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Isolation within Isolation

I'm shut down. This happens to me when I need to retreat in the midst of too many emotions, too much stress, or chaos. It's like a fuse has blown. Like the whole electrical panel has sparked out. Every light in my internal house is turned off and I can't see anything in any of the rooms. I'm still functional-- working, writing, parenting, exercising-- but there's a roadblock to my feelings.

I know I have feelings-- fear, happiness, sadness, and loneliness-- but I can't feel those feelings beyond an intellectual understanding that they are there. It's a strange experience, like being a lone coconut on a long-lost little island. I'm just plopped there, all dried up and waiting for something to change.


We're all isolated, waiting out this eternal storm, staying in our little bunkers as much as we can. Right now it feels deeper--like I'm isolating within the isolation. I'm like the tiniest Matroyshka doll-- the one in the very center that is too small to have another hidden doll. There's nothing inside, nothing to discover or explore. Just plain wood; no light, no air.

My isolation is an adaptation to the despair in the world we are living in now, and I've only begun to process the happenings of yesterday and the two weeks to come. It's been a slogging, slow build to get where I am emotionally and I've no idea how long it will be before my long-lost feelings return. I keep on plugging away every day, hoping, knowing, that one day I'll wake up and something will spark. Maybe I'll cry or laugh really hard. I'll reconnect when I have enough reserves to manage it all.


Since the pandemic started, I've worn essentially the same thing every day. I have four pairs of overalls and a few shirts (short-sleeved in summer, long-sleeved in winter) that I rotate. Sometimes I look at my dresser with nine drawers, all filled with clothes I used to wear-- different patterned sweaters, my favorite jeans, long lost t-shirts with slogans. I rarely open my closet filled with skirts and blouses and dresses and so many shoes. Every morning I just put on one version or another of my uniform. Safely armed in my familiar, comfortable garb, I go through my day-- isolated within isolation.


Emotionally, I'm like that dresser right now. All of my emotional goodies are tucked away. The shirts and sweaters and pants all rolled up and neatly filed, Marie Kondo style. The clothes, like my long lost emotions, are waiting to be used again. Waiting, like me, for a time when there is cause to dress up, dress differently, maybe for a coffee date with a friend or a dinner date with my beloved. Or a choir recital at the high school where I'd get to see my daughter and her friends together, singing their hearts out.


I know this will pass because I've been here before-- both during the pandemic and before. It helps to imagine that even though I feel flat, deflated, disconnected, the feelings are still there. They are waiting, folded neat, and tidy in the drawers. Eventually, I'll get tired of these overalls and I'll open up my pants drawer and pull out something new. Maybe I'll even open the closet and try on a dress. But for now, I'll just take comfort in knowing that all my clothes are still there, waiting.

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