How is your confinement To go? Socially distant walks with friends, finally? Sobbing Normal people with your partner at night? A Zoom Sunday lunch with your parents across town?
Mine was spent writing and redesigning an email to my landlord regarding vacation rentals and deciding on the names of the new voices in my head. I am one of the 8 million people living alone in Britain – around 15 percent of the adult population – and yet, while the daily struggles of couples and families are well documented, for us singles, not so much.
Solo locking is really hard. While people on Twitter and Facebook posted about the long-awaited reunions this weekend and their frustrations at not being able to hug those they met, it has been my reality for the past two months. The last hug I got was March 9 – yes, so important that I know the date. I am alone and I feel it. No love, no human contact. No hugs, no grip. I hate that. Touch reassures us, soothes us and releases oxytocin “the hormone of love”. I miss oxytocin.
And while we can now go out more often to exercise and meet a friend, I don’t really want to. This reluctance is less about the fear of catching or spreading the virus; and no longer afraid that my fury against the 2-meter violators will give me an ulcer. I would heal myself and increase my sertraline – if only I knew for sure that I could get more.
Let me give you a – proper – breakdown of my lockdown weeks. On Mondays I do my show on BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey, so I walk to the station and see producer Ollie. Poor producer Ollie is the only person I’ve known in the flesh all week. So poor producer Ollie makes me talk at him for about an hour. Tuesday, I have therapy on Skype, so my poor lady in charge makes me sob on it for about an hour. On Wednesday I have a working conference call. It’s nice to hear voices that I recognize.
And then that’s it – no rounds of much-missed nannies and housekeepers to come, as friends have announced since the lockdown eased last week, further widening their already wider circles. I of course virtually ‘see’ my friends and family, but I’m not their priority. Why would I be?
I have lived alone most of my life and have worked from home for 26 years. But it is something different. Psychotherapist Joanna Miller explains, “Having our lives put on hold or abruptly brought to a halt in this way has opened up a mirror to us in a way we’re not used to. Our usual distractions from ourselves are not as available. We see who we are, what resources we need to rely on and who is important in our lives. “