Creeping Out of Lockdown

I Thought I Would Sprint

Lockdown is easing. Yay!
I wanted this. So why do I feel anxious all the time?
It’s not because I’m scared of getting the virus. Been there, done that, got the tinnitus. I’ve also had the first dose of vaccine, so, in terms of contracting covid-19, I’m in a pretty good position (Sorry if that sounds smug. If it helps, I had it quite badly for a month. Do not recommend)
At last, after a year of being confined to our homes for fear of inadvertently killing our grans, we are allowed to take tentative steps into the outside world. But I don’t feel ready.
We had a practice run at this last summer, and I was fine. I took Rishi Sunak’s advice and ate out to help out. I was very helpful. If there was an award for re-launching the economy by stuffing your face, I believe I would have been a strong contender.
So what’s different this time?
A year is too long to be socially inactive. I have forgotten how to be a part of the pack and now I can’t stop my thoughts from tying me in knots when I consider making plans.
I have got used to a simple life. My evenings follow a routine of: dinner, an hour of chores, an hour of TV, upstairs to read in bed. Lights out (Twenty-year-old me is horrified, but then she did some things I don’t approve of either).
I like this routine. I’m nowhere near as tired as I used to be when my routine was punctuated by theatre trips and meals out with friends. I am safe here.

I’ve seen how the re-opening of schools has affected my children and I am worried for all our young people.

I’ve seen how the re-opening of schools has affected my children and I am worried for all our young people. Schools being closed was worse, but being thrown back into the intensity of all that stimulation and interaction, not to mention the early starts, has left my two like rabbits in headlights, wide-eyed, exhausted and feeling like a truck is heading for them, but they’re too tired to get off the road.
I don’t think we should underestimate how exhausting external stimulus can be. I once asked a clever friend why a walk makes me more tired than a session on the cross-trainer in my spare bedroom. It could be the stimulus, she said. There’s so much more going on outside and your brain has to process it all.
This makes sense to me. When I think about making plans, I feel overwhelmed by the possibilities of what could go wrong. Will I run out of conversation? Will I get drunk and make an idiot of myself? What the Hell can I wear? (I’ve been eyeing up kaftans recently. Somebody stop me).
I used to be the most sociable person I knew. I have always drawn energy from social interactions, but this afternoon, an old, dear friend is coming to have a glass of wine in my garden, and I am nervous. What’s all that about?
I feel like, after all the emotions of the last year – the initial fear, the drama of a national lockdown, the dashed hope of last summer, the darkest of winters, then the anticipation of opening up and getting back to some semblance of normal – I have resigned myself to staying in my home, and anything more than that feels like too much.
I marvel at my friends who’ve been key workers throughout the pandemic. Not just because they have kept the country turning and allowed people like me to hide from the horrors they’ve experienced, but because they can now carry on as normal, just with less threat of contracting a deathly virus as they go about their business.
It’s going to take me some time to feel like there is anything like business as usual.

Like many of my friends, I’m creeping out of this pandemic when I thought I would sprint.

Like many of my friends, I’m creeping out of this pandemic when I thought I would sprint.
Obviously, as a compulsive over-sharer, I will post pictures on social media of the lovely times I will soon have with my friends and family. I have missed them to aching.
But, as is often the case with social media, there’s a story behind those pictures which isn’t shown in the smiling faces, or the hand raising the glass.
I know there is a big and beautiful world out there to enjoy, and enjoy it I will. But give me a minute to steel myself first, because coming out of my safe place isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

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