Quarantine is nothing new to the broken-hearted

I enter the room waiting for others to show up for me.

Hoping we’ll be able to connect.

Others enter.

You enter.

I’ve been really excited about being able to finally connect with someone because I’ve been having issues with connection all week.

My whole life actually.

I’m thinking this time will be different.

Maybe I’ve gotten a handle of things and perhaps I know how they work this time so I’ll be able to talk with you without interruptions and have a meaningful conversation in the time that we have.

There’s a lot of background noise but there always is. That’s life: zipping past us loudly and without mercy as we try to find the calm enough to reach each other even if just for a moment.

Are we still talking about a zoom meeting or are we talking about life?

Unfortunately, I’m talking about both.

Every one of my relationships is like a zoom call.

I find myself reaching out but even as I outstretch my hand, I realize you’re here but you’re not really here.

“Can you see me okay?”

Can anyone ever really see me? Can you see that I’m not okay?

We put up fake backgrounds to make our lives seem more presentable so no one ever really gets to look inside our real story. Wearing a button up on top and boxers on bottom because we’re only ever half put-together, just enough so we can’t be seen how we see ourselves; only seen how we want others to see us.

If I outstretch my arm, I would be met by glass, not by you. Not by warmth.

Glass ceilings, glass bottles used to box up my truth and replace it with an uninhibited character for the night, glass boxes that say that intimacy is not for the platonic.

You half listen as you watch my lips move, my words sporadically breaking through over the cables filling in the silence between your thoughts of the next thing on your agenda. You watch me speak, but do you hear me speak? Do you listen?

I may have turned my mic off by accident when I wrapped my message in humor hoping laughter would stop you from hearing my voice crack of hurt.

All I had really hoped is that someone would see the truth and tell me that I’m on mute. Tell me that I’m motioning to them but they can’t really catch what I’m saying. Tell me that they can see it in my face that there’s something that I’m trying to say. Tell me that they can’t hear me

….but they want to.

Do you want to?

Sometimes, when I speak, there’s a lag between what leaves my lips and what reaches your ears, garbled by thousands of miles of electrical wires. It makes me think you don’t hear me.

It’s okay. Sometimes, I don’t hear myself. I don’t hear myself spiral until I try to explain it aloud and have to experience the sequence of my sentences rattling within my bones as they escape my lungs. When the sound leaves my mouth, the echo of foolishness screaming back at me makes me wish I could swallow my words back to where they emerged from so that they never saw the light of day. I try to make light of days that were my darkest. I try to make the stars seem bigger than the shadows. I want to keep the galleries more memorable than the gallows.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

If my heart breaks in my chest and no one is there to feel it, does it hit the ground?

Sometimes, I don’t hear myself. Often, I don’t want to.

I’ve been in isolation long before a favorite alcohol turned all-consuming plague struck the four corners of the earth. I try to wash the four fingers of my hands of every bad thing parts of me have ever come in contact with operating as a silo afraid that I’ll detonate if anyone were ever to enter.

I learned as a toddler that there are corners that Purell cannot reach. 99.9% of my early memories are buried under Lys…..ol of my family puts on a mask to go outside nowadays. To protect themselves.

COVID-19. 19-DIVOC…19 years since my parents DIVOrCed and I’ve been putting on masks to go outside pretty much every day during and since. To protect myself. They’re not N-95s but I got them in ‘97. I experience the world as a. butterfly. social. but at a ~calculated~ distance.

My therapist is unsure of how much my masks have done to protect me. I assure him that if I am still alive, my premeditated precautions must have produced partially positive progress.

Each evening, I watch the 6 o’clock news behoove the audience to keep 6 feet apart from those they are near.

I started being kept apart from those near and dear to me by 6 feet several years ago so I am well practiced for a time like this. My whole body has found equilibrium in a state of emergency even if the nation has not yet. A sense of home in the horror. A place of peace in the pandemic.

They ask me why I’m not afraid. How am I so calm in all this chaos?

I remind them: this is not my first disaster.

A virus is harming the whole world right now but my whole world did not first experience harm with this virus.

Viruses started to ruin my life a long time ago.

Viruses unseen by the eye, but felt by the heart and remembered by the mind.

Written by

Product manager | Leading with empathy.

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