Years ago I would have bemoaned my loneliness on Valentine’s Day. You could probably search this blog for a few “why am I so lonely” posts.
This year, I didn’t care. In fact, I now feel like I prefer being on my own.
I remember when the first lockdown happened, saying things like “well at least it didn’t happen in winter – at least we have the warm sunshine and I can sit outside and have a beer”.
I remember the first lockdown, when it was all new to us – there was a sense of worry, of the unknown, but most of us that are not exceptionally old, obese or otherwise unhealthy were gradually reassured by the data. There was a sense of “all in it together”, meme culture was at its best on social media, banana bread baking was the British cultural activity of the spring – that super sunny spring meant that we could sit outside.
Zoom calls were a plenty – I was normally having two a week. I was in touch with lots of people still – phone calls, arguments on Facebook over lockdowns, arguments on Twitter over masks. The sudden shock of isolation was there yet there was that camaraderie and togetherness without being anywhere near anyone.
The long winter of doom
This lockdown feels a lot different. Coming right in the depths of winter and right at the start of my 3 month detox – this one is a tough cookie. Winter can be tough to get through in normal years, but there is normally things to do, culture to visit, restaurants to eat at – people to see.
This lockdown, I’ve retreated very much into my shell. I’m not arranging Zoom calls. I’m not being invited to Zoom calls. I’m not speaking to many people at all. I don’t feel like speaking to people.
Apparently I’m not alone in feeling this way – my Twitter feed has plenty of people saying they are finding this lockdown tougher and more isolating – I’m sure I read in The Economist that people are having a lot less family/friends Zoom calls in this lockdown, but cannot find the article online to share.
So why am I feeling so anti-social?
It isn’t that I have nothing at all to say. Work is going well, I’ve enquired about the possibility of a pay rise, I’m getting involved with recruiting and learning Node and React at the weekend. Weekends otherwise have been filled with life admin/cleaning which is pretty boring, but I’ve still ordered a few roast dinners to review – though I think I’m going to knock those on the head for a while, until we can socialise again.
I’ve been losing weight – it has plateaued the last couple of weeks but I’m down 3.5kg this year. I’ve booked a holiday to the Lake District. Stock market investing is fun/awful/great/shite – depending on what day you read this. So I do have plenty to say – and I’m still well up for an argument over masks.
I guess not drinking doesn’t help. I feel that my detox could very easily be broken – as I could be emotionally broken without too much effort. And I’m trying to stay strong enough to complete my detox, which will end some time near the end of March I think. There isn’t a date as I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself – but I do feel that Zoom calls will just make me want to drink again. So maybe that is part of the reason why I’m avoiding social contact.
But I think mostly the reason why I’m feeling so anti-social is that I really miss everyone. I miss going to pubs with friends. I miss going to restaurants with family. I miss wandering art galleries with people, craning my neck to try to see past the hordes of people with camera phones.
That sense of longing to want to just simply sit opposite someone, look into their eyes and talk to them, over a glass of wine, whilst they scroll through Instagram and take no notice of what I am saying but at least they are there.
And every time I speak to someone, I just want to make plans to do something with them – and there is no point.
There is hope
Psychologically this winter lockdown has been fucking tough. I’m doing what I can to get by, and I guess retreating into my shell, avoiding social contact is part of this. And it isn’t like I’m ignoring people – I’m just not instigating things.
Not drinking actually helps get through lockdown – as much as I’d love a bottle of wine and would thoroughly enjoy one right now – I can end up miserable once drunk when alone. Alcohol helps – then un-helps. Losing weight helps me be happy, as does learning stuff and sorting out all my mess – all things which I am able to control and am concentrating on.
But spending time with people makes me most happy.
I am trying to keep myself happy and manage being alone as best as possible – everything I am doing during lockdown is to try to make my life better after lockdown.
There is hope. Spring is on the way and it looks like being a sunny spring, at least for March and April, eventually warm too. I’ve taken the last week of March off as holiday (we are not allowed to carry over holiday this year which is pretty shit) – but I’m hoping to be able to sit outside, have a beer in the sunshine, order a Blacklock roast dinner, have a nice steak, go on some longish walks. And do lots of studying – as there is a huge amount to learn for the probable new tech stack at work.
And at some point not too far away I reckon I’ll be able to invite my sister over for a roast dinner on a Sunday.
Most importantly, I want to go visit my parents and have our stolen Christmas. They’ve both had the jab, cases are as low as they were when they visited London in October – but I still think we are a fair few weeks away from it being socially acceptable to pack a suitcase and travel 200 miles up north.
Speak to you at some point. Maybe.