How We’re Handling Being Apart During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The cornavirus pandemic has put hundreds of miles between my husband and I. Some days we handle it better than others. Other times we have meltdowns. Either way, Covid-19 may have separated us by an ocean, but we’re still a team.
Before I explain how I’m coping with life during the coronavirus pandemic, I’d like to give a bit of our history.
Two Young Navy Members Fall in Love and Start a Family
Very few people, outside of possibly doomsday preppers, were prepared to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their lives. As far as my family and I, we do feel fortunate since we’ve had experience being apart during the Navy years.
As for me, I served for four years of shore duty in Virginia, Beach. My husband served on boats, shore, and overseas duty for his ten years of service. When we met, he was stationed on a boat at Norfolk Naval Base.
Shortly thereafter, we moved in together and then got engaged. Before we got married, and due to us both being products of divorce, we decided that I would stay home with our children if and when we had them.
We both felt very strongly about it. It wasn’t an issue of gender roles. We hated what we went through as children and didn’t want any children we had to endure the same thing. Since my husband made more than me at the time because he had already been in the military for two years, it seemed the logical decision.
Two years into our marriage, we had our first child. Four months after he was born, we were scheduled to go to Cuba for an overseas tour, as a family. Unfortunately, right before we were set to leave, a prisoner crisis broke out in Cuba. The Navy sent dependents home and the ones scheduled to go, couldn’t.
Until that time, we were used to my husband being gone for two weeks to six months. The overseas tour kept us apart for 18 months. By the time our daughter was born three and half years later, my husband was on shore duty. Together, we decided we were finished with the Navy..
Civilian Life, Offshore Boat Captain, and Home Educating
Our Navy days ended in ’99. Funnily enough, my husband worked at the same base for a civilian contractor, that he was on when he was honorably discharged from the military. However, the money wasn’t that great, so he studied for and obtained a Master’s License.
He’s been working offshore for over a decade now. During that time, we weren’t happy with the school system, so we opted to home educate our children. We pulled our son out after the third grade, our daughter never stepped foot in a school until she chose to dual enroll at a local college. Our son dual enrolled as well.
All of us were used to being together a lot before my husband became an offshore supply boat master. Then, we grew as a family and learned to deal with my husband’s rotations. It wasn’t always easy, but it wasn’t always bad, either. Typically, his rotations were and still are 4 weeks off and 4 on, or 3 week off and 3 home.
We were not without family issues, we had strife like most do. However, we also had love and fun, and did the best we could under the circumstances. We’re a tight-knit family.
The Empty Nest
It’s inevitable, the days came when our children left home. The empty nest season of our lives had come. Our son moved out and to another state about eight years ago. Then he married and gave us a beautiful granddaughter. Our daughter left home and eventually married, too.
Though I cried enough tears to flood the Gulf of Mexico over both being grown and gone, our daughter stayed in the area. She’d frequently come over to visit, come to family gatherings at my mother-in-laws, or go out to eat. After she married, we had the pleasure of our son-in-law being included in everything we did.
My husband and I may have an empty nest, but we never went through empty nest syndrome. When he’s home, we do things together and separately. During his time at work, I still do my own thing whether writing, vegging in front of the tv, painting, or something else.
Just Before the Coronavirus Lock Down
Prior to the Covid-19 shutdowns, my daughter and son-in-law were all set to leave and enjoy camping across the country before moving to another state. We did a special family day, including my husband’s mom, to say our goodbyes to the kids because my husband was set to go back to work before they left.
Well, as you all know, the coronavirus pandemic caused upheaval in the lives of everyone. My husband left for work as scheduled, but my daughter and son-in-law had to change their plans.
The Coronavirus Pandemic Shutdowns Take Effect
Unfortunately, since my husband and his crew were nearly to their destination when the coronavirus shutdowns took place, they had to continue. Once anchored in the other country, they couldn’t leave. My daughter and my son-in-law had to postpone their camping adventures.
I felt heartbroken for my husband and my daughter. Thankfully, our daughter and son-in-law took us up on an offer to stay here as long as the needed. The timing couldn’t have been better!
The pipes under the kitchen sink broke and I tried to fix them on my own. Unfortunately, my arthritis ridden hands said, “Nope!” My son-in-law took over and did a great job. Then the ceiling in the back room started leaking. He climbed to the roof, and with help from his lovely wife, they put up a tarp during a thunderstorm. A couple of days later, he put some sealant on the roof for me. It hasn’t leaked since!
