I was a mess this week, a big part in tribute to the time change messing with my sleep schedule, and hormone issues on top of that. But it’s not just that. This week really brought home to me just how important it is for me to stop remaining isolated.
Last weekend was a big one. It started on Friday night, with a nerdy board game night at my friend Jennine’s house. Jennine, Kristina, Alia, and I hung out and played Ticket to Ride (my first time playing). I almost didn’t go because it just felt so hard and exhausting, but I knew I’d be happy once I got there. It was frustrating, because I always feel so exhausted by going out, even though I’m an extrovert and actually feel really recharged by being around my friends! Somehow, over all these years, I never made the connection: It’s the actual leaving the house, the getting out, that’s the exhausting part. It’s the beating agoraphobic impulses that wears me out. The friends part? That’s the reward.
The rest of the weekend was great, too. Went out for boozy ice cream on Saturday with Stephanie, then over to Michael’s to pick up some supplies for my next group photoshoot. In the parking lot for the shopping center by Michael’s, there was a pop-up market with a ton of vendors that we wandered through, and made some fun little purchases and personal connections. On Sunday, I had lunch with some cousins that I hadn’t seen in over a year, and then I went to Alia’s house with another friend, Sisa, to have a Love is Blind watch party (which mostly involved chatting with the show running in the background, ha!).
Then Monday came, and I suddenly felt awful, and I ended up a mess for the rest of the week. All the way until Friday evening, when Sisa and Alia – who both had also not been feeling the best – came over to my house for our second Love is Blind watch party. Literally all three of us nearly canceled the watch party for our various emotional/mental health reasons, but we all made it (including me, who had to get off her bum to clean the house, ha!), and all three of us felt enormously better than we’d felt beforehand. Just having people around who you love and who love you, without any pressure or conditions, people you can say to, “Hey, I barely managed to shower today, don’t worry about looking nice for me” without worrying about their response – that’s priceless.
I have been so isolated this year. Ever since Shai and Hulud came into our lives on April 1st, I’ve closed myself off: stopped hiking, stopped going out, stopped everything. Then my kids peeled away to their own new lives this summer, and while I appreciate having my quiet time back, it’s definitely a double-edged sword. There was a time when I had to learn how to use that quiet time productively, and after losing it for 2.5 years to a pandemic, it’s like I’ve forgotten how. I’ve forgotten how to leave the house to go for a walk, or have a coffee with a friend, or spend time at the library. Life has been so isolated, not just since April, but generally since 2020, that I have to relearn how to use my time in a way that’s not just effective or productive, but beneficial to my emotional health. (Rather than actively harmful, which is where I’ve been for the last couple months, sitting around binge-watching TV and shutting off my brain so I don’t have to deal with my emotions.)
Of course, you can’t spend every day or every weekend jam-packed like last weekend. That would also get exhausting. But I’ve also watched how my entire spirit lifts when I take time out to be with others again, and I know it’s important for me to keep doing this. I need to relearn the balance, and it’s definitely time to sort through the coping mechanisms that kept me sane during the pandemic and discard those which are no longer serving me. It’s also time for me to get out into the world again, to experience life outside my home and comfort zone.