Well, here we are. Stuck in New Zealand. Our borders are closed now due to the Covid19. New Zealand has been our home for the past seven years, so it’s not that big of a deal. Rumours are that it will be closed for six months. Some say 18 months. I don’t really know, but I cried when our Prime Minister gave her press conference, even though I agreed with the action.
Yes, I cried. I don’t think I’m the only expat who did, either.
It’s a strange time we’re living in. A coronavirus, or COVID-19 pandemic, is forcing us into a global shut down. Across social media, my friends write about their schools closing in the USA. My friend in Norway has been self-isolated for over a week due to illness, and my cousin wonders how to do distance learning for special education students. Links are circulating online with tips on how to homeschool your kids, how to wash your hands, and how not to be a dick. The stats rise in the cases of the virus– deadly to people over age 70 and to those with compromised immune systems. Stay home, they say.
Just yesterday our government released a threat level tier with level four being complete isolation and lockdown. New Zealand is at a level two; meaning isolate if we’re sick, businesses have employees work from home if able to do so. Our national museum, Te Papa, is closed indefinitely along with libraries and swimming pools. Social distancing will be the term of the year.
It’s all so weird. It’s also a bit scary, and when I allow myself to really think about the gravity of this global stress, it weighs me down. It’s heavy.
For seven years of living here in New Zealand, I always allowed myself this bit of comfort that if I needed to go back to the states at any time, I could. If my parents needed me, I would be able to fly home within 24 hours. Should I need them, they could do the same. It was an out. I was never stuck. Now I am.
Last year, my husband and I dealt with serious health issues within our families and we were fortunate to both be able to make solo trips to be there for them. Now, it’s scary to think if something serious were to happen again, we are stuck down here, with them over there.
We’ll get by down here like we always have. I can handle self-isolation being an introvert who prefers being home. My husband and I are used to having to rely solely on one another, scheduling regular Facetimes with our parents. Our kids are used to the video chats. We have never had family here to watch after the kids, never get date nights, and our favourite places we go to are outside anyway.
Still, I cried hearing the news. In this moment, I don’t know when I will get to hug my parents again and that’s a pain my heart can’t take.
People are quick to tell me it’s not a big deal, that there are lots of families in our shoes, and above all else, DON’T PANIC.
I get it and I’m not saying I have a unique situation here as many others are indeed dealing with this too. This is my perspective only, and if you want to read something cheerful and uplifting, then you’re reading the wrong post and need to wait for Part Two. Because guess what?
I am panicking.
I am scared.
I am nervous.
I am sad.
I think we should all be panicking, don’t you?
Before my inbox gets flooded with “calm down” or “stay positive” messages, I’m going to challenge you to stop it. Stop pretending that this isn’t shitty. Stop denying very real feelings, because that’s kind of how we got to this in the first place. Here’s the other part…
I am content.
I am grateful.
I am empathetic.
Did you know that people can be scared and can also be content at the same time? Humans are pretty remarkable in that way that we don’t have to see things in only black and white circumstances.
I’m perfectly content on my couch right now. My kids are squabbling, there are only a few fluffy clouds hanging out in a blue sky, and I am doing what I love most (write). Life is as usual for us right now. I can see the positives of this quality family time, and I can appreciate that the Universe is in a transformation… and I’m on board with it.
I’m also not going to be in denial about it, either. We are stuck in New Zealand. Worldwide, we are sick.
There’s nothing wrong with accepting things are fucking whack right now. I’m not being negative by embracing the uncertainty. I’m being real. There’s legit fear and I’m here to say that as someone who has endured lots of fear in life, it’s unavoidable. I embrace it, make it my friend, and learn from it. Use the awareness to grow as a person. Sure, sometimes I want to curl up in a ball and hide under the covers… I’m into that as a temporary comfort, too.
But ultimately, fear is there to make me pay attention. It’s there to tell me I need to change something.
Denial is far worse than fear.
So as I worry about my family overseas and watch the cases of Covid rise in New Zealand and the rest of the world, what am I going to learn from this?
Like you, I am stuck living within great uncertainty.
And that is, as always, okay.
(To Be Continued…)