It’s Okay, You Weren’t Built for This

My alarm goes off at 7:15am every morning. I don’t snooze it.

Get out of bed, start coffee maker, let dog out, feed dog and cat, get cup of coffee, get back into bed.

I sit up in bed, drink my coffee and try to get my head around . . .whatever this is. I get myself into the shower, get dressed, walk the dog. I come home, set up my computer on my bed on top of a book on top of a pillow and look for the Zoom link I sent my client the night before.

I peer at the screen, at the person that I know so well, at the person I used to go seek out in their chair at the end of the hall and invite into my office. “How are you?” I ask. I mean it. I want to know and I want to know in ways that are deeper and somehow more desperate than they have ever been. “How are you?”

More than that. . .”Where are you? What are you?”, I seek them out in the picture, in the pixels, trying to parse what they are telling me, trying to feel them, trying to know what used to be so easily known. My signals echo back. I turn my thumbnail off, then on, then off. I try to open to what is there, static, noise, words, an echo of another life. I speak, they speak, we struggle to be in this space that doesn’t exist between us. I am lost, but I can’t say that. I can’t say I’m not okay, this isn’t okay, neutered, mangled, cut off, adrift from the body, I can no longer see what is there, only what was and what can be imagined to be.

I am a body alone, even in motion, even along with my trainer who coaches me from this distance-less distance,

“Move the screen so I can see your feet.”

“Back up a little so I can see where your knees are”

Without her, I would do no more than walk with feet and paws around the same block twice a day. Yet, I am not with her either, a headless form demonstrating lunges, a laugh or praise I can only imagine in its fullness.

I don’t want to bike alone in my basement. I don’t want to run alone in a park. I don’t even want to do yoga alone with Adriene because I don’t want to be alone. You don’t either and it’s okay, you weren’t built for this.

You weren’t built to be a body by yourself holding all your cares and the weight of the world without another body somewhere, sometimes. You like your time, your space, your distance but in your 6×6 ft cell, you come to understand that you need the occasional resonance of another form within your sphere, a kind heart that beats close enough to feel for just a moment. Even the store clerk. Even the food courier or the stranger on the bench next to you. You can come to know them in a moment of synchronicity, and you need that, you were built for that.

You were built to be with, to be known, not just for your words, but for all the unconscious poetry in your body. You were built to speak with your mouth, but also your eyes and your shoulders, the sound of your breath and the way your hips shift in the chair when you are afraid. You were built to tell me implicitly, powerfully, what it is you really need to say, your truth underneath the thousand ways you can’t speak. I can’t hear you six feet away even as we shout across this abyss.

You weren’t built for this and you don’t have to say it’s okay, or good enough, or the same, or tolerable. Day after day, your nervous system seeks and searches and wonders when it can dare to be soothed, when it is allowed to declare a need to just be with, without being accused of. . .something. . .bad. It doesn’t understand and that’s okay, you weren’t built for this.

A pair of hands being held.

8 thoughts on “It’s Okay, You Weren’t Built for This

  1. I can relate so strongly.
    I also no longer snooze.
    I feed my pets and make my coffee.
    Sometimes I feel good…but my nervous system is clearly overwrought.

    I really like working from home and I try hard to be grateful that I am employed and comfortable. It does not lessen the fear of the future.

    Thank you for putting this into words. I feel a little less alone.

    1. “but my nervous system is clearly overwrought”. I think that sentence summed up my experience. Except, in my case, I’m not able to clearly see why. I work in a public library (now closed) and have an autoimmune disorder. As hard as this has been, I think I’m feeling deeply fearful about the time when I go back to work, I don’t think I’ll feel safe for a long time because libraries are such germ factories. Sometimes I miss interaction with more people, but, I also feel safe at home.

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