This post is an update to some thoughts I had almost four years ago, “Returning To The Outside World“. A lot of what I said in that post has changed in the intervening time, a lot of the sentiment has stayed the same. I decided to update it here, to reflect my current situation.
I still like to think, and I still need community. We all do. But what that community looks like has changed a lot over the years. After spending another “insular” winter inside in 2018 with a newborn, and what I now recognize as depression and anxiety, I all but lost most of the people who had been around to count on.
Last year’s recovery was only accomplished with the help of both, community and a trained professional. I’d been pushing myself to interact with the mom communities that some (new) friends were creating, after interacting with them primarily online. I was finally taking control of my childcare situation in a way I was satisfied with. And of course, starting therapy made a big difference. I wish I’d started it sooner, and some days I wish I’d continued it longer.
This past winter I knew I didn’t want a repeat of the isolation I’d faced the first few years of motherhood, so I planned our escape to Florida. It worked. We spent a beautiful month with enough time to engage in enjoying the world, and seeing some folks we hadn’t in a long time. But it did interrupt some of my “socializing” with friends back home. My grand plans to have play dates with other moms were put off. I was just getting back into the swing of things in March when suddenly it was too late.
Suddenly everybody was stuck inside like I had been all too often in the past. But this time, so was everyone else. Instead of life moving on without me, I felt more connected by the shared experience. Some of the activities I missed were now available to me, by being forced online. All the extra time I got back from not going anywhere could be filled by any number of desires and commitments. I started to come out of my shell.
After the first few months when I thought I was going to revert back to the overbooked schedule of my overwhelmed postpartum self. But this time, I was able to cope. I set boundaries. I prioritized myself. I made time for what matters to me. I’m still stressed, but I’m surviving. I’m still participating in the world, but on my terms.
As much as I may miss interacting with others in person, I’m still finding myself interacting much more than I could in the past. Having the connection and support of friends this time has made all the difference.