This earth is holding us near

By Romy Durrant.

This content discusses emotional issues some may find provoking.

This morning I found myself in tears, not wanting and very nearly unable to get out of bed. This isn’t new for me as someone with chronic mental health issues. What is unusual was the feeling that I might genuinely have nothing to look forward to. A feeling that I feel is grounded more in fact than any ‘symptom’. You might have felt or thought similar things since COVID-19.

Last night I dreamt of non-sexual physical touch.

I am single and I live alone. No partner, no housemates. Intimacy was a luxury even before physical distancing set in. I do wish that I had someone to self-isolate with. I am susceptive to that unproductive, envious thought cycle. Comparing myself to others – those who can leave their house and go grocery shopping together.

I don’t know what it is like to live in a rural area, or to be separated from friends, family, and community. I acknowledge the different realities of people who share their homes. This time is one of heightened vulnerability to domestic violence especially. I am reminded of my ex-partner, who often withheld touch as punishment. This crisis has brought past hurts and trauma to the surface. I have never felt more alone, and yet I have never felt more of a desire to be, and stay, connected.

Yesterday I saw two women out walking their dogs. As the two women passed each other, their dogs touched noses. The women engaged in a conversation about their dogs, as the dogs acquainted themselves. How old? Name? I stood to observe the women from my invisibly cordoned spot across the road. There were laughing as they walked to the pedestrian crossing, waiting for the light to turn green.

Lately, conversations with colleagues and my few friends and family have been resoundingly hopeless. The half-full glasses are emptying. I am reassured that this nothing-to-look-forward-to is not just a private feeling. We are in crisis. For me, this
hopelessness is a foreign kind of familiar. I miss going to work at the office. I miss 9-5 with colleagues. Being at the office often constitutes my only routine and face-to-face socialisation.

That unreadiness to face the day is justified. I struggle now to switch off. I am so sad that the news does not shock or surprise me anymore.

We are taking things day by day.

This earth is holding us near.