Friday 3rd April 2020 (8.18pm)
I started writing this on Wednesday but binned it as I did not have the words to articulate what I wanted to say. In fact, it probably was not the words, but the emotions, thoughts and feelings were duly lacking. I am not sure that I have them now, or whether this will go anywhere from the page that it is written on.
We are almost two weeks in to Covid-19 lockdown and I have asked myself a number of questions:
- What has changed for me?
- How am I dealing with these changes?
- Will these changes influence what I do in the future?
I initially thought that nothing has really changed for me, but I am not sure if this is true. I have always been happy in my own company and have been this way during many intermittent periods of adulthood. For the last 4 months I have lived alone, away from familiar surroundings, in a new town, adapting to change in many ways. I am living in an area and a street that I have always wanted to, but until lockdown felt it was not home and that it was a short term solution to where the hell I was going next. I moved here under difficult circumstances after a relationship break up, and up until the last 10 days felt trapped within, like a bird unable to fly, and blinkered to see what was around me. I would walk certain areas haunted and upset by the memories of walking there 12 months ago in completely different circumstances. Pre lockdown I would drive back to my previous town everyday, being drawn, not only by the beach, but because I considered it as home. I was craving to be back there, back where I lived, back in that life. Yet however hard I tried to look forward to a new future I couldn’t; maybe because it was because I kept returning. My drive to the beach would take me past my old apartment and home. Not once did I drive by and not think about whom and what I had lost. Sometimes I would pass twice a day, twice the pain. Not good for someone on the edge of fragility.
Lockdown has stopped me from going in my car, stopped me driving through my memory bank to the beach every day. It has forced me to look up and see what I have around me. I have Olly dog, I have to walk him as I have no garden. We have discovered new paths, new streets, new fields and new people. There are many more walks which we can venture to once parks re open, but for now, what we have is good. I am starting to see the same faces and whilst our dogs do dog things, I chat with the human(s) from a safe distance. I can often be found immersed in a podcast or audio book whilst chasing Olly and his ball. We have settled into a routine, and each day as we walk past the local shop he pulls me in to see the owner who gives him loads of attention and biscuits. It has become my shop for essentials.
I have found myself putting orders in online from the fruit and veg shop in the town, I have made visits to the local butchers and I cannot recall the last time I used a supermarket. I am finding all of this quite liberating and refreshing. I have been told to ‘slow down’ for many years and this has forced me in to it. I find that I am not rushing to swimming, or to a coffee shop, or to get across town to the beach, before getting home to do some study. I am going with the flow and getting everything done with time to spare. I feel less stressed and I feel more settled. Since the clocks went forward, I am also enjoying the late evening sunshine coming through my windows. I don’t feel boxed in anymore and I finally feel settled living where I do. I still do not know how long I will be here, I have seven weeks left on my contract. If I can stay I will.
That is not to say I would not consider a move back to my old town, and yes of course I will frequent there when the restrictions are lifted. Both myself and Olly love the beach and our coffee shop there too much. The most significant change for me, has been not visiting my coffee shop (sometimes two) each day. My time of reading and reflection is now channeled elsewhere through audio and walking. Of course I miss my friends from running, my sausage Friday group, my Saturday breakfast crew and whatever runs or social events we got up to in the week. I had started to become quite sociable (laughing). Evidently grateful to the many people who have messaged me to check to see that I am ok. Also thankful to belong to a mad messaging group which keeps me entertained numerous times a day, in fact most of the day.
I am keeping busy, I have to. If I don’t, then my thoughts go back to happier times, I then think too much, dwell over stuff and that isn’t good. I have come a long way recently, helped and encouraged by my excellent therapist and friends. I am not the person I was, even two weeks ago. Slowing down, changing my routine and moving away from the known or habit has helped. There is still a big part of my life that aches, it will do for a while yet, I know that.
I have a feeling that we will be under restrictions for some time to come yet. The biggest thing for me so far out of all of this is my new found ability to slow down and not to stress or worry about things that I cannot control. I am literally just going with things day by day. I will continue to shop local and make the most of what is on my doorstep. I am finally learning that simplicity is good. I even gave myself a haircut.
It would be interesting to hear if you will change anything in the future as a result of lockdown.