COVID-19 hit right as I returned home from a trip to see my mom.
I have been in quarantine ever since.
These last six months have affected everyone; regardless of our personal experiences, each one of us has been forced through an awakening of sorts—in which the curtain has been pulled back on what our lives are built upon and the parts that we deem most important.
I love living alone—no curfews, no rules to follow but my own, no one telling me to turn the music down or to open a window because I just burned the French toast. Quiet mornings and a bed all to myself. It’s truly heaven.
And then, it’s not.
The freedom is sometimes replaced with loneliness, the silence is sometimes replaced with my own sobs, as I question the life I have built up until now.
As I was sipping my coffee a few mornings ago, I realized that I have not touched another person or been touched in six months. Woah.
No handshakes, no hugs, no kisses, no shoulder squeezes, not even a simple pat on the back.
With people I love, I would label myself an affectionate person.
Physical closeness and connectivity are integral to our survival and our development. When we have loving contact with another, our brain releases all those yummy hormones that make us feel good: endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. Our immune function improves and our cortisol levels decrease.
This time alone has made me think—a lot.
I think about my life, my choices, the ways I’ve hurt myself and others, my past, and my future. I think about what the hell I am going to eat that day and why I can’t seem to forgive certain past transgressions.
I think about how much we all take so much for granted.
It hits me that I will never again take physical closeness and contact for granted. I will squeeze those I love harder; I will hold hands more frequently; I will be the one to lean in for a kiss. I will not be shy to ask for support.
I will cuddle, hold, and soothe.
I will stop thinking the grass is greener in someone else’s life because I am having a bad day.
I will stop yearning for affection of people who don’t yearn for mine.
I will forgive.
I will choose to see all this differently.
I will heal, uplevel, and awaken. I will be more humble, present, and grateful.
I will survive this.
And I will cherish the next hug, kiss, embrace, or squeeze—I know what it is like to live without them.