It’s September and it’s been half of the year since we were thrown into this new normal. The situation consumed us within months and although we know that a pandemic would kill so many people, no one expected that it would be this much, and we certainly didn’t know that the life we had then would be put on hold to this extent.
In March, I thought I simply have more time to be home with my family for three more months. I thought it was time to take a breather while the world is crumbling down, which sounds wrong because it is wrong. It was selfish but I felt a pang of relief because what adult wouldn’t want to take a break from going to the office and dragging her body in ungodly hours?
But as the quarantine spills itself to the following month and to what seems to be an unending present, nothing can feel purely safe no matter how much we swaddle ourselves with comfort. And while we wait in our homes that might not exactly be a place of rest for everyone, even our privileges do not always feel right as we realize the disparity among the rich, middle class, and poor.
Sometimes we get informed by a piece of news, sometimes through a first-hand story by those who we care for, and sometimes we are already familiar with this sharp inequality because it happened to us. We are blessed if we have someone who can make mental space for what we pour out when they might be going through things that they just don’t share themselves.
When we do have these people who deeply listen and care for us, attention and kindness are gifts that we must reciprocate. And these are also matters that we ought to give to ourselves so we don’t get tired of living.
I’ve been looking a lot at what I have been doing to be happy; and from a logical, economic, and moral standpoint, my answers are not always right. Time with my family makes me happy, but in combination with time for games, Netflix, exercise, writing for a hobby, eating good food, manhwa, brief chats with a few friends, and compulsive spending to fill an emotional void when I have low EQ. Of course, I can’t stretch myself to do these at once but I make it a point to make time for them. You see, I still keep my childish hobbies because one of the life tenets I abide by is happy parents make happy children since that joy is bound to trickle down on everything they do, and yes, I am justifying these life’s luxuries.
Speaking of wants, there have been changes in the kind of purchases I make. I think my orders mostly befit my age now — 30s — ranging from cookware, to home improvement, to a smart body scale. I’m not into buying cheap apparel on Shopee anymore 😆 and I’ve been actually giving away most of my clothes. Even my perspective on films changed. I used to revere The Before Trilogy, and now I just cringed a lot when I rewatched Before Sunrise. 🤢 Updated review: I wanted to forcefully materialize myself on the screen so I can punch that useless Jesse Wallace in the face.
My emotions have been frequently extreme, leaping to 300% grateful and plummeting to “I should start buying coffins.” My mind is not a pleasant place to be in at times. And I’m lucky to have a tight-knit circle who flows with me because I don’t have any other adjective to describe what they do that is never tolerant or dismissive.
Pre-pandemic, I was an occasional drinker. But now, I justified so many nights as a perfect time to drink wine. There was a time I chugged an entire bottle so I puked alone in the bathroom with no memory of whatever I was saying out loud. It felt like the ceiling was collapsing on me and I couldn’t open my eyes and my stomach was twisting my organs and I just can’t stop from throwing up, also because my face was in the toilet with a pond of my vomit that was disgusting. The next day, my mom gave me an earful and brought up my diagnosed fatty liver that I had honestly forgotten.
My daughter asked why I like to drink, and it was a hard question to answer because I honestly don’t know the reason myself. I am not sure if I have a problem with life in general, but I am aware that I should be grateful because it is what people have been saying and I know I ought to, and I am. Yet at times, I feel a hole within perhaps because I can acknowledge the void but I am helpless.
It’s funny how keeping still can make your thoughts hyperactive. We are not actually stuck even if it sure feels like we have stood in the same spot for too long — there are too many things that we think about to consider ourselves inert. And although it is chaotic, it’s beautiful that we are collectively forced to make new choices, even if they’re painful.
Some of us have met our shadows, and it’s not a bad thing to entertain your darkest of thoughts. I like what a friend said about “letting them visit but not letting them stay.”
This is a quote from the film Weathering With You ☔, and it sums up how I feel about life right now:
“Dear God, if you exist, please don’t take anything more, and don’t give anything more.”
At the moment, I am paranoid of happiness because it can feel like an advance apology for an upcoming grief that I would not be able to stand. And this is what I am most scared of.