As human beings, we have a strong need to feel loved and to be connected. That longing can be compounded when there is a crisis, especially one like Covid-19. This pandemic is having many of us feeling isolated while questioning our priorities and purpose. I think whatever we were feeling before can become amplified now. Hopefully we will come out of this as a better version of ourselves and hold meaning even closer to our hearts.
Being alone is something I have experienced in the past seven years or so. Even before that, in my marriage, I would feel as if I were alone in many ways. As a single mother, I often have a tug of war between putting on a happy face for my kids, being strong, overwhelmed by finances, dealing with conflict with my ex on co-parenting, flying solo, and adulting in general.
Being single usually is not a choice we make. After a tumultuous marriage, I am grateful that I am not quarantined in a space where I can’t catch my breath. I have my children and I feel blessed for them as well. And yet the longing to have happiness in matters of the heart, that’s real, even more real in these times. I hear comments such as “at least you have your kids,” or “at least you will have a break when they go to their father.”Yes, that is true but there is a void in my heart when children are not with me. Nobody can take away someone’s pain or experience or possibly understand what they are feeling, unless they are traveling on the same journey.
Everyone has their own struggles and for some, this quarantine makes life harder than for others. Some people are feeling alone for the first time ever and can now sympathize more with others who are by themselves. And for some, it’s scary to have nowhere to escape and have to sit with themselves, for the first time, which can be really painful. As Glennon Doyle said “self-care isn’t a pedicure. It’s the hard work of staying with yourself.” This is where we hopefully grow. Collectively, I believe we would all agree, that this is hard. It’s really hard. I’m filled with many different emotions every day, as I know so many of us are. There is no right way to be. The message is in the mess. The willingness to feel into the lonely feelings and being with who we are, is everything. Sitting with what comes up and allowing our emotions to be felt, is so crucial in this time.
The inspiration that comes now from people gathering virtually to be of service has almost put things into perspective. I choose to see the kindness and the good that’s emerging from this pandemic.
After seeing many single moms posts in parent groups who were looking for support, and after speaking to my single friends who do not have kids and felt lonely, my friend Adina Rudin and I created a Facebook group called Singles in Quarantine; more than 250 people have joined in just two weeks. The group includes single parents, widows, and single folks who are supporting and lifting one another up every day.
Some reactions to the group have been: “supportive,” “individuals coming together as one,” “community and inspirational.” There are people from all over the world feeling less alone in their singlehood, sharing memes, zoom happy hours, inspiration, laughs and encouragement. I’m a huge advocate for mental health; this group is helping with other people’s emotional wellbeing in isolation, and for that, my heart is full. As the group often says — and this always is a belief of mine — “you’re not alone.”
For many of us, it seems like this quarantine put us in pods of some sort, as in the Netflix series “Love is Blind.” When we take out the superficial parts of merely physicality, we are really able to connect on a deeper level. The difference in our non-reality TV lives — and what we have going for us — is the ability to see one another on FaceTime, Zoom, and other video platforms. This time has given me a new shift in perspective about the importance of talking instead of texting, and seeing the other person on a screen, has become even more meaningful and connective, especially now when there is hardly any other kind of human contact. We have taken these things for granted and as we see, nothing is promised to us. Despite being an introvert and enjoying my alone time, I have been yearning for connection more than ever, and feeling its significance. Perhaps, as my friend Adina said, “Singles in Quarantine” can be the sequel to “Love is Blind.”
Another really difficult chapter this year is holidays, where we singles feel more alone and disconnected than ever. I appreciate tradition and the seders a great deal. This year I will be participating in Zoom seders with friends and will call my family beforehand to have a mock seder. I’m thankful for the technology we have now. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I know that we can do hard things, even though it can feel like we can’t. Marc Fein has posted some tools for a solo seder for people who do not use technology and created a wonderful singles group as well, called Solo, Together. I hope for myself and others, there can be comfort in keeping the tradition and remembering that this is temporary. I keep reminding myself that this too will pass. That we all can be together, whether we are single, single with kids, or coupled.
All of us have our inner struggles and grief. We are not alone, as we see now, in the human experience of heartbreak around the world, and we all are made for connection. It is as clear as can be that we have very little control over the outside world. As Viktor Frankl said in “Man’s Search for Meaning,” “ When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
One breath and one moment at a time, I pray that we didn’t have the world brought to its knees and mortality come so close to us, in order to us to stay the same or complacent. I hope that we grow and come out of this pandemic with wide-open hearts and more compassion toward ourselves and others, and that we truly cherish one another and our lives. And let’s not forget to throw a ton of joy and gratitude into the mix.
Simi Fromen of Englewood is an inspirational writer and author, yoga teacher, wellness coach, and mental health advocate. She is devoted to helping people empower themselves in optimum health. Simi’s bestselling book, “Ascending Voice,” can be found on Amazon. Learn more at www.simifromen.com