When I first tested positive, the shame was the worst part of all. My symptoms at first were pretty bad--fever, awful headache, everything aching and hurting, loss of appetite--but still, the shame was the worst part of all. I felt ashamed of getting it, ashamed of exposing others at work, ashamed of testing negative for the days leading up to testing positive (I work a writing job and we get tested every day), ashamed of not having symptoms the day I tested positive, ashamed of not being an absolutely perfect human being who can do no wrong, ashamed of not having control over a global pandemic.
Of course, logically, I knew the system was fucked up, I knew everyone was getting it, I knew that I'm not actually invincible and would probably get it at some point. But I think as a (recovering) perfectionist, it was hard at first to accept the L. I loved that I had never gotten it before. See, the thing about me is that I love streaks. When I'm in a streak, it's hard to let go of it. It's why I currently have a 151-week streak with Peloton. Or why I've watched six cities of Real Housewives since the pandemic started. Or why I had to forcefully make myself stop playing Animal Crossing because I literally couldn't stop playing and it was affecting my life. (Addiction comes in many forms, people!) So when I tested positive after not getting it for over two years, it took a minute for me to actually surrender to it.
But after being sick for the first couple of days, I finally did have a moment of surrender. And I thought, wow, I feel so grateful for this experience! I feel a level of surrender I've never felt before! I feel like I've expanded and created space! It took Covid to get me to actually let the fuck go of everything and I did and I feel amazing!
And then the next day I thought, nevermind. I hate everything. Without the distraction of being severely sick, I was now faced with all my feelings that had already been there. And I was angry. Pissed. Seething, really. And then the anger turned into sadness. And then the thoughts turned dark and unkind.
The truth is I had already been in a challenging place emotionally for over a month leading up to this. Lots of personal things. Life things. That were bringing me a lot of anxiety and fear. So testing positive felt like another kick in the stomach when I was already down. The shame was no longer the worst part of this experience. Having to face myself and feel my feelings was.
It was jarring. Unbearable at times. I thought, why didn't anyone tell me about this part? Everyone talks about the symptoms. "They're mild!" they'd say. Or what to eat, what to drink, what to do. "Zinc lozenges! Vitamin D!" But no one told me about their mental health. No one told me, "Well, you are isolated in a bedroom for 10 days, your life stops suddenly, so you'll have to confront everything you've been avoiding by usually staying busy, and it can turn into a dark spiral where you think thoughts you haven't thought in a long time and you will lose all concepts of time and life and self-esteem and self-worth."
And then the majority of my isolation was spent in suffering, because it felt wrong to not be productive. I couldn't be creative because physically and emotionally and spiritually I felt like shit. I couldn't ride the Peloton because it was in another room. I did manage to start doing yoga and strength workouts. But did it come from a place of feeling like I had to? That I had to keep my streak up? That I needed to do something because I wasn't doing enough? Yes. (But also, I was on Season 7 of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Teresa Giudice did yoga every day in prison, so I thought, if Teresa could do it, I could do it.)
And then this shit made me mad. How infuriating to live in a system that makes us feel this way. The world is falling apart and yet we all learn that we couldn't possibly be doing enough. It's one mass shooting after the other, one tragedy after the other, one failure after the other, and we can't even pause and take a damn breath. We keep going and going and going. No time for processing. No time for nurturing. Money money money that's all that matters. Our values are fucked. And I am brainwashed just by being born. Because here I am in a global pandemic, sick, struggling with mental health, haven't hugged my husband in 11 days, and all I'm worried about is not doing enough, not being enough, and yes, this is the worst part of the experience, this right here.
I await my test results and hope to get out of isolation today. I still feel like shit, the fatigue is real, and I am out of breath just by telling a story out loud. And now I am welcomed by a new fear--having to return to the world that already sucked.
There is a message I received while meditating on day 3 of my isolation: The Universe wants you to stop. The things that are unfolding now, personally, and collectively, are all guiding you to just stop. It will get worse until you stop. STOP.