Why Life Still Feels So Hard Right Now
Back when the world shut down in mid-March, I wrote a piece about how I – even as an introvert – was feeling kinda lonely. Little did I know it would get worse. Much worse.
But before I do, I feel like I need to say up front that yes, I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful for my family. I have an amazing husband and some awesomely well-adjusted sons who, despite getting on my nerves sometimes, are my favorite people in the world. I’m privileged to have a comfortable home and a job I can do from home and close friends who keep me sane and grounded. So yes, I’m grateful and fortunate and all that.
And I am still pissed AF and lonely as hell.
All that we’re-in-this-togetherness from the early pandemic days vanished into the ether. The mantra these days seems to be every person for themselves. There’s a ton of shouting and a lot of judgment and a shit ton of confusion and second-guessing. If I say I’m keeping my kids home for school or I don’t let them ride in a car with another family, am I being judged as too “strict” or “paranoid”? Conversely, if I let my kid ride bikes with his friends or we go to a small, backyard socially distanced barbeque, am I being judged by others for being too “risky”? It never ends, and it comes from all sides – even myself.
Yes, that’s right. Because I second guess nearly every decision, major and minor, all damn day. Do I need a mask if I’m talking to a neighbor over the fence? Should I order groceries online, or make a quick trip to the store? Can I trust my teen to wear his mask? Am I being a helicopter parent if I “spy” on him to make sure? It’s relentless.
Regardless of where you stand in all of this, it feels impossible to find someone who is truly on the same page as you. And no, I’m not talking about anti-maskers. That is something else entirely. Even among those of us who are taking the virus seriously and taking precautions, we all have a different threshold. Some of us are okay with the risks of in-person school, but wear a mask all the time, even outdoors. Others are okay with indoor family gatherings, but aren’t comfortable going to the grocery store (even with a mask). Some folks are still essentially quarantining, while others are taking cross-country road trips.
No matter what I do, it feels “wrong.” If I decline invites to an outdoor wine night, will the invites stop coming? If I go, will the guilt consume me? If I visit my parents, am I putting them at risk? If I don’t visit them, am I missing out on valuable time with them? My dad has Alzheimer’s, and I worry that by the end of the pandemic, he might not even remember me.
Early on in the pandemic, it felt like the virus was lurking around every corner. Like I couldn’t even step outside my front door without the Bully Cloud waiting to grab me. Now the judgment, second-guessing, and anger is lurking like a Bully Cloud. It’s heavy and exhausting and lonely as hell. And there is no end in sight.
As if all this weren’t enough, people are really showing their true colors these days. In fact, not since 2016 have I been so shook by so many people. Acquaintances and casual friends who I had thought were reasonable people turned out to be anti-maskers who whine on Facebook about how they can’t visit their vacation home due to coronavirus lockdowns. People I had thought were kind and compassionate dismiss the pain of Black people and complain about the “rioting” and the “thugs.” Folks I know who are generally regarded as “nice people” turn out to be closet Trump supporters.
Of course, I still have my people — my ride-or-die friends and my close family members. And I am more grateful for them than ever. Except other than my kids and husband, I’m still not able to spend time with them in the way I want to. Nearly six months into this nightmare, we still can’t safely do basic – but critical – activities that humans need. We can’t hug our friends and extended family. Our kids can’t go to school or have sleepovers or hang out watching YouTube videos together. And we’re all suffering because of it.
If I sound bitter and negative, it’s because I am. I’m angry AF. It didn’t need to be this way. We could have been preparing to send our kids back to school in person, a bit more cautious than usual but prepared to handle those risks with attainable safety precautions.
The lack of clear guidance and leadership, along with the selfish behavior of the mask-holes who can’t stop having huge parties and “living their best life,” means that those of us who are trying to be safe are suffering immensely. We miss hugging our friends and families. We miss casual gatherings with close friends. We miss seeing our kids playing with their friends.
So yeah, I’m lonely and bitter and frustrated. Actually I’m fucking livid.
Because while there’s plenty of “living my best life” and “you do you” out there, what I’ve realized over the past several months is that there is very little “in-it-togetherness” – and that is why life feels so damn lonely right now.
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