Not alone, I’m sure, in finding triggers from life in the time of virus. Electric shock moments that zap me into spaces I don’t want to inhabit anymore.
Having to wear gloves conjures up the horrors of Sunday mornings living with my grandmother. Scratchy crinolines, white cotton gloves, hat of “plastic” braided straw. Elbow in my side if I swung my patent-leathered mary-janed shod feet; harder dig if I forgot the admonishment to never sing the hymnal words aloud.
Face masks/facial coverings bring me back to an air-less, dark bedroom during my time of the “pox;” chicken pox. Endless-baking-soda-mustard-powder-baths. Absolute terror when I read the section on my disease in Doctor Spock’s Baby and Child Care, the 1957 edition – a common baby shower gift from another era. (A voracious, precious reader I gobbled adult books from an early age). “Masks. Gowns. Gloves. Isolate the infected,” as I remember it.
Feeling the anxiety in the air, as thick as any miasmatic virus, as I roam the aisles or wait in line at the grocery store. I approach the necessities of shopping as an adventure; a safari in Jurassic Park. Raptors lurk in the empty paper product shelves; t-rex stalks the meat counter. Brontosaurs munch among the lettuce and tomatoes. These creatures I can handle with my handy sword and shield. It’s the anxiety monster, fed by the panic of everyone in the store, that hovers by the check-out.
Away from other peoples’ vibes, cocooned in my borrowed “shelter in place,” place – I slip into bad habits – beer and potato chips to stave off the un-contemplatable future. Each time I devolve into a frenzy of salt and alcohol, I swear – NEVER AGAIN. Resolve that dissolves in the ennui of afternoons and the need to numb-down the buzzing-dragon-tail-flaying inside my body and my mind.
April 17, 2020 at 7:07 am
I am still triggered by the empty shelves. It’s an experience I never made before, so I had no coping mechanism for that. But as time goes on, I learn to live with this new normal, and I think most of us will be able to adapt as well. We will get through this, there is no shortcut and no easy way out, but we will pull through.
Stay strong and healthy ❤️
April 15, 2020 at 5:44 pm
I love your honesty. My triggers are around survival fears. Irrational fears that I won’t have enough food lead me into cooking frenzies where I frantically cook up a weird mix of ingredients that then prove largely inedible! Completely ridiculous behavior. I get my shopping delivered as older people are being urged to stay home over here in Oz. Also my compromised immunity puts me at risk. Not being able to chose my food by browsing supermarket shelves is causing me some stress too. When I do get a food order I find I have forgotten some items and must wait another week or so before I qualify for another delivery.
I read somewhere online yesterday that one way through these instinctual fears and memories of old hard times is to take the attitude they are being revealed so that we can finally heal and clear them. Often this remains an aspiration for me as I freak out yet again in my kitchen but I am starting to see that such healing might be possible. I live in hope!
April 16, 2020 at 11:22 pm
I agree, as you suggest, these moments of instinctual fears can be instructional ones as well. Some of my childhood triggers are more constant — the gloves issue, for example. Others, like chicken pox are part of a web of memories that flash up at odd times, and are reinforced by life in the time of virus. If healing (for me, and for others) can come from these challenging times, then good can come from bad. A sliver, a shimmer of hope.
I understand your survival fears based on food. Food insecurity is a scary feeling; one I have experienced in the past which is why I worry about others facing it. And perhaps is part of how the anxiety monster stalks me when I do go shopping. As the store shelves empty, I am more apt to feel the overwhelming need to get “something” to put aside for future and further shortages. So far, I have managed to keep this to things that I will use, and the store limit of only two of any item means I can’t give in should the urge to buy more sweeps me up.
At least I can venture, so far, into the grocery stores. I would, like you suggest, have difficulties if my grocery shopping was done “remotely.” I am glad that services are available for you to use so you don’t have to compromise your health by shopping.
Here’s to riding out the storm.
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April 17, 2020 at 7:39 pm
Hi Lorraine, yes these are very strange times. I’m getting the shopping online sorted out but, like you, have to resist the urge to buy up a whole of stuff I don’t really need.
The last couple of days cabin fever has been a problem for me. I’ve been driving 5 minutes up the main road to a nature reserve. Going for walks in a natural environment has really helped. To get to the reserve I have to drive past a major supermarket and mall. It’s amazing how many cars there are in the carpark. I’m very glad not to have venture inside! Take care out there. :)