My Covid-19 journey of self-isolation: Day 21

March 30: I feel like I’ve been training for this pandemic pretty much my whole life, but especially ever since my life exploded and I became a full-fledged hermit in a self induced cocoon to try and survive and heal from my own tsunami of pain.

A loner by nature, I’m peaceful while everyone around me is in a frenzy. I find serenity in projects at home, the garage, and the garden. I have always enjoyed solo exercising, working out at home instead of the gym, and I’m even more self sufficient now. Beaches are closed, but my own backyard sanctuary is open 24/7.

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. It’s a mindset. Home is not a prison; it’s a sanctuary. What a perfect opportunity to slow down and create your own retreat.

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Social distancing is a way of life. Not a problem. Avoid close contact? Not a problem. Shelter in place? Def not a problem.

I’m taking all the necessary precautions; washing my hands so often that I feel like LadyMacbeth minus the fact that I’ve never murdered anyone.

Doctor:
What is it she does now? Look how she rubs her hands.

Gentlewoman:
It is an accustom’d action with her, to seem thus
washing her hands. I have known her continue in this a quarter of
an hour.

Lady Macbeth:
Yet here’s a spot.

Probably because my mom was an RN and cleaned so often with Lysol that I’d often tell her I had Lysol in my veins instead of blood, but my house is VERY CLEAN. Like eat-off-the-floor clean. To me, the smell of bleach is as sweet as Chanel perfume.

Now I’ve ramped it up a bit. I disinfect food containers and cans before they come in the house, open mail with gloves on, and I have enough food to last three weeks.

The worst part of all of this is that Angel Boys 1 and 2 were supposed to visit and they had to cancel their trip. 2.0  just turned four and I missed his birthday as well as my son’s celebration, something that has really never happened in the 39 years he’s been alive.

When we FaceTimed, little Angel Boy 2.0. told me that all the libraries and toy stores and restaurants are closed. When I asked him why, he said it was “because of the virus.” I asked him what a virus was, but he didn’t know, only that all of his fun places weren’t available to him. Dad’s home because the university is closed and he’s teaching online. Mom and baby are home too, and I wish I was there to help, but I can’t go to them.

Everything is beyond surreal.

So far, I’ve had some good experiences and only one bad one.

This happened on March 11 and I wrote about it that day…”This virus is bringing out the absolute worst in people, including my own community. I was at our library, buying a couple books from the little store cos I’m going to have oral surgery and need to stay put for a bit. As I was paying for the books, I saw a huge bottle of hand sanitizer at the check out counter. I attempted to use it and the volunteer (about my age or maybe a little older) said it was “only for the workers” and “didn’t I carry my own hand sanitizer in my purse”. Needless to say, I immediately went over to the librarian who apologized and assured me that the volunteers are not supposed to HOARD the sanitizer, asked me to write up a complaint (which I did) as well as request of her to make sure all employees, volunteer/paid, knew that the library is a public institution paid for by my taxes and that was egregious behavior. What she should have said was “help yourself”. 

Except for the odd hoarding of toilet paper, that was really my only negative experience. Everyone else seems to have a feeling of community, that we’re all part of this strange Twilight Zone time, that 2020 will never be forgotten.

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So far, I’ve used five rolls of toilet paper. I know that seems like a lot, but I use it to clean, too. Did you guys hoard anything? How are you doing on paper products? Has this slloowww down changed your life? How? In what way? What kinds of adjustments will you keep when things go back to the way they were? What is it you’re missing?

I think we’re in for the ride of our lives. As above, so below.

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“To sleep: perchance to dream”…

Of course this is Shakespeare:

HAMLET:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub

Yeah, there’s the rub, that’s for sure.

I used to love to sleep. Sleep came so easily for me. Almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, I could count backwards 5-4-3-2-1 and be asleep. Just like that, *snapping my fingers*. I could fall asleep anywhere. I took blissful, restful sleep for granted.

