Holy cow, I have learned a lot about myself during this pandemic. Most of it not very good.
One big thing is related to something that happened yesterday: the director of the local Wesley center came over because she needed a couple paychecks signed. (I am the only official signer at the minute; we are working to change that). I signed them, and handed them back, and she said, as she was leaving, "Thanks, sweetie!"
And that hit me like a truck.
I mean, I am sure she didn't even THINK about it - she is that kind of a person - but it had been SO LONG since I had heard a simple affectionate word that it really struck me.
Most of my "business" these days is conducted over e-mail, which, I find professional e-mail to be a very cold medium. Ninety percent of the time when someone asks for something and I do it I don't even hear a "thank you" back,. and I have a few students who seem to think if I don't respond within 20 minutes of receiving an e-mail I'm ignoring them, and they e-mail me again, and I feel hounded and harassed. (No, we can't ask them to limit e-mails, and yes, I also recognize this is how anxiety comes out in people but heck, we're all anxious now, I wish other people would use a little care).
But yeah. That's one big thing we've lost of late, and one big thing that as a solo person I miss greatly: the small nice interactions in a day. I mean, I am very pro-mask and all, I completely understand how they are literally one of the only defenses we have in this, but wearing a mask around other people means they're harder to hear AND ALSO I feel like talking less in one. And you can't see expressions. So conversations masked-up feel very unrealistic and stilted.
And one thing I'm learning: I desperately need the validation of other people. If I don't get it, I'm not enough on my own. I'm not enough to believe my life is worth something without that being reinforced by other people. And I know that's a bad and dangerous thing, but, to use a phrase I now hate because of how it was used recently, "it is what it is."
This is why I'm worried about the coming weeks with very, very limited human contact - oh, I made it through the summer, but that was somehow different. The fact that the big holidays of my year - Thanksgiving and Christmas - are coming and there is NOTHING I can do for them that is like how I did it before, and also it's now the time of the year when it gets dark very suddenly at about 4:30 pm, and the fact that I have restricted back down to grocery trips and maybe a monthly trip to either Walgreen's or Lowe's if I have the justification of something breaking or needing a medical thing..
I see in my Informed Delivery, for example, a JoAnn's ad is coming in the mail, and that makes me sad. Oh, there's nothing I NEED - if there were, I could mail order it, I guess - but it's the idea of being in a different place, somewhere not home/work/weekly church/weekly grocery store that I miss. I miss third places. I miss going places without weighing risk heavily. (And especially now, with talk of elective surgeries being cancelled, and ICUs filling up - I am not doing any extraneous driving because of the risk of a car accident. Already yesterday I got nearly run off the road on the way home by someone in a big jacked up pickup truck with what was probably an illegal deer spotlight on it)
It's just the Groundhog Day feeling of it. I woke up on Wednesday and for a minute could not remember if it was Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or even Tuesday. Yes, I know a vaccine is coming. But I estimate it will be at least another four months before the group I am in can get vaccinated (more likely: six months), and even after that we will still have to mask and restrict movement/travel for some time after that. Like I said before: if I had a set date I could start counting down the days. But I don't, and I find "indefinite waiting" incredibly hard and painful.
I also kind of feel like what I am doing is useless - yes, staying home protects ME, not traveling for Thanksgiving protects MY MOM, but there are so many - to use a behavioral-ecology term - defectors in this situation that the spread is now uncontrolled and it's going to get markedly worse before it gets better. To the point where I'm looking at my stocks of food and going "do I have enough that I could manage for a month with no grocery trips"? Perhaps, if I restrict my milk usage to a glass a day (the unopened containers will stay good through January) and if I use beans instead of meat as my protein....but I also feel very much like It Should Not Have Gotten This Bad....and when I went to Pruett's yesterday and less than 20% of the people there had masks on....I don't know.
I also admit I worry about indie restaurants and small businesses; it's almost like this would be the kind of thing an evil leader of Amazon or Wal-Mart would *plan* to kill off the remaining competition. Like I said early in this: I wonder if there's going to be anything left to come out TO when it's over.
But yes. Having someone affirming that my existence is a good and worthwhile thing IN AN OBVIOUS WAY would help. I know, I know: "you should assume people love you unless they show you otherwise" and "you should assume you are doing a good job unless someone is screaming at you for having screwed up" but my brain doesn't quite work that way; I don't know why.