I think it’s safe to say that no one expected 2020 to develop the way it has, with a universal sense of fear and frustration over COVID-19 and the US government’s response or lack thereof. Every day I wake up to check the news, check the projection models, and see the death toll rising. In just a little over a month, realities have changed and nothing is certain. It feels impossible to plan for the future when no one really knows what that will look like, when no one knows when things will “go back to normal.”
On social media folks talk about life “pre-quarantine” and what they would have done had they known what was to come. For me, life before Stay-at-Home orders was the first wave of what would later be a tsunami of changes and imbalances. I had just gotten out of a serious two-year relationship with someone I thought would be in my life a lot longer than she was. I was in the midst of grieving that love and connection. A month before we were all ordered inside, I was going out on the weekends trying to dance and drink the grief away. I had moments of pure bliss surrounded by my closest friends, but there were many nights where I came home feeling like a shadow of a person, feeling so worn down by my hurt that I couldn’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t feel this way. I was ready to spend the next couple of months like this: allowing myself the distraction of socializing until I was ready to sit down, look at myself in the mirror, and do the work necessary to feel intact again. But that time came a lot sooner than I had expected.
One of the hardest mental blocks I had to overcome was thinking I couldn’t feel my hurt in the middle of a global tragedy. It felt offensive and ridiculous for me to be heartbroken when there is real tangible pain and suffering happening all around me. It doesn’t always seem valid for me to grieve the loss of a relationship when so many lives are being lost daily. It’s still a feeling that creeps up on me.
At the same time, it feels almost impossible for me to not think about my past relationship when there is so much time for me to spend in my head. I’ve thought about many aspects of the relationship a thousand times over during the lockdown.
Could I have done something differently?
Was I at fault?
Am I deserving of love?
Nothing could have prepared me for feeling like I had failed at love. I grew up without any genuine examples of love in my family. My parents argued constantly and I saw the manipulation and dishonesty between them. Miscommunication and resentment ate at their relationship until they finally got divorced. I thought that if I could communicate and love honestly, I wouldn’t repeat mistakes that my parents made, but relationships are difficult and there’s no exact formula that can guarantee a good relationship. These feelings all come in waves and are amplified during quarantine.
The option of spending a day or night out with friends is no longer there. For anyone dealing with a broken heart in this moment, it feels like so many coping mechanisms (good and bad) are gone. Some days it weighs heavy on me. I feel the shame and anger in my chest like slime stuck to my ribs. It’s easy to sink into those feelings. And then there’s the worry. I worry about her. I worry if she’s doing okay. In that worry, though, I know I still need to tend to my heart before opening myself up to reconnecting.
On the days I give myself grace, I do the things that bring me comfort. I take virtual dance classes and move my body. Dancing has become a source of relief for me. The ways my body can move to beats and rhythms makes me feel like air. I talk to my friends on Facetime and Zoom and share moments of laughter with them. My heart feels like it’s being dipped in honey, in the sweetness of my friendships during those times. I’ve started journaling more regularly and being honest with myself in my writing. I write poems about my heartbreak, about my growth, and about my dreams. I listen to music that brings me joy, brings me sadness, or brings me nostalgia. I do my best to show up for myself.
Everyone says it takes time and it’s true. I am slowly mending myself, stitching myself back together. I am feeling like myself again and discovering interests and hobbies that I hadn’t before despite the quarantine or maybe because of it. I have to keep in mind that I won’t be moving forward everyday. Sometimes I’ll take a couple of steps back or maybe just stand still. There is no right way to get over a heartbreak, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. But I’ll keep trying.