside this box we call a home (which has suddenly pretty much become our whole world). I’m finding that I need more white space…that I need to get my ass out of bed and actually fucking work out (because even though it’s hard, I actually feel better about everything about 10 minutes in). I need to take breaks. I need to work smarter, for fewer hours. I need to get outside. I need to connect with my people.
Our relationship issues are not new. Our sex issues are not new. My depression, anxiety, stress, and workaholic issues are not new. But put all of those in the pressure cooker that is #coronaviruslockdown…and suddenly we are a ticking fucking time bomb.
And it blew.
It blew up all over the fucking place.
So now I’m picking up the pieces and putting them back together. I re-worked my “routine” – reconsidering what I am truly capable of accomplishing in any given day. And I am very slowly asking myself to delve in and question the choices I have been making.
Things aren’t likely to change much for us anytime soon. We have a month until school is out, and even when it’s over, I’m going to be thinking ahead to how I’ll make it through next year, which will likely be similar to the end of this one. It’s not optimal. It’s not fair. But it is what it is, and I have not control over it.
I do, however, have control over how I lead the rest of the parts of my life. And actually, that matters more. It always has. For some reason (it’s a no-brainer actually), I spend a lot more time focusing on the things I feel like I can control (work, chores and house projects) than the things I feel are out of my control.
That need for control is toxic. Especially since it’s a false sense of control, at best. Everything is always on the cusp of chaos, and the anxiety that causes me is purely of my own making. My obsession with it is what causes me stress…and the stress leads to exhaustion and frustration…and that leads to the fall.
Why can’t I fucking submit? Life would be so much easier if I could just fucking let go.
And that is as far as I can go tonight. I’ve hit a wall…but at least I’m here.
I’m here. That’s step one.