Back then, my dreams were mostly of my beloved dogs and cats that had crossed the Rainbow Bridge, sometimes bringing happy messages back to me. Or every so often, I’d have a prophetic dream about my son but never really a nightmare.

Last night was a big deal for me.

April 1, 2019 marks the first night I slept an entire night without waking up once in dread, in a cold sweat, without my heart beating a million beats per second ready to jump out of my chest, without the gasp of that split second between sleep/awake and remembering that my daytime reality IS the nightmare, that there really IS hell on earth, and I am living proof.

When I first woke up this morning, it took a moment for me to perceive that it wasn’t 3am, that the earliest of early morning birds had started to sing and there was a faint hint of dawn lightening the sky.

There was no swirling of dreams that made waking up a death unto itself. A shard of glass to slice at my heart and torment me, poking at me with each inhale and exhale for the rest of the day.

There was peace. OMG, so much peace.

I had to help my brain process this miracle of healing, a painfully slow process of realization that FOR THE FIRST TIME, I had slept unfettered by the bondage of painful memories that morphed into night terrors so incredibly lucid that they haunted me during the day.  Sleep was walking into a dark tunnel with not the slightest glimmer of light at the end of it. Depressing, huh?

I couldn’t endure another dream of a gigantic mottled black plague-infected rat with oozing sores climbing in my bed to curl up next to me, no more continuation of the abject panic that permeated my waking life.

No more dreams that weren’t even really dreams, simply the continuing of the day’s macabre horrors.

For more than three years, thirty-six months, 1,095 days, 26,280 hours, and 1,576,800 minutes, I couldn’t sleep, and I’d cry out to no one into the silence of the night to please wake me up from this nightmare, please take me out of my misery; only to realize that there was no respite for me.

“No sleep for you!” said the sleep Nazi (an homage to Seinfeld’s soup Nazi.)

The nightmare WAS the reality.

The dark soul of the night became the abject despair of the day.

There is the saying “follow your dreams” but if I had followed those dreams, I would have ended up in a vortex of Sartre’s No Exit. 

I was in a neverending episode of the Twilight Zone, caught in a purgatory that I could never have prepared myself to endure. Drowning.

I tried everything: meditation, EFT, mantras, deep breathing exercises to control my out of control hyperventilation /tachypnea, conscious mindfulness, and lessons in neural plascticity to nurse my wounded brain. One of the best pain relievers was and is listening to raw binaural beats with headphones. Some nights, that was the only way I could even attempt sleep.

I dreaded going to sleep, the actual sleep, and the waking up from an unhappy sleep.

The simple tortuous action of closing my eyes created a canvas where I’d be subjected to an endless loop of conversations, images, mirages spanning more than twenty years.

I wished for a lobotomy, to be in a coma, to erase all that was etched in my conscious and subconscious.

Through pain and fear and sadness, I discovered that the only cure is radical acceptance. I couldn’t run away from it. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Wherever you go, there you are.

I had to stand my ground and surrender to the pain.
To love it, honor it, respect it, and learn from it.

Now. Right now. I hear a hawk, I hear a scrub jay, I hear the angry chattering of a nesting Bell’s Vireo. Off in the distance, I hear a train. I hear an airplane. I hear a symphony of wind chimes. I see blue sky, I see lush green grass that’s been lovingly tended, I feel a gentle breeze lifting a swarm of Painted Lady butterflies from the yellow marguerite daisy bushes to settle for a moment on the Pride of Madeira. All the rain we had this season birthed an incredible floral display.

Everything around me seems to be conspiring to show me that there’s still beauty after a storm, that there’s happiness to be discovered if you look and listen.

IMG_7039Oh and I see a bunny. Always a bunny.

My heart is wounded and scarred; I’ve been through a war zone,

I had no weapons to fight the enemy that raped and pillaged my life and my innocence. And my heart.

I’m collateral damage,

I’m eternally sad.

But I’m alive, and that’s something to be grateful for.

And…for the very first time in a long time, I slept an entire night and woke up in serenity and peace.

(But that peace wouldn’t last, as I soon learned…)