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Beauty in the Breakdown

Last Friday-- it’s hard to believe it was just a week ago, my ex and I dropped off our son at daycare together. It was the first time we did a drop-off together since we separated. I think we both knew subconsciously it would be the last time we’d be taking my son to daycare for awhile. On the car ride home, I asked him what supplies he thought would be smart to stock up on. People were starting to discuss social distancing, but schools hadn’t closed yet and only my international show had been shutdown at that point. But you could feel the anxiety hanging in the air. Something was about to change. I nervously joked with my ex about how it feels really weird to be going through a divorce during a pandemic (a term that at the time seemed like a little bit of an exaggeration). He agreed— and commented that it felt sort of like Die Hard (this reference was lost on me and I realized I had never seen Die Hard all the way through), but I understood what he meant. Going through a divorce is like being knocked back by a wave and we were finally coming up for air and learning how to tread water. And now, there is an even bigger wave that’s cresting to the shore— one that’s affecting everybody, but to what degree we can only speculate.

That was the analogy I gave my therapist the other day during our video session. Only five days had passed since the day my ex and I took my son to daycare, but it felt like a lifetime ago. Schools and bars closed down, restaurants were only open for takeout. Most everyone I knew was social distancing. Last night California enacted a “stay at home” mandate, limiting even more services. For the first time in a long time, I am unemployed. The uncertainty lingering in the air is palpable. And yet, I am still navigating divorce and being a single mom. I still have bills to pay and routines to refine. I still have a script— one I am actually getting paid to write— due. Life had to continue on, but now with this whole new set of rules to navigate. It’s surreal and scary and really does feel like a movie; but we’re all experiencing this together. There are moments when I find solace in that fact— the collective, “we’re all fucked!” And there have been some exceptionally wonderful and kind moments— friends that are not “phone people” talking to me for hours to calm me down, writers sending me money to help out during financial uncertainty and offering to pay bills, my therapist and pilates teacher making their services available online, my parents going to multiple grocery stores to make sure my son has the yogurt he likes, etc, etc. But there have also been the extremely overwhelming moments— the waking up and saying aloud, “I can’t believe this is happening.” The fear of getting sick and uncertainty of how I will take care of my son if that happens becoming so real that I have to go into the other room and sob, feeling so utterly alone and helpless at times, that I wish I could drink myself silly, take enough edibles to numb everything, and then hide under the blankets until this all passes. But, I still have a child to take care of.

These are strange and unpredictable times for all of us right now. There’s going to be good days and there’s going to be bad days. How we spend these days is entirely up to us. If you want to be productive— start and finish that novel, get that beach body, homeschool your kid with gusto… fantastic. It’s also fine if you have days where you do nothing but lay in bed. The other day, I was feeling particularly low and told my son we were going to watch a mama movie and eat bad snacks. Was it ideal for a 2-year-old? Probably not, but it was certainly what I needed and that is what’s best for him. Above all else, we must remember to be kind to one another right now. I am so grateful for the people who have been extra kind to me. I hope I can be that source for others right now, too. I think if we remember that, we’ll be able to emerge from this situation stronger and more appreciative, which is only a good thing.

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