There was a lot to hate about the pandemic, like not being able to see loved ones, hanging out with your neighbors, traveling, dining out and all the ugliness that a certain orange one encouraged in his followers. There was a lot I hated about it and I greatly struggled in the first few months of it. I did not know how to handle the slow pace of it. The endless relentlessness of being confined in a home that I really didn’t feel was mine yet.
I had moved in with the then boyfriend in November 2019. Neither of us anticipated that a mere four months later, we would be living together, literally 24 hours a day. There were times where I needed to shut the door to the one room in this house that I claimed as my own. I didn’t know if I or we were going to survive living through this unwanted togetherness that had no end-date in sight. Looking back, I also recognize I was still coming to terms with the end of my first marriage and all of the ugliness that came with it.
I journaled a lot. I had to figure out something to keep me from bolting. I knew what I had now was vastly better than what I had before. There were times at night after the then boyfriend would drift off to sleep and I would peruse apartments in the area I had moved to after my divorce. I would contemplate being on my own again. One of my bad tendencies is impulsiveness and the pandemic forced me to really examine why I wanted to go back from the place I had retreated to after my divorce.
I think it was the first time I truly felt a sense of independence. I went from very briefly living on my own at 19 to being married at 20. When I was on my own, I was only answerable to myself. I could buy shoes without having to explain why I wanted another pair, even if I didn’t need them. It was the first time in my adult life that I had developed a circle of girlfriends that could make plans with. I feel like at 55, single for the first time since I was 19, that I was living the life I would have had I not gotten married at 20.
Like I said, I can be impulsive. When the then boyfriend asked me to move in with him a few months after we started dating, I said yes. Neither of us knew that the whole world would be shutting down. I had intended to keep my world open by continuing to do the things that I enjoyed doing. I had a taste of independence that I was unwilling to let go of easily.
I had to figure out other ways to insert that independence because I recognized that bolting during a pandemic probably would not be the best decision. I also knew that I was being driven by fear of what I had with the then boyfriend. When I tell people it’s scary to be truly loved in the way he loves me, it really is a scary place to be in. I think I always worried that he would find out about the real me and not want to love me anymore. In some ways, I feel like that’s what happened with the first husband. He could not love the real me and so that is the reason why he left.
This slow down of the world forced the then boyfriend and I together in the world of groundhog days. It also allowed me to see that even on my worst days, he loved me. On the days that I struggled so mightily, he loved me. He lets me be.