It’s instant. One moment normal. The next terror. How does my body do that? All so normal … Crowded shopping centre … Bright lights …. Muzak … The smells and energy … A little one in tow. Done it hundreds of times. Always followed by a burger as a treat – obviously with the pack of fruit – I’m a good father doncha know.
And then terror. No child. Instant all consuming normal flicked to cold clinging terror just like that. And then … Relief flooding every cell. There she/he is. And now I feel silly of course they were okay always were and always will be and soon I forget. Forget that terror.
But tonight I remember.
I think its all the questions. What do I think. The confusion. Should I or shouldn’t I. And anger. Frustration. The absence of answers. All wrapped up in fear. Low grade fear that “ramps up” so much more easily after all these weeks. That is “unprecedented” in its longevity. So much having to be yes or no: is it safe or not. How long will this go on for. And the down days. The tears. The why me. The what about me. The door is opening and I see death outside. Safe in here. Knowing deep down that safety is not living. Is not healthy. Is not good for me. But better than out there. That is fear. The same as my terror is fear.
In that instant in the shopping centre, my body flooded chemicals. Fight or flee horrible life-threatening monsters. But there weren’t any that day in that shopping centre. I saw our child and the flooding drained.
But this shielding low grade fear keeps on going. It’s relentless. I am not made to live in fear like this. I cannot fight AND I cannot flight here in my shielding nest. The enemy is out there but it’s creeping closer. I can’t see it but I know it is …
I am taking back control. I am not living in fear any more. I have walked Maisy morning and evening every day. This virus, my new (then) shielding label and all the government advice didn’t stop me. Mrs Paul asked and I said no – I am walking. Same with the bins. Common sense …
HEALTH WARNING: “common sense” for only me and my condition and my circumstances.
And in the beginning people were kind. We were ALL living in fear. We ALL had that in common. That’s draining now. Less and less a common bond. Now I am a scavenger of clean air and surfaces amongst those who walk boldly. The bold who are less and less aware. So I have another choice to make: scavenge better or don’t scavenge at all.
I choose to be more aware. Know better where the wind blows and how strong. To become a pilot of the pavement – measuring how far and from where this virus may come – from whom and what and where the threat to my air and surfaces. I have become a self-taught and seasoned pavement pilot. I now scavenge clean air better.
And rotate …
These past two weekends have given me back my wings. I have reclaimed my freedom not from shielding but from fear. I know now I can live with shielding for as long as it takes. Because I am learning that it’s not shielding that is my enemy. Not even the virus. Nor the government. And not even my partying bbq’ing neighbours. None of that is my enemy. Fear is. My fear. No one else’s. Because no one else is flooding my body with fear. Only I can do that. Only I was doing that.
Wheels up … (or whatever the correct jargon)
These past two weekends – and the two weeks thinking before that – have given me back my freedom from fear. And yet the virus still floats and coats outside my door. My job is still secure but for how much longer? Mrs Paul and I are still living together but still apart. Nothing. Has. Changed.
But everything has changed.
I no longer live in fear. Better than that I am now living in confidence and hope. I now know I can live not just with shielding – but shrink my obsession with government announcements – have little interest in whether we are forgotten or not. I am no longer living with shielding (even though I am) – I am living with “living” again. Because I looked over my shoulder in terror and saw … Me in the middle of my loved ones again and for ever. And my fear drained … The “Garden Fun” this weekend (following “The Hug” last weekend) allowed me to see me living life again. And I am.
Cruising at 34,000 feet.
I still have no answers. The future is still unknown. But right now I have unstrapped my seat-belt and I’m looking out on the clouds below. Just like normal. Able to cope and respond to whatever tomorrow brings.
I have my mojo back and it feels good!
FOOTNOTE: added this morning to our family via WhatsApp.