Boundaries with Pandemics
My boss has seen my bed. So has my therapist. Just when I had set a goal to work on boundaries.
Other subjects I have not seen effectively make it into the collective conversation as of the end of July 2020, four months into the COVID closures in the United States: the damage socially distancing can cause; quarantining with abusive housemates (a distinct subset of domestic violence that’s gotten zero attention comparatively); quarantining at home when you have no home; how completely ineffective shaming people is in changing their behavior and yet how proud many people are about practicing mask shaming; the jumbo mental-health crisis that already existed in this country before COVID, how much worse COVID is making it and the utter lack of any sort of national response or plan; just how literal we who joke about “time not feeling like a real thing anymore ha” are actually being and what that means for those of us who feel like some mental-health-crisis-sized desires of our hearts are being destroyed by COVID; how every American being considered about property damage is and accountability/tracking for how effective defunding police budgets is.
Maybe most importantly, though, is just how not worth it life becomes when you let fear drive your bus. I’ve done this my whole life: I’m a catastrophist. On the one hand, there’s never a better time to be a catastrophist than during a catastrophe—I still have not needed to buy toilet paper since lockdown commenced because I am always prepared to be stuck in my house for at least two months, though, now that I think about it, that might have been wishful thinking on my part rather than conscious planning ha. On the other hand, everything I’ve always wanted is on the other side of fear. Until COVID, you might as well have told me that everything I wanted was on the other side of the rainbow: it was easier to amputate my dreams and reach for satisfaction through the false importance of busyness than to really try for something I might never get.
Well, it was easier until it wasn’t. I know an explanation should come next, but I don’t have one. Maybe that’s what grace is: you get a thing you needed without being able to track where or how or why or even when, really. You can’t explain this new thing you have and yet, you have it anyway, and you get to keep it. I get to keep my inability to settle for life sans dreams that was cocooning during the worst of my life (2019 ha).
So, while all conventional understandings of boundaries are being obliterated by executive mandates to stay home, I have the power to at least set this one: when a pandemic asks for my resignation-from-dream-life letter, I will say no. And I won’t let my lack of plans or my fear or even my socially-ratified desire to be “reasonable” write one behind my back.
Megan Wildhood is an empathic, neurodiverse lady writer, social worker in training and unique-earring collector in Seattle who helps her readers feel genuinely seen as they interact with her dispatches from the junction of extractive economics, mental and emotional distress, disability and reparative justice. She hopes you will find yourself in her words as they appear in her poetry chapbook Long Division as well as TheAtlantic, Yes! Magazine, Mad in America, The Sun and elsewhere. You can learn more at meganwildhood.com.