They also did the majority of cooking and grocery shopping while here. I didn’t object. I rather liked not shopping or having to cook. We gave each other space, but also played games, painted, and did a bit of crafting. I enjoyed every single moment I spent with them.
However, when states started reopening along with campgrounds, they decided to head out. Their decision was understandable, they wanted to get their traveling in before winter hit.
Coronavirus Pandemic and Being Completely Alone
Jokingly, I’ve often said, “As an introvert, I was made for the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing!” I enjoy alone time, peace, and quiet, it’s how I function.
For my entire 50 years on this earth, I’ve always had family or friends close by, even when I was alone. There’s a certain peace knowing you have loved ones around. My mother-in-law lives in the area, but we don’t see each other often.
Perhaps I grew too dependent on the kids while they were here for the first couple months of the Covid-19 shutdown. Now that they’ve been gone and my husband and I have been apart for over 6 months, my ability to cope has become much harder.
I’ve Never Felt Lonely Before
When you’re an introvert, being alone is something you enjoy. There’s no “getting used it.” It’s just who you are, even though your extroverted friends and family may not get it.
My social life hasn’t changed much at all since the coronavirus reared it’s ugly head and caused turmoil throughout the world. I go to the store or run other errands and come home and do whatever. I keep in contact with family and friends who don’t live in the area via social media, texting and phone calls. Not an exciting life, but it’s my life and I love it.
However, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have started exacting a toll on me. The quiet and peace have become too much. Shortly after the kids left, an ever present pang crept up on me. It’s left a deep ache in my chest and causes tears to fill my eyes… I feel incredible lonely because my home has been empty for too long.
Initially, despite the pain of feeling lonely, I still maintained a semblance of being okay. But, mentally, I was on the outs. Bad news from my daughter-in-law about my granddaughter, coupled with my daughter leaving, and missing my husband left me open to being scammed.
Lately, I’ve found it hard to want to even get out of bed in the morning.
Two weeks ago I did a load of laundry and put the basket of dried clothes on the dining room table. The basket is still on the table.
Aside from sweeping up any messes made from our younger Boston Terrier, I haven’t swept the rest of the house.
My hairbrush hasn’t seen the light of day for weeks.
I don’t feel like cooking. I grab junky crap along with quicky meals from the store, or get fast food.
On the occasion I do make something requiring a pan, utensils, or dishes, they stay on the counter for days. I do, however, add soap and water for easier wiping down… before they go to the dishwasher.
I don’t take walks because I live in Florida and it’s too hot and humid. That’s not a result of loneliness or the coronavirus pandemic, I just can’t tolerate the weather.
Underwear should be changed daily, right? Hm.
Plans to Overcome the Self Pity
I’m trying to overcome the feelings of self pity due to feeling lonely. It’s essential for my mental and physical health. Finding strength from within is the only way to do it.
In an effort to spare my husband being worried about me, I kept news of my mental breakdown away from him. Huge mistake.
He knows me, and he doesn’t have to see my face to know something is wrong. He can tell by my texts or voice when something is askew. Heaven forbid I don’t use an exclamation point after texting him “good morning.” I’m busted.
When on the verge of collapse, it takes about five or six times of me saying, “I’m okay,” before I breakdown and tell him the truth. That’s what happened the other day when I started bawling after he refused to give up questioning me.
I told him the whole sorted mess and he said, “Honey, it’s okay. Everything will be okay. Just try to at least one thing every day that makes you happy.”
After his awesome pep talk, I decided to follow his advice. Completely getting over the funk I’m in won’t happen overnight, but I’m committed to trying to find at least one thing a day to do that makes me happy.
Yesterday I went out with a girl friend and enjoyed Mexican food and a margarita. I did not brush my hair, I just used my fingers to tame it. Also, I did change my underwear since I took a shower.
I’d like to get back into beginning yoga, and also eating healthier. Perhaps I’ll get some canvas and paint like no one will ever see it. Something, anything will help.
How are you and your family handling the coronavirus pandemic? Has it affected your mental health? If so, have you found ways to cope? Please leave a reply if you’d like to share how the coronavirus pandemic has affected you.