Before I say too much, let me first say that I am on board with a tough response to COVID-19. I stay home. I mask up and keep to my neighbourhood. I haven’t hugged another human in over a month. I’m not a sheeple, doing what I’m told as rights erode beneath me. I’m a conscious, grown-ass, adult, agreeing with the reasons why it must be that way. Pandemic creeps silently breath to breath, until gasping, some of us can’t get the air we need. So, we don’t give it that opportunity.
Society provides many freedoms in exchange for a few. At the moment, it asks more of us. The social contract is as old as community itself.
That said, I feel angry and resentful right now. So much sadness and frustration and brokenness and back to anger at the brokenness. The harsh restrictions in Melbourne have me struggling again with old anxieties. They press on me like a thumb on a bruise, like a bra strap on a sunburnt shoulder. One person a day. One hour a day. No more than 5km from home. The police have the right to stop, question, and check. Even with no intention of breaking the rules, I feel the weight of them. They sound like an old anxiety recording that was supposed to be in my head, not the real world.
You shouldn’t be here. Hide away. You don’t belong. This place is not for you.
I hate feeling this way again, like public spaces are unfriendly, and an ordeal. I hate finding myself performing ‘normal’ again, instead of being alive inside each moment. As I over-eat, worry hangnails, and struggle to find scattered thoughts in a thick, swirling brain fog, it dawns on me that I am angry to be back here.
Yet, I can be both angry and in agreement with my social contract.
This is the place I wish we could get to in public discourse. Beyond the overly bright champions of stay-home wellbeing, and the entitled Karens and conspirators, we have a mixed bag of everyone else. I want to see us acknowledge the both-ness of how much this sux and also how important it is. The only conversation that feels real is where people share the whole story of struggle and comfort, despair and solace.
I feel like we’re getting better at that, in Victoria. With ongoing lockdown grinding at our painted smiles, we don’t have energy left to pretend that it’s all about solidarity and sourdough recipes.
I think we are all past the point of coping, and well into the need for figuring out how to live differently.
I’ve lived with anxiety for the longest time, coping by pushing as hard as I could to get by and then hiding my crashes behind sick days and cop outs. I’m grateful that I faced it and learned new tools, but it meant I had to live differently. Real self care is often simple, but far from easy.
Lockdown is hard on us all in different ways. We can be tired, angry, and honest, and still wear our masks and stay home. My hope is that we can open up a different kind of conversation. How do we move forward as individuals, families, workplaces, states and nations, accepting that we have new constraints? If we look at the high likelihood that we won’t bounce back to “normal” in a few weeks or months, what different decisions can we make to care for ourselves and each other? What certainties can we create?
We can be frustrated, even as we come to new agreements about how we work, travel, socialise and prioritise. How do we look beyond coping, to a different way of life?
“It is easier to conquer than to administer. With enough leverage, a finger could overturn the world; but to support the world, one must have the shoulders of Hercules.”
“Sometimes it’s easier to gain traction once you slow the spinning wheels.”